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Bifold Doors – Do I need planning permission?


If you’re considering installing aїr bifold doors in your home, you might have questions surrounding planning permission and the rules that coincide with this installation. As British laws and regulations can be quite complex, it is always good to check that your new installation meets the permitted standards.

Generally, bi-fold doors are one of the most straightforward installations to go through the planning department so it should be a simple process if it is required.

What is planning permission?

Planning permission in simple terms is the process of asking if a particular piece of building work can be carried out. It refers to the consent from the local authorities to approve the proposed building plans. The authorities will take into consideration a range of factors for each decision, such as the size and design of the work, as well as the impact on neighbours or parking spaces. They will want to ensure that any approved building work in their area is in keeping with the surroundings.

Decisions on whether planning permission is granted are made in line with national guidance (in the form of the National Planning Policy Framework) and the local planning policies that are set out by the local authority.

This process deters inappropriate developments and is required when a new building is being constructed or extensive changes are being made to an existing one.

If you are replacing a bifold door, this won’t usually require planning permission and is generally considered a ‘Permitted Development’. This can vary from region to region, for example if you live in an area of outstanding beauty or a conservation area, you may need to check if it is permissible to replace your glazed doors.

What are Permitted Development Rights?

Permitted Development Rights allow certain building works and changes to be carried out without having to make a planning application. They are generally in place to control the impact of building changes to protect local amenity.

The scope of Permitted Development rights are varied, covering both internal and external work. Home improvements that you can make under Permitted Development include:

  • Building a porch less than 3m2
  • Changes of use, such as loft conversions, garage conversions and basement conversions.
  • Adding rooflights
  • Home extension or conservatories within certain limitations

Flats, apartments and maisonettes do not automatically have permitted development rights and you will need to seek planning permission in these instances.

Do I need planning permission for bifold doors in an extension?

If your bifold doors are part of a new extension, they will need to be included in the plans. Extensions and conservatories of specific sizes are covered by permitted development rights, but a number of rules must be adhered to, such as how far it extends from the property. The permission to allow bifold doors into an extension will be included and you won’t need separate permission for the doors.

You also might need planning permission to widen an existing opening for your bifold door installation. It’s usually worth checking with your local authority if you plan to significantly alter a door opening. This is generally covered under Permitted Development rights but sometimes planning permission is required.

Do I need planning permission for bifold doors in a listed building?

If you live in a conservation area or a listed building and plan to install bifold doors, it is best to speak to the local authority or conservation team, as planning permission is generally needed if you wish to make alterations to a listed building.

They can offer you advice on what materials and styles are acceptable in the area as there may be restrictions on this, as in some areas, aluminium bifold doors are not considered to be acceptable as their appearance is not in keeping with the local area. In these cases, timber bifold doors are more likely to be acceptable.

To find out who your local authority is, use the Government’s search tool.

What are the Building Regulations?

Building Regulations are a set of standards that building work must meet. The Government sets these standards, and they apply to new builds and different kinds of refurbishment and renovation work. They ensure that buildings are safe and environmentally friendly by evaluating areas such as structural stability, security, ventilation, thermal efficiency, and fire safety.

Every bifold door must meet Building Regulations but the range of Building Regulations that your installation has to meet might be different. The best way to ensure that your bifold doors meet Building Regulations is to use an installer registered with an organisation such as Certass or Fensa.

How do I get planning permission for bifold doors?

If you have discovered that you need planning permission for your bifold doors, you’ll need to contact your local authority. These types of applications have a process that usually requires paperwork to be filled out and submitted.

The time it takes to gain planning permission varies but it can take around eight weeks to obtain. This can be frustrating for homeowners, so it is always good to apply well in advance of plans going ahead.

Start your aluminium bifold door project with aїr   

At aїr, we can advise you if you will need planning permission for any of the home improvement projects we carry out. Our team will be able to talk you through it and help you develop your project. For more information, contact us on 020 3603 3746 or fill in a contact form on our website to find your nearest aїr Accredited Retailer.

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