Waltham Forest architects | Residential architect projects

At GOAStudio London residential architecture we have extensive experience with working with the Waltham Forest planning department and we are familiar with all the relevant planning policies that might apply for your home project.

Please see below links to some of our Waltham Forest residential architect projects for ideas and inspiration.

Your brief requirements, the setting of the property, and the immediate context of the property are some of the factors that will determine what home alterations the Waltham Forest planners will be prepared to allow. We will advise you about what is reasonable to expect to get approval, what might be tricky but possible, and what most likely the planners will say no to.

According to the Waltham Forest residential design guidance (Residential Extensions and Alterations, Supplementary Planning Document, Adopted February 2010) these are some of the key considerations that will determine the outcome of your planning application.

Below we have copied and highlighted extracts of the most relevant current policy and advice for your home project.



Summary planning and design guide | Waltham Forest residential architect advice


Rear extensions, particularly single storey rear extensions, are usually the most obvious and simplest way of extending your home. However, consideration needs to be given to their size in relation to the original house and potential impact on the privacy, daylight and residential amenity of neighbours.

Existing layout

Generally in Waltham Forest there are two arrangements for the backs of properties, the ‘L-shape’ or the ‘square-backed’. These sketches show these different layouts.

The borough’s Victorian houses, such as those in many streets in Leyton and Leytonstone, are often terraced, on narrow plots and L-shaped. It is generally inappropriate to square the property Urban Design Team, London Borough of Waltham Forest off by infilling the ‘L-shape’. This can create a ‘tunnel effect’ for your neighbour and therefore be too overbearing. This also applies to many of the borough’s Edwardian houses which, whilst on slightly wider plots, follow this same terraced, L-shaped layout of Victorian housing.

It may, however, be acceptable to infill the L-shape if your directly affected neighbour extends their house in the same way at the same time, and providing sufficient natural light and ventilation can be achieved internally. It may also be possible in some instances to extend ‘L-shaped’ properties by extending the existing projection, however this will be considered on a site by site basis.

Some of the borough’s Edwardian houses, however, are square-backed. This arrangement is also typical of most of the borough’s interwar houses as seen in much of Chingford and Highams Park. Extension of the square-backed layout is usually less overbearing for neighbours and therefore generally acceptable providing detailed design principles are followed.

Single storey rear extensions

As a general rule, single storey rear extensions are more likely to be acceptable than two-storey or higher developments because they are less likely to have an impact on neighbouring properties. The height of single storey rear extensions should however be kept as low as possible on the boundary with neighbours to avoid unacceptable impact.

Two storey rear extensions

Two storey rear extensions and alterations will generally have a greater impact on both the original house and in particular on neighbouring properties. Two-storey extensions are not always appropriate, particularly on standard sized Victorian or Edwardian houses and tightly spaced semi-detached properties. Particular care therefore needs to be taken to ensure that such extensions do not result in an unacceptable loss of daylight or sunlight to neighbouring properties or the proposal being out of character with its neighbours.

The 45 degree rule

In assessing extensions, the Council will use what is called the ‘45 degree rule’ as a guide in determining the acceptability of proposals. This rule is used to assess the impact on amenity of neighbours and considers the proposal in both in plan and elevation. An extension should not exceed a line taken at 45 degrees from the edge of the nearest ground floor window of a habitable room in an adjoining property if the proposed extension is single storey. For extensions greater than one storey, the 45 degree line is taken from the centre of the nearest window of an adjoining property.

The 3 metre rule

As a rule of thumb, home owners can generally extend the back of the house by up to 3 metres. Anything over this is likely to be too overbearing for neighbours. This will, however, depend on the arrangement of the back of your house and that of your neighbours (see the existing layout section above).


Conservatories that do not have a solid flank wall are usually visually and structurally lighter than other single storey extensions, with the result that they are usually less overbearing to your neighbours. Where this is the case the Council may grant permission for the structure to be greater than 3 metres from the back of the house, although this will be considered on a case by case basis.


Side extensions are only relevant to end of terrace, detached or semi-detached properties. Due to their prominence in the street, side extensions must be sympathetically designed and their scale carefully considered.

Effect on the street scene

In some streets the spaces between properties are a dominant and characteristic feature. Where this is the case a large side extension may not always be appropriate. However, if the extension is single storey and set back from the front line of the building it may be considered acceptable. Any side extension should not have an adverse impact on the established positive characteristics of the street scene.

As a general rule, a side extension should be subordinate to the main part of the house and set back from the main building line fronting the street by 1 metre. There are, however, exceptions to this so it is always advisable to discuss any proposals with a Duty Planning officer before finalising drawings.

Overshadowing neighbours

This may be an issue if your neighbour has side windows, and if your proposed extension affects the amount of light entering those windows.

When considering your application, the Council will take into account the usage and function of your neighbours’ affected room. This will depend on whether the room is defined as ‘habitable’, for example a living room, dining room, bedroom or kitchen, or ‘non-habitable’, such as a bathroom, toilet or hallway.

If the room or rooms affected are non-habitable, then a greater degree of flexibility is likely to be given because these types of rooms are used less than others. However, if the room or rooms affected are habitable, the Council will give careful consideration to any impact on loss of light to your neighbour’s property.

If the impact is considered unacceptable, the Council may ask for revised plans or alternatively refuse the application. One exception to this might be if the habitable room had additional windows on an alternative side of the house. If this were the case, the Council may consider there would be sufficient light entering from the alternative window. In most cases, impact on original windows will be given greater weight than impact on windows that are not original.


