Does that garden room you are after need planning permission?
You may be surprised by the answer
While the summer may be behind us, it is not stopping people from investing in a building for their garden, whether that be a new shed, garden room, or garden office - the latter of which has only continued to grow in interest since 2020.
But with that comes the question: do I need planning permission for that?
Data shows that there are more than 1,000 searches per month online for whether a garden building needs planning permission in the UK, an ongoing trend that sustains all year round.
It turns out that it is a valid question to ask and that there are a number of factors to consider that may require you to seek planning permission for the building you want in your garden.
Russell Atkinson CEO at Crane Garden Buildings, explains: “Several factors come into play when considering planning permission for a garden building, whether it's for a traditional summer house or a new shed."
"At the forefront is the locality. Regulations significantly differ for those residing in rural areas compared to urban settings. When purchasing a garden building, proximity to natural beauty sites and its potential impact on visibility must also be taken into account. Additionally, the distance from your neighbour's garden perimeter and the height of the intended structure are crucial considerations.
“While it is also a rare occurrence, should you want a building in your front garden that would require planning permission as well. Specialist providers can offer guidance, but it's prudent to consult with your local authority to ensure compliance."
Busting the myths of planning permission for garden buildings
As has been established, all garden structures, including garden sheds, summer houses and garages, are subject to planning permission rules.
And providing certain criteria are met and the building is considered permitted development, you can proceed without needing planning permission. Below are six key considerations that need to be taken into account:
Size and proximity do matter
Size and placement are the two biggest factors to consider with any purchase of a garden building and these rules may differ depending on your locality.
Typically, however, these are the rules on size and proximity that need to be followed:
Structures positioned within two metres of the property boundary can have a maximum overall height of 2.5 metres without requiring planning permission.
However, larger buildings near the boundary can adjust their roof height to meet this requirement.
For structures situated more than two metres from the boundary, a single-storey garden building can have a maximum eave height of 2.5 meters. Dual-pitched roof buildings can reach a maximum overall height of four metres, and pent-roofed buildings can go up to three metres.
It is also important that your garden buildings occupy less than 50% of the area around the original house, while it should also maintain a specific distance from roads or public highways.
This shouldn’t be considered a scary thing for customers to consider. Planning permission is very rarely an issue, so long as the garden building falls within permitted development and also follows the basic rules of being no higher than 2.5 metres if they are 2 metres or further away from a boundary.
A garden building that is being lived in needs different regulations
Over the course of 2023, there has been a growing trend of homeowners purchasing garden rooms and renting them out on websites like Airbnb.
While garden buildings are often used as a place to kick back and relax, it is important to know that any garden rooms used as habitable spaces, such as bedrooms, kitchens, or living areas, are generally subject to stricter regulations.
These regulations are in place to ensure safety, adherence to building codes, and compliance with zoning laws. It's advisable to consult with your local planning authority or a professional architect to understand the specific requirements and regulations in your area, as they can vary based on location and the nature of the project.
Listed buildings and designated land have additional restrictions
Listed buildings are structures that have been deemed of national importance due to their architectural or historic significance, and they come with specific regulations to preserve their character.
Similarly, designated land includes areas such as national parks, conservation areas, World Heritage Sites, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the Broads. These areas have additional restrictions to protect the environment and heritage.
If your property falls under either category (listed building or designated land), you will likely need planning permission for any garden room installation, even if it would typically be permitted in a non-listed, non-designated area.
It's crucial to consult with your local planning authority or a heritage consultant to ensure compliance with the regulations specific to your property.
If you go one step further and require a structure to be built and attached to a listed property, you will need both listed building consent and planning permission
Planning regulations aren’t the same everywhere
While it was alluded to earlier, it is false to consider that planning permission is the same no matter where you live.
For example, someone living in a densely populated location like Westminster or Kensington will have more stringent regulations compared to someone living in the Yorkshire Dales or the Peak District.
Likewise, rules may even differ within a town or city depending on whether the person is living in a conservation or non-conservation area. With regards to the former, garden buildings are often subject to rigorous scrutiny. Stricter rules might apply to maintain the area’s heritage, requiring detailed planning permission even for seemingly minor changes.
Planning permission isn’t as complicated as it sounds
It is easy to feel daunted or put off by the prospect of having to attain planning permission.
But while planning regulations can be intricate, seeking guidance from local planning authorities or experts can simplify the process. Many suppliers offer support and advice to ensure buyers understand the rules applicable to their situation.
Understanding these considerations can empower buyers to navigate the planning permission process more effectively, ensuring their garden-building projects comply with regulations and avoid legal complications.
Retroactive permission isn’t always a done thing
There is a saying you might be familiar with, that it is easier to ask for forgiveness than permission. In this case, it would be to press ahead with buying your garden building - whether it needs planning permission or not - and explore later.
In this case, we’d completely avoid that approach.
Not only can installing a garden building without planning permission result in legal consequences but it also cannot be guaranteed that retroactive permission will be forthcoming. It’s far better and easier to obtain the necessary permissions before construction even begins.