Garden Planning Permission – Can you build it?
Planning permission can be a confusing and tricky subject to get right, however we’ve put together a guide on how to make sure you get it right first time, every time.
The rules that govern outbuildings cover log cabins, summer houses, sheds, garages and greenhouses, as well as other kinds of buildings like kennels, ponds, swimming pools and enclosures. It’s important to remember that for any garden building, you build a good, solid base for it to sit on. For information on how to build a base for a garden building, check out our guide on building a base.
Do you need Planning Permission?
Click here to view the 'do you need planning permission' infographic.
Though outbuildings can be built without planning permission, they need to adhere to strict rules governing their existence to be built without planning permission. Garden buildings (gazebos, sheds, log cabins etc.) need to:
- Have only one storey;
- *Have eaves (the bottom part of the roof) no higher than 2.5 metres, with the overall maximum height being 4 metres for a dual pitched roof (two sides to the roof) or 3 metres for any other building roof;
- Not have a veranda or balcony (this applies to the house as well);
- Not be on a raised platform higher than 300 millimetres;
- Not have a microwave antenna;
- Not be a separate, self-contained living area
The rules around where you can place a log cabin are also strict. The building must:
- Be at least 2 metres from any boundary if more than 2.5 metres tall (total) or 1 metre from any boundary if lower than 2.5 metres;
- Not be forward of the principal elevation (front wall) of the original house (original house is defined as the house as it was first built or, as it stood on 1st July 1948 if it was built after)
- The building must not take up over 50% of all land around the original house, nor is it allowed to combine with any other outside buildings to take up over 50% of all land around the original house – For example, if there is a shed taking up 30% of the surrounding area of the property and a kennel taking up 15%, planning permission would be required to build a proposed greenhouse taking up 20% of the land around the property. Extensions and conservatories are not considered part of the original house, and so are classed as taking up a portion of the surrounding area as well
Additional placement rules
Though most people won’t need to consider these, there are specific rules governing the placement of log cabins on designated land, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty or near listed buildings. These are:
- If the garden building is on designated land, it must not be at the side of your house;
- If you live in a national parks protected land, the building must not be more than 10 square metres in size if placed more than 20 metres from any wall of your house;
- It must not be within the boundary of a listed building
Planning Permission and working from home
If you plan on working from home in a spare room, extension, log cabin or shed, you don’t usually need planning permission to do so; however there are some rules you need to abide by. Your home needs to:
- Still be primarily used as a private residence;
- Not cause a marked increase in people visiting the house or increase in traffic from visitors;
- Not have deliveries which would disturb neighbours
- Not create excessive noise or smells, particularly during unreasonable hours;
- Not involve things that aren’t usual for a house
The main issue when considering using your home or garden building as your place of work is whether it will alter the purpose of the home. Having one room of your house or a garden building devoted to work is fine, however if the business causes excessive disruption to neighbours or changes the purpose of the house (i.e. from a home to a shop) then planning permission will be required.
There are some businesses that can be run from home but will require a permit from the local council/government - child minding, for example. These permits are different to planning permission.
Living in a garden building
For many people aged 20-34, house prices and mortgages are making the first rung on the housing ladder much harder to get on. More than 25% of young people still live at home – the highest number since records began in 1996. This can present problems. As adult children come and go at all hours whilst trying to maintain a social life. This needn’t be the case however, as a log cabin can be a great way of helping your child stay at home and keep their privacy.
If you plan on using a garden building as a self-contained living area, you would require planning permission; however this could be a great solution to staying in the house. Sleeping accommodation is not covered by permitted development, and so requires planning permission.
A garden building which is also sleeping accommodation could also be subject to council tax, regardless of whether anyone’s staying in it.
Planning permission can be applied for through the Planning Portal website. Costs vary depending on what kind of work you are proposing and the waiting time to get a decision can be between 8 and 13 weeks. Things taken into consideration include:
- Loss of light or overshadowing;
- Design, appearance and materials;
- Nature conservation;
- Government policy.
If you’re unsure of whether you will need planning permission, it’s always best to consult a professional or your local council as this can save a lot of time and money. If you undertake changes which are in breach of the permitted development and the authorities find out, they can order you to remove any changes and return it to the state it was in before the changes were made. This will no doubt be very expensive, especially as you will most likely have already paid for the work.
Brian of Get Planning says that to make planning permission applications go through quicker, it helps to “get an accurate and well-presented set of drawings so that the applications can be made valid by the council as quickly as possible”. Having accurate drawings will allow the person(s) going through the application to make a judgement much quicker than if they are given something vague and unclear, so ensure anything submitted is as clear as possible. You should also talk to the planners and if there are any minor changes they suggest, it will be to help you get a decision quicker.
Brian has some more top tips to make sure you make the most out of your application:
- Withdrawing an application is pointless and a ‘free go’ is usually available, whether or not the first is withdrawn;
- Don’t trust a builder to know the Permitted Development rules;
- Trees in Conservation Areas are protected: removal must be via consent;
- Talk to the neighbours first, or at least think about the impact of the project on others;
- Use your rights: always appeal a refusal to the Planning Inspectorate. You should also appeal if you have no decision 8 weeks after validity;
- Do two planning applications in parallel if the design challenges Council policy;
- Don’t believe everything council planners say
This guide is meant as a help resource and not a definitive guide on planning permission. The above laws apply in England and to houses – different areas of types of building may have different rules. For a complete guide to planning permission, visit https://www.planningportal.gov.uk/