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Planning Issues for Self Contained Annexes

By: Chris Hogan MSc - Updated: 23 May 2018 | comments*Discuss
 
Annex Self-contained Annexes Extension

A self-contained annex is a popular reason for building an extension. Building one can give teenagers and young adults a chance to live independently but have the security of being close to home.

The same benefits apply to annexes that provide accommodation for elderly or disabled relatives. Or sometimes they are built to provide accommodation for live-in nannies, au pairs or long-term guests.

Take Care When Planning an Annex

But there are a few things you have to be careful about when planning a self-contained annex to make sure that it’s not treated as a separate dwelling. It’s a confusing area and much of the advice is contradictory. You will need to take advice about your specific property and plans.

There are two main issues, council tax and planning. The planners will take into account the use the extension is to be put to when deciding whether or not the annex should be treated as a separate property. But the council won’t, they will base their decision purely on the construction of the extension.

So here we’ll try and make sense of some of the guidelines, but we must emphasise the importance of getting advice from the planners and the council before embarking on the building of the extension. Let’s take the council first.

Council Approach to Self-Contained Annexes

The council will be assessing whether or not they should be charging your annex for council tax as through it were a separate property. To do this they will look at the physical layout of the extension, the access and the facilities.

If the accommodation is all in one area, not split around different areas of the original property, they would not treat it as a separate property. But then that would be useless as a self-contained annex so it’s not really a solution. If the annex has a complete set of equipment for living (cooking and bathing facilities as well as living and sleeping) then the council are more likely to treat it as a separate property. So that would include most annexes.

Access to self-contained annexes used to be an important factor but most councils are down-playing it now. Many council websites state that an annex does not have to have its own entrance to be considered self-contained for the purposes of council tax. In the past people would keep an access door into the house from the annex to prevent it from being treated as a separate property but that would no longer seem to apply.

Planning Position on Annexes

From the planning point of view the approach is slightly different and has changed recently, so again it’s wise to get up-to-date advice. Usage is taken into account as to whether planning permission is required.

For example an extension providing an annexe for an elderly relative who makes frequent use of the lounge in the main property would not require planning permission. On the other hand, the very same extension, if rented out to an eighteen-year-old student who was not related and had their own car, would.

Use the Right Words When Planning

If you do need to apply for planning permission for the annex, not because it’s an annex but because it’s a particular size, or because of the rules in your area, then you can describe it as an extension in all the documentation. Avoiding the word ‘annex’ in your planning documentation won’t necessarily stop the council assessing it as a separate property but calling it one almost certainly will.

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We’ve found a property which has Planning conditions attached to it.The planning conditions state that “The dwelling shall be used for single family occupancy Qaeda not split for use as two or more separate dwelling units”. We understand that the main property and the annexe both have separate postal addresses and utilities at this time.Does this constitute a breech of planning permissions.If so what would need to be done to rectify the situation?Thanks
Lizzy - 23-May-18 @ 4:21 PM
Blink - Your Question:
Hi, I have a 3 bed bungalow which I am planning to extend into loft and rear to rent out with a separate entrance into converted loft (via stairs) with 3 beds/baths , an open kitchen with a lounge. Reading upon your other blogs, it is understood there might be 2 council taxes to pay as a 2nd kitchen installing upstairs. I want to keep one single main entrance to the property with 2 separate doors from the porch accessing the ground and top portions. Can you please advice what type of planning permission is required to make this build and rent the upstairs as a single unit or independent rooms while landlords living in the ground portion? And what other mandatory things that are to be considered in this scenario? What are these type of extensions called - a separate dwelling or a self contained annexe or separate flat?Appreciate your genuine and swift response as it is very important to know before time runs out.

