Planning Permission & Building Regulations
for Outbuildings, Garden Studios, Garden Offices, Garden Rooms,
Garden Buildings, Outdoor Kitchens, Granny Annexes and
Accommodation Buildings for family members
Will planning permission be required to build in your garden? We
are designers and builders of complete projects and everyone wants /
needs to know this first. You found it, the answers are here!
A brief summary followed by every detail.
Here is a brief summary of the information needed to answer
the question - Do I need planning permission for my Garden Building
project or Annexe and what about Building Regulations?
"It is very important to understand that Building Regulations and
Planning Permission are two completely separate subjects".
I cannot emphasise this enough so here it is again - Do not confuse
planning permission and building regulations. If you want to build a
structure with a footprint of 30 square metres or under then the
only mandatory Building Regulation that applies is electrical safety
"Part P". You will need a qualified electrician to sign off for
electrical safety (that's all). You will need to understand the
restrictions associated with Permitted Development "height and
proximity to your boundary" etc.) These are all detailed below.
My first advice is - "always make sure that
your proposal is neighbour friendly, because if not you will find
the process unnecessarily stressful".
Above - latest annexe completed - on the left low pitch roof
full living annexe May 2016 and on the right - latest Garden Studio
with curved roof - high spec... - June 2016 (Both meet PD rules).
Just completed a Granny Annexe 30 sq. metres by converting and
extending a garage to additional living accommodation again within
Now you have found the information resource you are looking for
you can choose to read all of the information below. Or ask specific
questions by email direct to me
Detailed Information (All of it)
This document applies to detached garden structures and
outbuildings including sheds, studios, offices, gymnasiums,
annexes, ancillary accommodation buildings, outdoor kitchens and
leisure buildings. Written and updated regularly by Richard Grace
(updated 25/08/2016) We provide planning consultancy + full design
and build services direct to clients throughout UK.
Build spaces available October - Call us now to discuss your
Recently (April 2016) there was an attempt by George Osbourne
(now replaced of course) to change the tax rules relating to this
which was "almost" immediately withdrawn The best info about this is
This is our most visited web page. If you are considering
building something a bit more than a shed in your garden you need to
know about this subject. Over my 13 years in the business I must
have been involved in answering most if not all of your questions
coming from every corner of the UK. In the last 12 months alone
there have been 64,327 visitors to this page spending on average
more than 4.7 minutes. You are not alone! April 2016 was another
For sample plans and more information about how to
negotiate this minefield "yourself" email
firstname.lastname@example.org with a
brief overview of your proposed project / idea. I can answer
most specific questions by email.
Our full build projects and consultancy services are available
nationwide. A planning application service (if required) is
available including site survey, application management and full set
of drawings / specifications and costing's from £800.00. If full
Building Regulation compliance is required we can manage the whole
process from drawings and structural calculations to sign off and
In the News on Council Tax and Granny Annexe
Eric Pickles announced (A few years ago, but has not changed)
help families wishing to provide Granny Annexe accommodation.
The help is in the form of re-imbursing councils for loss of council
tax on new ancillary dwelling units. This cleared up the objections
councils had for this type of accommodation. You can see the
government announcement here.
Government statement on Granny annexes and family accommodation
The PD (Permitted Development) newest changes (see below) are
governed by law. This information is up to date. For info about
house extensions see: "Planning portal latest update - (class E
updated technical guidance The most recent changes further
streamlining the planning process came into force on 25 June last
My comments on recent changes:
It is interesting that these on-going changes have reinforced a
softening in the approach to accommodation for elderly relatives or
teenagers. It does however make it clear that additional
accommodation for rental "beds in sheds" is not included. (the key
word here is "ancillary" i.e. if your
proposal is family related and simply to provide more living space
that is fine).
Having studied all changes my conclusion remains that our
governments continue to recognise that families need to extend
without having to move home. This continues to be good news for
those wishing to develop their existing home and of course for small
builders. The introduction of a "neighbour consultation scheme"
makes a lot of sense. So once again the key word must be that a
garden development must be "ancillary" to the main property and
certainly so if it is to be used as additional living accommodation.
Previous News on Granny Annexes
Eric Pickles originally made his statement about making it easier
to obtain permissions to develop living annexes as part of your own
home. This was driven by the economic need to provide more housing.
The proposals represented a whole lot of common sense and were aimed
at benefitting families considering options and for elderly care. It
is now quite normal and has filtered down to the planning regime
which traditionally catches up slowly.
In any case the debate has ended and at least these changes
somewhat reflect the trend confirmed by enquiries and questions
received from readers of this page. There are a lot but we are
gearing up to handle demand.
Clarification regarding granny annexes in particular. I understand
there may be some confusion, but so long as they are still within
the size constraints of the garden out-buildings set out in Class E
of the GPDO, the use of the outbuilding as a granny-annex is not
relevant. The test is whether the use of the proposed outbuilding is
incidental to the use of the house. So long as it is an annexe (
i.e. essentially another room of your house), and not a separate
dwelling (or other use that might create a separate planning unit),
it is permitted development. Permitted development rights are
reduced by being in Conservation Areas only (i.e. article 1(5)
land); location within green belt is irrelevant.
