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Measuring eaves height for permitted development

Just received a confusing email from local planning office which contradicts what I had read from the guidance notes.

We are planning to re-roof our utility/garage which currently has a single pitch. As it is built into sloped ground the walls and surrounding ground levels are different. We are planning on building a pitched roof so the walls will need to be leveled to the same height, i.e building the lower wall up.

As I read it, the 3m eaves height limit is measured from the highest adjacent natural ground level. However today I was told that all walls would have to be 3m maximum from ground level.

Can anyone shed any light on this?


  • Which country are you in?

    PD in Scotland is completely different from England. Wales and NI are more like England but I think they're slightly different.
  • It is very unlikely to be as measured from the highest ground level, sorry.
  • England.

    I think we may be able to manage with the 3m on the lowest level, however the principle elevation and visible walls would only measure 2m which is a pain as doors will look a little odd. Perhaps it is worth going for a full planning application after all!
  • edited May 2014

    There are a lot of different opinions on this in the planning world.

    Here's Leeds Council in your favour:

    Ground level is the surface of the ground immediately adjacent to the building in question. Where ground level is
    not uniform (e.g. if the ground is sloping), then the ground level is the highest part of the surface of the ground next to the building. Permitted development for householders - technical guidance.pdf

    Others differ. In practice it is pretty tactical. Measuring from the top of a pile of soil wouldn't convince, but equally there is ambiguity in the measurement (so everything is arguable). Questions:

    Have you been inspected?
    Can you do something about the ground level? is it lower than it naturally used to be because someone reduced the level previously?
    How far are you pushing it? If you just do it is there any reason why someone would complain? Are you building on the boundary, overshadowing a neighbour, have bad relations etc so someone will want to spite you?

    If not obviously taking the P or exploiting something, you may well get away with something within the ambiguity. It might be worth a conversation with a Duty Planner to establish their attitude without mentioning who or where you are.

    Enforcement or not will probably be complaint driven if you haven't been obvious with the Council.

    Your call :-).

  • edited May 2014
    Plan B.

    Could you do something as simple as extending your eaves to give sheltered storage, with or without a vertical screen at the outside ?

    I always have infinite amounts of things lying around that would benefit from that setup - from brushes to bikes to bricks to birdboxes (location for).

  • Surely it depends mostly on internal floor level. It's not quite the same, but I had to get PP for my shed because the eaves were 3m from the *lowest* ground level (150mm above which was floor level. Because of the quirky way I designed it, on the access side, the doors are 1m above floor level. I tried to argue that my eaves height was therefore only 2m, but it would not wash. So I had to pay £100 or £150 (can't remember) for the privilege of letting a council officer keep my application in a pending tray for 10 weeks (yes, ten) before moving it into the approved pile with an accompanying 'kerch - ing' from the cash till!
  • Plan B was my thought too, however the rules state eaves are where wall meets roof so overhang doesn't help.

    Ground is naturally that way, however if I was needing just 100-200mm I could build up the rear pathway.

    The building is already there, and althought a metre from the boundary it is no way near other properties so neighbours are no problem. The highest/main ground level is the same level as the front drive, main road and front elevation so the issue is that the garden is naturally lower behind.

    The above quote is what I read too and there are even diagrams stating the same highest level principle. So confused!

    May have another chat with planning anyway and try and clarify.
  • I have found some building inspectors sometimes dont even know there own rules, had to quote chapter and verse (very diplomatically) on more than one occasion.
  • I think you are right, the ground level is measured from the highest part of the ground.

    Look at this link, the situation we are talking about is noumber 2

    Also the PD Techincal Guidance issued by the Department of Communities and Local Governement also agrees with the measurement from the highest ground level. See page 4 under the definition of "height".

    I find it immensely frustrating when the planners don't have clue about the rules they are meant to apply. There is no reason why Nick Parsons scheme wasn't PD - if the planner was quoting the 3m from the lowest ground level he needs to go and get retrained.

    At least with PD there is only the rules and no subjectivity. I had to withdraw a planning application for a 2 two extension to my house because the "modern flat roof design and contemporary exterior and would be considered out of character with the existing dwelling and so have a determenatal impact on the street scene. Never mind the extension design matched the modern contemporary monpitch and flat roof dwelling they approved the week before in the rear garden. Or the fact that their guide lines say that extensions should show a clear delineation between old and new, but this apparently translates to mean the same materials with a set back in the walls and a drop in ridge and eaves.

    They have said they would be likely accept be putting a hipped pitch with a flat area on the top out of site, even though this will add about 1.5m in height.
  • This is all good news and exactly the articles I had read originally. I will gather the info and approach them about it tomorrow.

    On a related query, the permitted development allows for a single story side extention. Although we are not actually extending, just adding a pitched roof to an existing building, does this allow for an attic area? I.e does 'single story' prevent a room/storage area in the roof space?
  • Posted By: restorationcouplejust adding a pitched roof to an existing building, does this allow for an attic area? ?
    Yes of course it does, especially if you do it afterwards:devil::devil:
  • Latest from the planning office is the following.

    As the existing building is within 2m of the boundary we can only build the eaves to 3m from ANY adjacent ground level. As this will not give headroom for an attic space we are going to move the end wall all of 500mm so that it is 2m from boundary and therefor allow us to go higher. 3m form highest adjacent ground level.

    However going through permitted development appears to have opened up some other issues. The current building is rendered and was done under PP in the 50's, however now we are building the walls up and pitched roof it appears we will have to face the whole thing is stone to match the house!

    Does this sound like it could be the case?
  • If we do need to have a stone finish, has anyone had any experience with stone cladding, and could it be done over EWI?
  • edited May 2014
    Extensions are only permitted development if:

    "Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house"

    There is a definition of "original house" but not of "existing house". Existing house might include the extension. I would discuss this with your planning officer.

    The planning portal is also only a guide. The actual legislation might have to be consulted.
  • edited May 2014
    Definition of Original and Existing from:

    “Original” - means a building as it existed on 1 July 1948 where it was built before that date, and as it was built when built after that date.
    “Existing” - means a building as it existed immediately before any permitted development (eg a house extension) is undertaken. The existing house will include previous development to the house, whether undertaken as permitted development or as development resulting from a planning permission from the local authority.
  • Thank you for the links. Unfortunately the building is made up of an original 1900 outhouse and a garage extension done in '52.

    I will get in touch with planning and go through the details as it doesn't sound as straight forward as a new PD extension from scratch.
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