Our Response:
This would probably be considered a self contained annexe and you will be required to pay separate/additional council tax. Talk to your planning officer about what planning permission might be required in your area (they will give you advice for free, but obviously if you do need permission you will have to pay the application fees).
ExtensionBuild - 23-May-18 @ 3:49 PM
Hi, I have a 3 bed bungalow which I am planning to extend into loft and rear to rent out with a separate entrance into converted loft (via stairs) with 3 beds/baths , an open kitchen with a lounge.Reading upon your other blogs, it is understood there might be 2 council taxes to pay as a 2nd kitchen installing upstairs.I want to keep one single main entrance to the property with 2 separate doors from the porch accessing the ground and top portions. Can you please advice what type of planning permission is required to make this build and rent the upstairs as a single unit or independent rooms while landlords living in the ground portion? And what other mandatory things that are to be considered in this scenario? What are these type of extensions called - a separate dwelling or a self contained annexe or separate flat? Appreciate your genuine and swift response as it is very important to know before time runs out.
Blink - 23-May-18 @ 7:39 AM
soph - Your Question:
Hi there, my brother owns his own home and already has planning permission to extend the living space and kitchen, he also has a garage at the bottom of the garden that he either wants to convert into a self contained living space for me and my son or knock it down and build a "granny annexe" for us, we would only have space for bedrooms, small living space and a toilet/sink and will be using the main house kitchen to cook, bathroom to shower and main living space during the day. Would getting planning permission for this affect the planning permission already in place for the extension? And would I have to pay council tax even though he wouldn't be able to rent it out on its own as it won't technically have a bathroom and won't have a kitchen?

Our Response:
He may need planning permission for this as it's going to slept in/used individually rather than used as a an additional family room. Check with the council tax as each area seeems to vary the rules slightly.
ExtensionBuild - 22-May-18 @ 3:49 PM
Hi there, my brother owns his own home and already has planning permission to extend the living space and kitchen, he also has a garage at the bottom of the garden that he either wants to convert into a self contained living space for me and my son or knock it down and build a "granny annexe" for us, we would only have space for bedrooms, small living space and a toilet/sink and will be using the main house kitchen to cook, bathroom to shower and main living space during the day. Would getting planning permission for this affect the planning permission already in place for the extension? And would I have to pay council tax even though he wouldn't be able to rent it out on its own as it won't technically have a bathroom and won't have a kitchen?
soph - 16-May-18 @ 8:03 PM
Linda - Your Question:
Hi we have recently built a double garage with home office over and obtained the relevant planning permission. I am now thinking it won’t be used much and is so big we could convert to living accommodation for my daughter on her return from uni. Do I need to get planning permission again for change of use from home office to living quarters ? I am also thinking I might be able to rent it out with air b n b. Would this also be an issue ?

Our Response:
If you are going to be adding facilities likea bathroom or kitchen, you may need planning for change of use. The easiest thing to do is ask your planning officer, they will give you advice on this free of charge.
ExtensionBuild - 4-Apr-18 @ 11:30 AM
Hi we have recently built a double garage with home office over and obtained the relevant planning permission. I am now thinking it won’t be used much and is so big we could convert to living accommodation for my daughter on her return from uni. Do I need to get planning permission again for change of use from home office to living quarters ? I am also thinking I might be able to rent it out with air b n b. Would this also be an issue ?
Linda - 1-Apr-18 @ 2:45 PM
Hi. I would like to get some advise on the following. I have a basement thst is converted into an annex with kitchen, bathroom, living area with a shared door to the utility room with the house and it also has its entrance. The sbared door also leads to the kitchen via staircase. I have planning permission butthe council has just send me a letter that they want a site visit to see that the annex is used ancillary to the main dwelling and not independently. What does this mean? Does it matter who lives there? Thanks.
Anna - 7-Mar-18 @ 8:22 PM
Overtaxed? - Your Question:
Hi, To clarify we are trying to find out what modifications we can make (if any) so that VOA don't think we have an annexe. Hopefully we can make these without planning but not sure if we need building control. Thanks

Our Response:
Usually if it can't be "let" separately (i.e no kitchen) then you wouldn't have to pay Council tax. Building control permission is usually only needed for structural changes etc. Bricking up your external door might not be an option because of building control, but if there's an open arch way/ or double french doors etc into the bit they are classing as an annex. Then no kitchen or bedroom,it's quite clear that you aren't using it as such. It might be worth asking a valuation or planning consultant for specific help.
ExtensionBuild - 5-Mar-18 @ 12:51 PM
Hi, To clarify we are trying to find out what modifications we can make (if any) so that VOA don't think we have an annexe. Hopefully we can make these without planning but not sure if we need building control. Thanks
Overtaxed? - 2-Mar-18 @ 11:27 AM
Overtaxed? - Your Question:
Hi, We have an area of our house that has an external door and a doorway from the kitchen. Upon purchasing the kitchen doorway was locked and bricked up, both door and bricks have been removed. The area was a kitchen/bathroom/bedroom & lounge. We thought we could convert to Utility/Cloakroom/Study/Snug but council think otherwise. What do we need to do to make the conversion in the eyes of the council. They will not tell us and will not even answer questions such as "what if I brick up the back door?" Any advice would be appreciated thanks.

