What is permitted development
You can perform certain types of work without needing to apply for planning permission. These are called "permitted development rights".
They derive from a general planning permission granted not by the local authority but by Parliament in the The Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015.
Permitted development rights which apply to many common projects for houses do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. Similarly, commercial properties have different permitted development rights to dwellings.
If you want to be certain that the existing use of a building is lawful for planning purposes, or that your proposal is a permitted development, you can apply for a Lawful Development Certificate.
Some of your permitted development rights may have been removed by issuing an 'Article 4' direction. This will mean that you have to submit a planning application for work which normally does not need one.
More information about permitted development can be found at the Planning Portal.