How to plan a wraparound home extension

Combining a rear and side extension requires specific planning and research, but can pay dividends in adding space to your home.

By Paula Woods | 11 May 2020

Extending into a side return and at the rear of a property creates a generously sized L-shape space, but comes with its own challenges.. Here’s what you need to know.

wrap around extension with glazed skylights - grand designs

Image: Brian O’Tuama Architects has used a structural steel frame to transform a once inefficient layout into a large, extended, single internal space. Overhead structural glazing and industrial-style, slim metal Mondrian doors by IQ Glass flood the new interior with light. 

Rear extensions and side return extensions are both popular choices for those seeking to add more space to their home.

If you have the space, you can also choose a complete wraparound extension, creating an L-shape addition which will make the room longer and wider – perfect for modern, open-plan living.

A wraparound extension is, however, more than a sum of its parts, and needs to be considered differently to a side and rear extension. Here are the key differences you should consider.

Planning permission

darren oldfield wrap around extension with glazed side return – grand designs

Image: Darren Oldfield Architects designed this contemporary, zinc-clad wraparound extension. 

A wraparound will always require planning permission. ‘Under permitted development you can extend along the side and separately at the rear, but the two cannot be joined together to form a wraparound extension unless permission has been granted,’ explains Darren Oldfield, director of Darren Oldfield Architects.

Some local authorities even have a policy that doesn’t allow wraparounds, although perceptions are gradually changing and different planning departments may interpret the guidelines in their own way. Planners will want to see that neighbours won’t be unduly affected, especially in regards to light and privacy. Consequently, two-storey wraparounds are highly unlikely to be granted permission on terraced homes, and, even on single-storey extensions, you may find restrictions are placed on size and height. ‘The pre-application system is a great way to determine what would be possible and to open a dialogue with the planners,’ suggests Robert Maxwell, director of Maxwell & Company London.