Our Response:
Is this a question for council tax purposes? Planning? Building Control? Sorry it's a bit unclear.
ExtensionBuild - 28-Feb-18 @ 1:58 PM
Hi, We have an area of our house that has an external door and a doorway from the kitchen. Upon purchasing the kitchen doorway was locked and bricked up, both door and bricks have been removed. The area was a kitchen/bathroom/bedroom & lounge. We thought we could convert to Utility/Cloakroom/Study/Snug but council think otherwise. What do we need to do to make the conversion in the eyes of the council. They will not tell us and will not even answer questions such as "what if I brick up the back door?"Any advice would be appreciated thanks.
Overtaxed? - 27-Feb-18 @ 11:11 AM
Hi ive just bought a house and want to build an annex in the garden but have no idea where to start. Can you please help and advise me. Thank you
Marian - 4-Jan-18 @ 5:47 PM
Hi there ive recently bought a house that the previous owner said that one part of her barn had planning on it for a annex im wanting to turn it into a annex but dont no where to start could you help me with this.
Kim - 22-Dec-17 @ 10:53 PM
We are thinking of converting a part of our house into a self contained studio flat to rent out but we have no idea where to start?
Kez - 19-Dec-17 @ 11:30 PM
Hi there, just looking for some advice please... My family and I have been living in a self contained annex on my in-law's land for over a year now and we're thinking we would quite like to extend the annex in the next year or so. One of the issues is that technically my in-laws live i a flat, it's a large house split into two. My question is, would we need to get planning permission to extend? Thanks in advance!
woodlandwonderer - 22-Nov-17 @ 9:52 AM
Does anyone know if councils allow the build of a granny annex in the garden of a council property? It is a very large garden and would not infringe on anyone's privacy.
Hopeful - 20-Oct-17 @ 4:34 PM
Reb - Your Question:
Hi,I wonder if you could advise me, we recently moved into my father's house and converted his garage/barn into a place for him (kitchen/bath/bed) it is separate to the house but runs off all our supplies so we pay the bills.He built it over 20 years ago and I'm pretty sure never got any planning. What should we do? and is he aloud to live there? Also we are obviously paying council tax for the house, but do we need to do anything more Council Tax?Very much appreciate your feedback and thoughtsThanks

Our Response:
You will need to check with your planning department if it's now used for residential purposes as that constitutes a change of use. If an annex or outbuilding is self-contained with its own living area as well as cooking and washing facilities/toilet even if it shares common services with a main building, is still liable for council tax. So you will need to pay separate council tax on the coverted barn. Discounts may be applicable if your father is a pensioner etc
ExtensionBuild - 17-Oct-17 @ 11:39 AM
tonyuk - Your Question:
HiI am planning to buy a property for buy to let, it has good size garden where you can build 2 annex 20 x14ft size, but then there will be very small part of garden left.Can you please let me know how much garden you have to leave for house if you build annex?Thanks

Our Response:
You should contact your local plannign authority about this.In general, no more than 50% of the area of land around the original house should be taken up by other buildings. You will need planning permission for any change of use (eg if these buildings were for residential use rather an simple a garden office etc).
ExtensionBuild - 17-Oct-17 @ 11:15 AM
Hi, I wonder if you could advise me, we recently moved into my father's house and converted his garage/barn into a place for him (kitchen/bath/bed) it is separate to the house but runs off all our supplies so we pay the bills. He built it over 20 years ago and I'm pretty sure never got any planning. What should we do? and is he aloud to live there? Also we are obviously paying council tax for the house, but do we need to do anything more Council Tax? Very much appreciate your feedback and thoughts Thanks
Reb - 16-Oct-17 @ 12:13 PM
Hi I am planning to buy a property for buy to let, it has good size garden where you can build 2 annex 20 x14ftsize, but then there will be very small part of garden left. Can you please let me know how much garden you have to leave for house if you build annex? Thanks
tonyuk - 16-Oct-17 @ 11:44 AM
Hi, my wife and I are considering building a annex/bungalow/what ever other name you can think of, for her disabled mum. It would just be bedroom, shower room, and lounge kitchen. My garden is a good 30m long so I have the room. What do you think is best? Because we would be caring for her also. Thank you
Sid - 15-Oct-17 @ 9:08 AM
If I build a self-contained annexe for rental. What is the minimum area, and does it have to have a garden ? Thanks for any help
Giggsy - 13-Oct-17 @ 6:15 PM
Gabyfallonos - Your Question:
Me and my partner are interested in building a ‘log cabin’ in his childhood home garden, which is quite long and fitting for it. The whole do you need/don’t you need planning permission is really confusing! It’s purpose is to allow us to live together and save for a family home so I’m guessing it would require some type of permission how would I go about this?

