5. Do I Need Planning Permission in France?

  1. Planning Permission or Works Declaration?
  2. Building Works to Main Property
  3. New/External Building Works
  4. Creating Openings in Buildings

5.2. Planning Permission and Internal Building Works

In relation to building works to the main property, the rules governing the need for planning consent or a works declaration are set out below, although this section needs to be read in conjunction with Section 5.1. for a broader explanation.

5.2.1. Internal Renovation Works

Ordinarily, renovation and works of alteration to the interior of the property do not require authorisation of any kind. However, if the the property is a listed building (monument historique) then planning consent is required in all cases. If the property is in a conservation area, and the works modify the structure of the property, or affect an important architectural element of the property, then planning permission is also required.

5.2.2. Attic Conversions

The rules that apply depend on the circumstances, not always capable of easy interpretation.

No authorisation of any kind is required provided you are not creating any new openings, you are not altering the structure of the roof, and the new surface area is no greater than 5m².

Areas less than 1.80m in height are not considered part of the habitable surface area.

If the new habitable space less than 20m² and/or you are proposing to create new openings in the roof-space and/or altering the roof structure, then a works declaration is required.

If the surface area is greater than 20m²/40m² (depending on local authority area) it requires planning permission.

Where also the new space takes the total floor area of the property over 150m² then you need to make a planning application and use an architect.

You will also need to make a planning application if you are increasing the height of the external wall in order to create a window opening.

5.2.3. New Openings

If you are seeking to create a new opening in an existing dwelling then you need only submit a works declaration, provided you are not increasing the height of the external wall, in which case a planning application is required. If your property is close to a neighbouring property there are also laws which govern the right to create openings, in order to control overlooking. These rules are called les règles de servitudes de jours et de vue.

We have more detailed on this issue in our Guide to Creating Openings in Buildings.

5.2.4. Septic Tank

On its own, the installation of a septic tank on a renovation or new build project does not require either planning consent or a works declaration, but is subject to separate approval. A fee of up to around €200 is often payable as part of this approval process.

Local councils have responsibility for controlling individual sewage systems, so you will need to make an application to the local mairie or an inter-communal structure called the Service Public de l´Assainissement Non Collectif (SPANC) using a form, generally known as a Demande d'Installation d'un Dispositif d'Assainissement Automne (DIDAA).

If you are installing a septic tank as part of a works requiring planning consent, then the septic tank is considered as part of the planning application. Some authorities request the submission of a distinct DIDDA application attached to the planning application, whilst others seem willing to allow it to be included on the planning application itself.

Most will insist on a soil test being undertaken, and the site may also be subject to prior and post work inspection.

Visit your local mairie and clarify with them just how they want you to play it.

5.2.5. Change of Use

If you are proposing to change the use of an existing building (say from barn to house), it would be unlikely that you could get away without having to submit a planning application. It will depend in the first place on the local planning regulations. If, under the local plan, conversion is permitted, then a planning application would only be required if you were proposing to undertake alterations of a structural nature, or to alter the external facade of the building. Otherwise, you need only submit a works declaration.

5.2.6. External Rendering

If you are proposing to apply a new render to the external walls, then you need to submit a works declaration.

5.2.7. Solar Panels

The installation of solar panels on the roof of a property requires a works declaration as it changes the external appearance of the property.

5.2.8. Satellite Dish

The installation of a satellite dish requires the submission of a works declaration, as it changes the external appearance of the property. However, it is a rule that is observed more in the breach than the observance. Nevertheless, if you are in a conservation area, then you need to be more careful about transgressing the rule.

5.2.9. Mezzanine

If you are proposing to create a mezzanine space within the property, then you will need to submit a planning application if it creates new floorspace in excess of 20m²/40m², depending on the local authority area.

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