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Do I Need Planning Permission for a Skylight?


Skylights bring light where there was darkness, improve a home’s ventilation and energy efficiency and enhance its kerb appeal. If the cost of a kitchen remodel has you down, not to worry! You can enhance your entire domestic experience far more cost-effectively by having the team at Rooflights & Roof Lanterns install skylights in your home. Of course, any type of home renovation or remodelling project raises the spectre of planning permission. And it's no different for skylights. So in this brief guide, we will answer the question "Do I need planning permission for a skylight?"

The Importance of Planning Permission

Planning permission refers to official permission granted to a home or business owner from the local authority to erect or alter a building. If you plan on adding an extension to your home, to remodel the kitchen, to build a garage or to alter your home in some other significant way you will almost always need planning permission before you can begin.

Skylights are one of those projects that fall into a grey area in regards to planning permission. In some cases it will be required, in other cases it will not be. Let’s take a closer look now at what separates one skylight project from another.

Factors Affecting Planning Permission for Skylights

In certain instances, planning permission will not be required to install a skylight or skylights. But you cannot take it for granted that such is the case. As a general rule, you will not need to apply for planning permission if your proposed skylight installation does not exceed the following parameters:

  • The skylight does not protrude more than 150 mm above the roof plane and
  • no part of the skylight is higher than the highest point on the existing roof and
  • the building is not a listed building or located in a conservation area.

If your project meets all three of those criteria you will typically not need to obtain planning permission before proceeding. In all other cases, you will need to get permission from your local authority before proceeding with your skylight installation.

Permitted Development Rights

Permitted Development enables homeowners to perform certain types of modifications to their home without having to obtain planning permission. Exactly what falls under the purview of Permitted Development will vary from place to place but in most locations, the following projects are Permitted Development:

  • A small, single-storey extension to a home
  • A porch of no larger than 3 square metres
  • A loft conversion or basement conversion
  • Taking down internal walls
  • Installing a modest number of solar panels
  • Adding skylights or roof lanterns

If your proposed skylights meet the requirements laid out in the preceding section you will probably not need planning permission. But again, just to be safe, we would recommend you ask anyway.

When Planning Permission is Required

Planning permission is required to install skylights if the skylight protrudes too far above the roof line, if any part of it rises above the peak of the existing roof, or if the home is located in a conservation area. Planning permission is always required if the home is a listed building.

Failure to obtain planning permission if required can lead to a stop work notice, the requirement to file a retroactive planning application or a significant fine (theoretically of unlimited size). 

Note: if more than 4 years pass after the completion of unauthorised work the local authority will lose the ability to perform enforcement actions.

The Planning Permission Process

If it turns out that you need planning permission for the type of skylight you want to install you will find that the process is actually fairly straightforward. Here are the steps you will need to take.

  1. Fill out the planning permission forms: These cost £60 and are available from your local authority.
  2. Submit plans: In most cases, you will need to submit a site plan, a location plan, a roof plan and elevations to show what the skylights will look like when in place.
  3. Submit supporting documents: These can vary quite a bit from location to location so you will need to ask someone at the local authority exactly what type of supporting docs you will need for skylights.

For a modest-sized project like skylights, you can expect the local authority to take about 8 weeks to reach a decision.

Tips for a Successful Application

Perhaps the most important aspect of the planning permission application process is making sure you submit accurate, high-quality supporting documents. As such you will want to enlist the services of a qualified architect to create clear plans.


There are a few instances when you will not need planning permission to install skylights on your home. However, in most cases, you probably will. When applying for planning permission just make sure you fill out all the necessary forms and that your supporting documents will pass technical muster.

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