The government does want planning to be easier as part of
their economic strategy.
This page concentrates on planning and building regulations for
detached back garden buildings of any type including garden studios
for living / Sleeping over.
Our own business is designing and building full projects. We also
provide Planning consultancy and advice to clients in the research
phase of a project.
Plans Garden Studios, Granny Annexes and Garden Accommodation
Searches and enquiries about accommodation buildings in
particular Granny Annexe type buildings are growing fastest. We have
prepared example plans for buildings of which provide full
accommodation facilities at project cost between £35,000 and £80,000
(depending on spec). If you would like to receive specific info
about process - send email me at
state brief description of your project. Editable plans, drawings
and documents are available for £150 each.
This document is written / updated and designed specifically to help
you interpret the planning rules governing developments in and
around your garden. To see the government paper and mini-guide
without our comments + other sources please follow the links in the
You are welcome to email with any questions
regarding planning or building regulations direct to
To read about running a business from home in a garden building
- legislation, taxation change of use etc. see the
Many people spend more than
15 minutes reading this page if you would like it in pdf format
. (ask for planning document in pdf)
About the permitted development rules 2008 (planning)
Planning rules remain ambiguous and subject to local interpretation
particularly in relation to size, eaves height and proximity to your
boundary. For buildings up to 30 sq. m planning permission is often
In some cases it is better to apply for
permission or obtain a "letter of conformity" - rather than take a
risk or accept a design simply to comply with an interpretation of
the "permitted development" rules. If you wish to make a planning
application or seek a letter of conformity we are able to assist.
The process has been made somewhat easier as all authorities accept
on-line applications through the planning portal which works well
(and recently passed more than 1.5 million applications). "Well
done guys this has saved an enormous amount of paper" in their
- "if stacked up would be more than four times higher than
the world's tallest building, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, or the
same height as seven Empire State Buildings with Canary Wharf on
As experienced users of the planning portal we can confirm it
works and helps.
Another note - probably the
By far the most important planning issue remains - "how your project
will effect your neighbours". You simply need to ask yourself is the
proposed new building and its intended use reasonable and does it
affect your neighbours enjoyment of their own property.
should consider carefully traffic patterns, noise and blockage of
light (ask yourself these questions) and then talk with your
neighbours. Put simply if you have a problem with planning
permission it is usually a neighbour issue. In every application
neighbours are consulted and it is the duty of planners to take this
into account. (makes sense! you have these rights about development
they wish to make and we all live in a democracy).
the 2008 Permitted Development rules (not changed) and how they
apply to buildings in your garden - Government statements in green
my comments follow in black and are regularly up to date.
How to use this sectionThe comments are written by
Richard Grace our Project Director, qualified by communications with
The current planning guidelines relating
to Garden Buildings issued by central government are shown in green
Nearly everyone is concerned about planning issues. We are in a good
position to advise (having discussed these issues in relation to
more than 2500 garden building projects throughout the uk with both
clients and planners).
We cannot take responsibility for any
dispute that may arise. If in doubt you should check with your local
planning authority and seek a letter of compliance for your project.
In any case we would advise against going ahead without planning
permission if your project was either in contravention of the rules
or clearly detrimental to your neighbours enjoyment of their
property. The retrospective route will still be open but can be
quite stressful.The rules with my comments: Very
Planning permission and Building Regulation
compliance are separate issues dealt with by different departments.
Planning covers positioning and design. Building regulations cover
safety and energy use. See list in Building Regulations section
Government Statement - Rules governing outbuildings apply
to sheds, greenhouses and garages as well as other ancillary garden
buildings such as swimming pools, ponds, sauna cabins, kennels,
enclosures (including tennis courts) and many other kinds of
structure for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling
We are interpreting this to include Garden Offices, Garden Studios,
Garden Rooms Leisure Buildings Granny Annexes etc. etc. Our thoughts
on the reason for the official statement not being so specific are
that the government has to leave space in the general guidelines for
Government Statement - Other rules relate to the installation
of a satellite dish, the erection of a new dwelling or the erection
or provision of fuel storage tanks.
This seems to be clear you cannot erect a new dwelling for separate
sale in your garden without planning permission. This certainly
prevents the division of your property and the sale of part of it
with dwelling house rights and without full planning permission. We
do know that Granny annexes and lodges (sleepover buildings) are
treated in a different way by planners in different parts of the
country. The key word is ancillary so always make it clear that your
development is "ancillary" to the use of the main property.
Government Statement - Under new regulations that came into
effect on 1st October 2008 outbuildings are considered to be
permitted development, not needing planning permission, subject to
the following limits and conditions: No outbuilding on land forward
of a wall forming the principal elevation.
Quite clear, if you take into account these guidelines you can
build in your side or back garden without applying for planning
permission. However you cannot build in your front garden without
planning consent. The definition in the guidelines here could be
expanded to mean closer to the highway at the front of your
property. Reason The local authority may need to change the highway.
