Planning permission in the UK refers to the permission needed in order to legally build on land. Or, to change the use of your land and its existing structures. Even for garden sheds, you may need planning permission.
A planning application to receive planning permission needs to be made to your local planning authority (LPA) or through a planning portal. LPAs are usually the local district council or borough, and each LPA will have their own planning officer or planning consultant. They’ll also have their own website that allows the public to access necessary application forms, information on development rights and the application process, contact information, and other important documents.
Planning Application– Limits and Conditions
Outbuildings and garden sheds are considered to be what’s called permitted developments. This means they shouldn’t come with any planning constraints – to a degree. Whilst they typically won’t cause contentious planning issues, before construction can get underway, there are certain limits and conditions that need to be considered.
For assistance with planning, bear in mind these planning regulations:
- garden sheds and outbuildings must be one story, and maximum eaves height cannot exceed 2.5 metres.
- Overall, your shed cannot exceed 4 metres in height for a dual pitched (apex) roof is present or 3 metres with any other type of roof (pent/flat roof).
- If a garden shed will be situated within 2 metres of a dwelling house boundary, the maximum height is 2.5 metres.
- Eave heights cannot exceed 2.5 metres.
- No raised platforms, balconies, or verandas.
- Outbuildings should cover no more than half (50%) of the area that surrounds the original home.
- Outbuildings are not allowed on land in front of a wall that forms the principal elevation.
- With buildings, containers, and enclosures found on designated land (including natural parks and other conservation areas), planning permissions will be required.
- Any outbuilding within the curtilage of a listed building will require planning permission.
- Log cabins should be at least 5 metres from the main dwelling.
Remember that these planning rules are for houses and not maisonettes, flats, or other buildings. If you’re considering constructing a garden shed or another outbuilding on one of these types of premises, you should seek further guidance regarding planning laws and guidance on flats.
Outbuilding Building Regulations
If you’re interested in constructing small, ancillary garden buildings like a garden or tool shed, it’s important to know your development rights. Typically, regulations won’t apply if the area touching the ground is no larger than 15 metres and there’s no sleeping accommodation inside.
If the floor area is 15-30 square metres in size, building regulations will still be unnecessary as long as there’s no sleeping accommodation for a permanent living space and the structure is situated at least one metre from any boundary. A building that has been constructed from materials that are non-combustible may also be exempt from building regulation approval.
Planning Permissions for Specific Garden Structures
Whilst most typical garden sheds won’t require planning permission, other garden structures will have unique considerations that you’ll want to keep in mind if you hope to put one of these outbuildings on your property.
Log Cabins and Summerhouses
Planning permission rules that govern outbuildings most commonly apply to log cabins, summerhouses, and other large structures. However, the criteria for erecting a log cabin, summerhouse, or a similar building is fairly straightforward – planning permission is only needed if your structure will be larger than the above rules or used for a habitable space.
Greenhouses would be considered permitted developments for which it’s not necessary to obtain planning permission. However, it’s important to note that any greenhouse intended for construction in a front garden may well require planning permissions.
Additionally, your title documents may prevent or restrict the construction of greenhouses on your property, so you should be sure to check out title documents to verify that these provisions aren’t in place before you get to work.
If you are intending to use your outbuilding as a garden office, you’ll need to consider the building, its location, and the proposed use in order to determine if planning permissions are required.
- The frequency and number of expected visitors
- The number of people who will work out of the office
- Whether or not goods will be brought in and out of the garden office
Special considerations other than what colour to paint your garden building need to be taken into account in a few additional scenarios when building a garden shed, tool shed, or other outbuilding.
If your property is situated on designated land, you will have additional limitations. Designated land refers to national parks, including conservation areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites, and the Norfolk Broads. If you live on one of these properties and are hoping to add a garden building to your property, you’ll need to follow these planning rules:
- The maximum area to be covered by your shed found more than 20 metres away from any wall of the original house must not exceed 10 square metres in size. If these criteria are met, the shed is considered to be a permitted development.
- When constructing a garden building on designated land, no structures will be allowed on the side of your property without requiring planning permissions.
A listed building is a structure or object that has been designated by English Heritage to be of high national importance in terms of historic interest or architecture. With these properties, there are additional rules regarding garden sheds or outbuildings, and they will require planning permissions. However, you shouldn’t let this deter you from building your garden shed, as there are still many options available to you. Whilst obtaining planning permission isn’t a difficult process, you should be sure to properly investigate the rules that govern Listed Buildings before you purchase any type of garden structure.
For more information, check out these resources
Log Cabin Planning Permission – This quick guide breaks down everything you need to know about building rules for even more types of garden building.
When Do You Need Planning Permission? – A UK Gov guide to planning permission.
Planning Control Enforcement – The New Forest National Park explains breach of planning control procedures.
Planning Permission for Trees – This helpful guide provides suggestions regarding tree protection during property construction.
Planning Permission for Farms – Review the rules of planning permissions when building outbuildings on farmland.
Obtaining Planning Permission – This public service video from UKELA explains how to obtain planning permission.
Garden Room Planning Permissions – This quick guide discusses how to build a garden room under the Permitted Development Rules.
Garden Office Planning Permissions – This guide explains the need for planning permissions when building garden buildings or offices.
Greenhouse Planning Permissions – This resource explains when planning permissions will be required for greenhouse construction.
Planning Permissions for Self-Build Projects – A helpful video providing tips and tricks to secure planning permissions for a self-built project.
Building Regulation Exemptions – This resource explains the Building Regulations 2010, which outlines the types of work that are exempt from Building Regulations.
Planning Permissions for Renewable Energy Projects – PlanLoCal explains how to navigate the process of obtaining planning permission for a low carbon, renewable energy project.
Planning Breaches – An explanation of what happens when you fail to obtain or comply with planning permission.
Breach of Condition Notices – A breach of conditions notice will require property owners to secure planning permission compliance.
Planning Permission For A Garden Room – Do you need planning permission for a garden room?
Garden Offices – A description of garden offices in the UK and when planning permissions are needed.
Stick Built or Kit – Learn The Pros & Cons
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