Last edited 31 Mar 2020

Principal elevation

The term 'principal elevation' typically refers to the front elevation of a dwellinghouse. The front elevation of most dwellinghouses faces a road. However, where it is not obvious which elevation is the principal elevation, other factors may be considered, including:

  • The position of the main door.
  • The position of windows.
  • The relationship to the road.
  • Boundary treatments.
  • Ornamentation.

There can only be one principal elevation.

The 'rear elevation' is the elevation opposite the principal elevation.

Side elevations link the principal and rear elevation.

Permitted development rights for householders, Technical Guidance, published by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in September 2019 suggests that:

‘...in most cases the principal elevation will be that part of the house which fronts (directly or at an angle) the main highway serving the house (the main highway will be the one that sets the postcode for the house concerned). It will usually contain the main architectural features such as main bay windows or a porch serving the main entrance to the house. Usually, but not exclusively, the principal elevation will be what is understood to be the front of the house... There will only be one principal elevation on a house. Where there are two elevations which may have the character of a principal elevation, for example on a corner plot, a view will need to be taken as to which of these forms the principal elevation.’

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