On the 28 June 2011, the Planning and Building (General Development) (Jersey) Order 2011 ("the Order") came into force, the effect of which is that many simple alterations to private homes no longer require planning permission. Under the Order, certain development works and uses of property are automatically deemed to have planning permission granted by the Minister and, as such, a property owner is entitled to carry out such works or put the property to such use without having to apply for planning permission.

The Order lists many permitted works, indeed too many to detail in the scope of this article, but two types of permitted works are likely to be of particular interest to home-owners: the conversion of a garage or of a roof space into dwelling accommodation. On studying the Order, it becomes apparent that, whilst permission is automatically granted for such works, there are many conditions and exemptions which may apply, so care must be taken to ensure that any works being planned do properly fall within the permitted development criteria, before works commence. Considering each type of work in turn, I shall look at what is permitted, and, perhaps as importantly, what is not permitted.

Garage Conversion

The conversion of a garage which is attached to a dwelling, for human habitation is permitted. However, it is not permitted under the Order if the garage exceeds the following heights: where the roof is pitched, 3.5 metres above ground level measured at the roof ridge, or 2.5 metres above ground level measured at the lower edge of the roof plane, 2.75 metres above ground level if the roof is flat or 2 metres above ground level if the roof is within 1 metre of the boundary of an adjoining property. The garage must be directly accessible from within the existing dwelling house and must not be used as a separate unit of accommodation or for commercial purposes. The house of which the garage forms part must not be registered as a listed building or place or a potential listed building or place and it must not fall within an area of archaeological potential.

Roof Space

The conversion within a dwelling house of the roof space for use as habitable accommodation or other purposes ancillary to its use as a dwelling, including the insertion of one or more dormer windows or skylights is permitted. However, permission is not automatically granted if the house is registered as a site of special interest or is registered as a potential listed building or place. A dormer window, or where the house is in a conservation area, any dormer window or skylight, is not permitted if it is to be inserted in the principal elevation of the building. There is no automatic permission to insert a gable window into a house.

Further Conditions

There are further conditions attaching to the granted permission: a dormer window must be at least one metre from the boundary of any adjoining property, at least one metre above the lower edge of the roof plane on which it is installed, at least one metre from the roof ridge and at least one metre when measured horizontally from any other dormer window on the roof. The width of a dormer window must not exceed 1.2 metres. There must not be more than two dormer windows on any roof plane, and the total area of any dormer windows must not exceed 25% of the total area of the roof plane on which they are installed. Any glazed face of a dormer window that faces an adjoining residential property must be no closer than 10 metres from the boundary of the property it faces. With respect to skylights, the lowest part of the frame must be more than 1.7 metres above the finished floor lever of the internal converted roof space. With regard to the loft conversion itself, the converted area must not be used for any commercial purpose or as a separate unit of accommodation.

Welcome Relaxation

So, as can be seen, the Order is, in many respects, a welcome relaxation in the planning laws and will presumably unburden the planning department from having to consider numerous minor applications and will enable house owners to carry out certain works without incurring the time and expense involved in a planning application. However, bear in mind that the Order does not give the green light to any garage or loft conversion. The home owner must carefully consider the nature of his proposals and the character and location of his property to ensure that his proposed works do not fall outside the scope of a permitted development. Furthermore, even if proposed works are permitted, it is likely to be the case that building bye-laws approval is needed. Finally, if your permitted development rights have been removed by a condition of a previous planning permit, you cannot rely on the provisions of the Order. So, whilst on the face of it, the Order is a relaxation in the planning law, it is not safe to assume that your proposed works automatically fall within its scope.

As originally appeared in Jersey Evening Post – Homelife, September 2011

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.