Our Response:
Yes this would need permission if you plan on living in it. If you contact the planning department of your local council, they will be able to tell you how to apply.
ExtensionBuild - 13-Oct-17 @ 11:38 AM
Me and my partner are interested in building a ‘log cabin’ in his childhood home garden, which is quite long and fitting for it. The whole do you need/don’t you need planning permission is really confusing! It’s purpose is to allow us to live together and save for a family home so I’m guessing it would require some type of permission how would I go about this?
Gabyfallonos - 12-Oct-17 @ 2:19 AM
Simes - Your Question:
We have horse stabling at the bottom of our garden and use the fields behind to graze horses.Our existing drive way from the front of the house terminates at an old prefab garage (at one side of the house)Would we need Planning to remove this garage (it is not original to house) and extend our drive to the stables (about 100 metres down the bottom of garden)We live in a semi rural/urban area in MaidstoneCannot find any information about this on the web.

Our Response:
It's likely that this would be considered change of use and are creating a direct access that we assume wasn't there previously. Your planning officer will be able to tell you (free of charge) whether or not you need to apply for planning permission.
ExtensionBuild - 6-Oct-17 @ 2:29 PM
We have horse stabling at the bottom of our garden and use the fields behind to graze horses. Our existing drive way from the front of the house terminates at an old prefab garage (at one side of the house) Would we need Planning to remove this garage (it is not original to house) and extend our drive to the stables (about 100 metres down the bottom of garden) We live in a semi rural/urban area in Maidstone Cannot find any information about this on the web.
Simes - 4-Oct-17 @ 4:12 PM
Hi, I am in the process of buying a property which has a detached annex. It's previously been described as an annex in 2014 when it was sold to the current vendors but on the current description it's a garden studio! My question is do I need planning permission to knock the "studio" down and build a new annex (for my parents to live) or should I add to the existing building? Thanks
Andrew - 25-Aug-17 @ 10:59 AM
JAY- Your Question:
Hi, I bought a property in 1998 with a seperate detached brick built bungalow, seperate kitchen and bathroom that was previously converted in 1986 to a "granny annexe". We have always had to pay seperate council tax on it, although weve mainly used it only for the kids. I wished to rent it out to my oldest son, or sell it to him as he has just been made homeless from a long term let in Brighton, yet Ive been informed by the council I cannot charge rent on it, due to the fact its use is ancillary to the home, and its a granny annexe, regardless of the fact we pay rent on it. We are looking at selling it as a seperate dwelling to him now but how easy is it to split it from the deeds and what type of change of use do I need to obtain?

Our Response:
Contact your planning department and find out whether you need to apply for "change of use" permission.
ExtensionBuild - 8-Aug-17 @ 12:55 PM
Hi, i bought a property in 1998 with a seperate detached brick built bungalow, seperate kitchen and bathroom that was previously converted in 1986 to a "granny annexe" . We have always had to pay seperate council tax on it, although weve mainly used it only for the kids. I wished to rent it out to my oldest son, or sell it to him as he has just been made homeless from a long term let in Brighton, yet Ive been informed by the council I cannot charge rent on it, due to the fact its use is ancillary to the home, and its a granny annexe, regardless of the fact we pay rent on it. We are looking at selling it as a seperate dwelling to him now but how easy is it to split it from the deeds and what type of change of use do i need to obtain?
JAY - 6-Aug-17 @ 12:05 PM
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