Can a neighbour complain about my extension?

The UK is a country that supports the notion that a patch of land that belongs to an Englishman is his castle and, for the most part, homeowners can add, subtract and adapt their property at will. There are some projects that do require some form of planning permission, however, and this blog takes a look at the rights of both the homeowner and the neighbour.

If you have any concerns that you neighbour is complaining unnecessarily or that a neighbour work doesn’t comply with the national regulations you can visit the UK Government Planning Portal website.

Projects that don’t require planning permission:

It is completely acceptable for a homeowner to make minor changes to their property without applying for planning permission. Such projects include putting up a wall or fence. These types of projects are classes as apart of your ‘permitted development rights’.
These rights were extended in 2008 to cover more building projects. The following projects now do not require any permission:

  • Conservatories
  • Home extensions (with limitations)
  • Solar panel installations
  • Roof alterations
  • Laying patios and driveways

Conservatories and extensions do have to comply with some regulations that refer to the dimensions of the extension or the positioning. This is discussed further below.

Projects that do need planning permission:

There are projects that do require planning permission. To apply for planning permission you need to visit the planning portal website. Projects that require permission include:

  • Flat or maisonette extension.
  • Development of a self-contained flat divided off your original building.
  • The development of a separate piece of property in your garden.
  • Dividing off a section of your home for business use. For example a workshop, office space or parking space for a commercial vehicle.
  • An addition that will obstruct the road and drivers on the road.
  • Something that may require new or wider access to a classified road.

Loft Conversions:

As mentioned above, the new rights that were implemented in 2008 mean that you no longer have to get planning permission for loft conversions that are 50 cubic metres of less, so long as you live in a detached or semi-detached home. The conversion can also not go higher than 20cm above the eaves.
The only catch is if you are trying to do this conversion in a place that it will impact the structural strength of a party wall. A party wall is a wall that sits on the boundary line between you and your neighbour. If this party wall will be affected, then it is the responsibility of the homeowner to contact their neighbour in writing and give them a chance to review the plans and check they are happy with the change.

The Party Wall:

The Party Wall Act of 1996 covers party walls and outlines the procedures a homeowner must take if they wish to change a party wall. The act states that any changes must agreed upon in writing two month prior to the work starting. Neighbours can’t be ‘unduly obstructive’ meaning their reason for objecting to an extension must be valid.


Even though conservatories are also in the list about suggesting they don’t need planning permission, over 60% of them do because they are usually large and in a debatable location. Generally, if the new conservatory covers more than 50% of the land or faces a road, then it will need to be approved. If you are putting an extension on the side of your house it cannot be higher that 50% of the height of the property without receiving planning permission. Both detached and semi-detached homes come with certain regulations based on the acceptable height and depth of a conservatory. All of this information is on the Planning Portal link above.


Extensions are subject to similar rules as conservatories. Generally if it affects your neighbours property, the party wall, faces the road or is too big, you will have to seek out planning permission.

Ultimately if you are within the rules of your type of home then you do not need to legally ask any permission from your neighbour for your project.

Have you run into trouble from a neighbour who objected to your project? How did you resolve the issue?

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