Apart from porches, this form of extension is not very common in the borough, and there is a general presumption against approving applications for them. This is because front extensions generally have a greater impact on the character of the original building and the street as a whole, particularly in typical Victorian and Edwardian developments.


Loft conversions and roof extensions are a common form of extension in Waltham Forest and are a useful way of extending a property without requiring additional land.


As a general rule, when assessing a dormer extension planning application the Council will consider whether the proportions of the extension are appropriate, whether new windows are of an appropriate size and location and relate to existing windows of the original house, and how the roof of the extension is detailed.

Dormer windows should normally be to the rear of the property as they are less likely to have a detrimental impact on the character of the street scene. If front dormers are a common original feature of the street, however, a front one may be acceptable. Where front dormers are included, they should have pitched roofs matching the pitch of the main roof, unless this would be out of character with the design of the house and neighbouring buildings.

The width of a dormer on the front elevation should not normally exceed its height (measured vertically between the highest and lowest points at which the dormer intersects with the main roof) and a width no greater than 1.2m would be preferred. Where a larger window area is required, two smaller dormers should be provided, suitably spaced apart to minimise the apparent bulk of the additions.

Side dormers will only be acceptable if they do not overlook neighbours or adversely affect the street scene.

Any dormer that goes above the ridge height of the host building will not be acceptable.

Where there is an L-shaped footprint to the building, permission will not normally be granted for dormer extensions that turn the corner of the L-shape to create one large extension. This is because it will have too great a visual impact on the character of the original building. One possible solution to this would be to include two smaller dormers providing there are no issues of overlooking your neighbours.

Hip to Gable

Hip to gable extensions are generally acceptable, however the Council will take into account the impact of the roof change on the original building and the overall character of the street scene when considering a planning application.

In many cases this will be an option for semi detached houses and if changed on one property in isolation can imbalance the overall building. Where this affects a building in a prominent location (such as one at the end of a vista) the Council may consider the impact on the street scene to be too adverse. Each proposal, however, will be considered on its merits on a case by case basis.

All hip to gable extensions must have roof tiles or slates on the extension that exactly match those of the original roof so the extension does not appear as a later addition.


Mansard roofs are not a typical or characteristic roof profile in the borough and it is therefore unlikely that this type of extension will be appropriate. However all applications are considered on a case by case basis and in some locations may be acceptable.

Butterfly or London

Butterfly or London roofs are generally present in some of the Victorian terraces to the south of the Borough. These roofs usually require a mansard type extension to achieve the required floor to ceiling heights. Where they are part of a terrace they will generally not be acceptable unless carried out in conjunction with neighbours to achieve a meaningful grouping of roof alterations.

GOAStudio London residential architecture and interior design is an award-winning practice, specialising in architectural services for residential projects across London.

As your local residential architect our team aims to provide a friendly and professional service for your home project.

Our approach is based on carefully considering the particular aspects of each scheme before coming up with a creative way for you to instil your unique stamp on what we do and how we do it. 

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and Architects Registration Board (ARB).

Appoint us for your Waltham Forest residential architect project in the following areas:

E10 Leyton
Maryland, Leyton, Leytonstone
E17 Walthamstow
E4 Chingford
Lea Bridge
Forest Gate
IG8 Woodford

 Waltham Forest residential architect projects

For more information about the Waltham Forest planning department, policies and requirements please click the link above to be re-directed to Waltham Forest Council website.

Name and origin

Waltham Forest is an ancient name for what we now call Epping Forest. Waltham meant ‘forest estate’. The borough contains Walthamstow, which was originally called Wilcumestowe (meaning welcome place), but gradually morphed into Walthamstowe.  [Londonist.com] . Briefly also known as Deadwood, named by early settlers after the dead trees found in its gulch.

Waltham Forest planning department

You will probably need planning permission if you want to build something new, make a major change to your home – e.g. building an extension, or change the use of your property. There are different rules depending on what you want to do and the relevant planning policy that applies to your property. At GOAStudio London residential architecture we have a proud record of dealing with the local authority planners and building control inspectors and we are on hand to assist with your application and successfully handle every stage of your project.

GOAStudio London residential architecture media opinion publications 2 Waltham Forest residential architect projects

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Let's chat

If you need expert advice from an RIBA Chartered Architect please email us at george@goastudio.co.uk with the following:

  • the full address of your property,
  • a couple of photographs showing the areas you would like to extend and renovate,
  • a brief description of the changes you would like to carry out to your home, and
  • any estate agent or similar plans you might have available.

We will

  • assess the information and get back to you with initial advice about what might be feasible,
  • search the public planning records of your local authority to find similar planning approvals nearby,
  • prepare a free consultation to include information on design ideas, architectural fee estimates, project stages and requirements, and
  • afterwards we will prepare a detailed fixed fee proposal to cover the architectural services you will need for your project.

We are here to assist with your project.

We provide architectural services in the following London Boroughs:

Read our design, planning, and architectural guides above if you seek advice for your project.

We can help you with these home extensions and renovations:

See our guides above for ideas, inspiration and architectural advice for your home project.

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We specialise in

  • Greener homes
  • Retrofit and energy efficiency for older and traditional buildings
  • Conservation areas
  • Listed Buildings
  • Homeowner architectural services
  • Developer architectural services

RIBA Chartered architect services


GOAStudio London residential architecture limited, 86-90 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE, Hackney

GOAStudio London residential architecture limited, Chestnut Avenue South, E17 9EJ, Waltham Forest

t: 0203 984 3005
e: george@goastudio.co.uk
e: media@goastudio.co.uk


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