Legal Q&A: Can we convert our wasted space?

We have a big flat but it only has one bedroom so we would like to create a small second bedroom in some wasted space. This would involve creating a new window, how do we get permission to do this?
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Question: We bought a new-build conversion flat 18 months ago, over the second and top floors. It is a big flat but only has one bedroom, so we would like to create a small second bedroom in some wasted space in the kitchen. This would require creating a new window. How do we go about getting permission for this?
It would be on the south side where there is a large terrace belonging to our neighbours opposite and where our neighbour downstairs has a high window/skylight.
Answer: This is a recent conversion for which presumably planning permission and Building Regulations consent were granted. Liaise with the local authority regarding the need for these consents to cover the changes you now plan. The installation of a new window will require approval.
Your planned alterations are also likely to need the prior written consent of the freeholder, so your first move must be to take a look at your lease. Indeed, should you try to sell the flat in the future and the layout of the property differed from that shown on the lease plan, any buyer would be likely to ask to see the freeholder’s consent to those alterations.
Depending on the terms of your lease, you may have to pay your freeholder a premium. This is because the sort of changes you wish to make to the flat are likely to increase its value.
Remember to consider any covenants that may affect the leasehold title and may, for example, prohibit the installation of a window.

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If you have a question for Fiona McNulty, please email or write to Legal Solutions, Homes & Property, London Evening Standard, 2 Derry Street, W8 5EE. We regret that questions cannot be answered individually but we will try to feature them here. Fiona is legal director in the real estate group of Foot Anstey LLP in Exeter.
These answers can only be a very brief commentary on the issues raised and should not be relied on as legal advice. No liability is accepted for such reliance. If you have similar issues, you should obtain advice from a solicitor.

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