Permitted development

Government guidance defines permitted development rights, often shortened to PDRs, as "a national grant of planning permission which allow certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without having to make a planning application". In practice, this might involve minor works to change a use of a building or to convert one type of property to another. There are some conditions and restrictions but permitted development generally has a quicker, easier journey than development applied for through the full planning permission process.

In principle, we are opposed to the expansion of permitted development rights because we think that the full planning permission process is better suited to evaluating and mitigating the environmental impacts of development. The full planning permission process is not perfect but it does encourage more of a positive dialogue around nature-friendly development than permitted development rights.

We also have concerns about whether all local planning authorities are fully aware that their duties regarding protected species such as bats still apply to permitted development as this is not clear in the guidance available to them. This was confirmed in a 2014 call for evidence we conducted which found that half of responding local planning authorities incorrectly believed that species protections do not apply to permitted development.


Early 2023 - campsites and solar

BCT responded to a Government consultation in early 2023 on permitted development rights relating to campsites and solar provision, among other topics. Our response can be found here.

Late 2023 - agricultural buildings, high streets and nature-based solutions

In late 2023, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) in England held another consultation on permitted development rights proposals and nature-based solutions. This consultation put forward proposals regarding the agricultural sector and high streets, among other topics, and included a call for evidence on nature-based solutions and farm diversification in collaboration with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). You can read more information on the consultation here but please note that the consultation is closed.

Here is a summary of our response to the consultation:

  • We do not agree with the expansion of permitted development rights to more situations or larger areas because we believe the process is less able to control negative environmental, ecological and cumulative impacts than the full planning permission process.
  • Additionally, the proposed expansion of certain permitted development rights is especially inappropriate in article 2(3) land because of its particular potential for high biodiversity value. Article 2(3) land is explained in Government guidance as including "land within a National Park, the Broads, an area of
    outstanding natural beauty, an area designated as a conservation area, and land within World Heritage Sites".
  • The Government consulted on the proposal to replace prior approval with design codes. Local design codes are locally agreed standards for the appearance and structure of development types. These codes have the potential to encourage environmentally-friendly development. Prior approval is required by some permitted development rights and means that an applicant needs to consult the local planning authority on particular aspects of a development. The applicant still does not have to follow the full planning permission process when seeking prior approval to exercise a permitted development right. We believe the Government's proposal for local design codes to replace prior approval is inappropriate as presented as it would erode the local ability to block harmful and inadequate proposals.
  • When changes are being made to permitted development rights, we think that environmental duties on the local planning authorities throughout the process should be made as clear as possible to avoid misunderstandings. The current lack of explicit reminders in the guidance could be easily rectified and is discussed in a guidance note created by ALGE and CIEEM.
  • Local planning authorities need more funding to increase their ecological capacity to suitable levels as well as encouragement to go further than statutory minimums when it comes to environmental targets. A survey of local authority planners and ecologists conducted by ALGE found that just 5% of respondents thought there was adequate capacity in their authority for every application that could affect biodiversity to be properly assessed for impacts.
  • Expansion of permitted development rights to create homes could result in insufficient green space provision in the local area, as well as increased pressure on the green space provision that does exist.

We also supported the Wildlife and Countryside Link response to this consultation, which can be found here.


A 2021 consultation entitled ‘Supporting housing delivery and public service infrastructure’ at first glance might not seem like a concern with regard to its impact on bats. However, this was a proposed expansion of permitted development rights.

Our asks as part of this consultation remained the same as they were in consultations in 2013 and 2014, only magnified by the potential even greater rollout of permitted development rights. Our full response can be found here.


BCT has previously expressed concerns about the permitted development process and the inconsistent consideration of European protected species as part of this - see this news piece.

In a BCT call for evidence at that time, we found that approximately half of local planning authorities did not believe that European protected species legislation had to be taken into account as part of the permitted development rights process. Despite lobbying ministers with this evidence, the line from Government has since remained the same, which is that local planning authorities should already know that European protected species legislation has to be taken into account.

We are in favour of explicit and clear references to environmental duties within this process and have argued for this since.


In October 2013, BCT responded to the consultation on 'greater flexibility for change of use' (permitted development) which incorporated farm buildings and included their demolition. Our concerns were based on the fact that no mention at all was made for the consideration of impacts on European Protected Species.

Next: Quinquennial Review consultation