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Planning permission not needed for (most) external solid wall insulation

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 January 2013 at 9:04 am

In a welcome bit of joined-up government thinking, the departments of energy and climate change and of communities and local government have clarified that the installation of external solid wall insulation constitutes an 'improvement' to a house rather than an 'enlargement' or 'extension'. This means that in many cases the installation can be carried out under permitted development, and a planning application may not be needed.

This will be a relief to many people who had been told that they would have to get planning permission to insulate their houses if the "enlarged part of the dwellinghouse would extend beyond a wall which i) fronts a highway and ii) forms either the principal elevation or a side elevation of the original dwellinghouse".

This clarification to the guidance can be found in the Permitted Development for Householders: Technical Guidance on the Planning Portal. Click here to download a copy. The relevant section is A.1 (d) on page 13 of the guide. It states: "Installation of solid wall insulation constitutes an improvement rathe than an enlargement or exetnsion to the dwellinghouse and is not caught by the provisions of d(i) and d(ii).

This technical clarification is separate to the consultation exercise DCLG has recently carried out on changing the size limits for householder extensions. An announcement on the outcome of that consultation will be made in due course, and the technical guidance will be updated at that time to reflect any changes being taken forward.


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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4 comments - read them below or add one

EnergySavingGrants.orgComment left on: 19 May 2017 at 9:13 am

It is also very important that the homeowner obtains a signed Party Wall Agreement from their neighbours(s) if they live in a terraced or semi-detached property, as the installation of External Wall Insulation will involve working on the party wall.

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utility-exchangeComment left on: 15 January 2013 at 1:49 pm

Useful information Cathy and Richard - I wasn't aware that building regulations approval was required or that there was even the possibility planning permission may have to be sought too. Thanks again

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Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 14 January 2013 at 10:57 am

Richard - thank you for this useful addition.

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Richard Adams

Richard AdamsComment left on: 14 January 2013 at 10:06 am


Of course Building Regs approval is still required. Many installers are glossing over this so the householder needs to be careful about that aspect.

The DCLG note is for guidance only and there are properties and areas of land which will be excluded from these permitted development rights. LPAs often wish to exercise local control and are unlikely to be happy about a wholesale EWI programme which makes massive changes to the properties in their patch.

Good practice (and the way in which developers must apply the GPDO) require them to notify the LPA in advance of any permitted works. This of course will only happen in practice in isolated cases but neverthess should be done to ensure something is on the LPA's file and to give some defence against later enforcement being taken.

Richard Adams

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