Further to this interpretation our advice is that you should always
take into account the effect on your immediate neighbours of any
Government Statement - Outbuildings and garages to be single
storey with maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall
height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for
any other roof.
This is very confusing but here is our attempt to make sense of
it. You cannot build a two storey garden building without planning
permission. In the case of a conventional gabled roof the eaves
height should not be higher than 2.5m. The planning portal mini
guide shows the eaves height and final roof height are different by
the thickness of the roof e.g. it is ok to start the "barge boards"
at 2.5m and reasonably go over this to the total height say 2.7m to
accommodate insulation (makes sense). A hipped roof can have
different pitches on the ends and sides but the eaves should not
exceed 2.5m. The highest part of the roof should not exceed 4 metres
in any case.
In a sloping garden the maximum height
measurements are measured from the highest point of the land on
which the building stands. We have met situations where local
planners interpret this in a different manner however our experience
and written communications with government confirm our
interpretation to be correct.In 2013
designed a new roof system which complies and is not flat. A curved
roof developed by ourselves in conjunction with Tata-Steel this new
roof offers a real alternative to flat roof garden office with a
span up to 5.6m and height of 2.5m centre with 2190mm head height
internal a warm roof system 139mm thick including 100mm urethane
(kngspan type insulation) with 30 year no leak guarantee.
installation and photo detail available from
website in a few weeks at launch.
Government Statement - Maximum height of 2.5 metres in the case
of a building, enclosure or container within two metres of a
boundary of the curtilage of the dwelling house.
Any confusion now cleared up with newest explanation on portal
see (mini-guide link below) (examine point 8) If you build an
outbuilding closer than 2 metres to your boundary no part of it must
be higher than 2.5m. Planning permission will be necessary if so,
however where a taller building closer than 2 metres seems
reasonable to neighbouring properties there should be no reason for
refusal. There are many sites where it is better to apply for
Government Statement - No verandas, balconies or
Seems clear and makes sense in relation to balconies and raised
platforms. The building should not include balconies or raised
platforms because in many cases neighbours privacy would be
threatened by such structures. Where neighbour privacy would not be
threatened then we see no reason why planning permission or letter
of consent should not be given but it is best to check. With regard
to verandas the word of course can be used to describe a balcony or
raised platform it certainly does not mean you cannot have a roof
over a seating area at ground level.
Government Statement - No more than half the area of land around
the "original house"* would be covered by additions or other
Very clear and makes sense. Taking into account all of the land
except the footprint of the house you cannot cover more than 50%
with outbuildings. We have come across situations where this applies
but only in very small gardens.
Government Statement - To be permitted development, any new
building must not itself be separate, self contained, living
accommodation and must not have a microwave antenna.
Very clear regarding the microwave antenna and makes sense.
Regarding self contained living accommodation not so clear. Our
interpretation is that this is to prevent properties being used in a
way which would allow the bending of taxation rules. We are asked on
many occasions if it is ok to build an outbuilding in the garden
where our son, daughter or other family member can live. From a
technical standpoint the answer is yes of course. It would not
however be fair on existing neighbours to exploit this by building
multiple structures taking the property beyond the use "family
dwelling" for which planning permission was granted in the first
instance. So our view is that common sense must prevail until this
Government Statement - In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of
Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the maximum area
to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers and pools more
than 20 metres from house to be limited to 10 square metres.
Very clear and makes sense. You can't put up large structures
using permitted development rights in these designated areas if they
are more than 20 metres from the house.
Government Statement - On designated land* buildings,
enclosures, containers and pools at the side of properties will
require planning permission.
Very clear and makes sense. You cant put up structures using
permitted development rights at the side of your property in these
Government Statement - Within the curtilage of listed buildings
any outbuilding will require planning permission.
Totally clear if you live in a listed building then you have no
permitted development rights
Government Statement - *The term "original house" means the
house as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was
built before that date). Although you may not have built an
extension to the house, a previous owner may have done so.
*Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas
of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage
This means that in a conservation area you have no permitted
development rights. Please note: the permitted development
allowances described here apply to houses not flats, maisonettes or
This seems to be clear.
As previously stated Building Regulations are totally
separate from Planning issues however when considering
Garden Buildings the following Building regulations need to be taken
into account. (Key * = sometimes, ** always
- Part A Structure *
- Part B Fire Safety *
- Part C Site preparation and resistance to moisture
- Part D Toxic substances
- Part E Resistance to the passage of sound *
- Part F Ventilation
- Part G Hygiene *
- Part H Drainage and waste disposal *
- Part J Combustion appliances and fuel storage systems *
- Part K Protection from falling, collision and impact,
opening and cleaning
- Part L Conservation of fuel and power*
- Part M Access to and use of buildings *
- Part N Glazing
- Part P Electrical safety **
Here are my comments on the most important issues relating to
Garden Buildings and Structures: (Same format as planning section)
Government Statement (this statement has changed recently) - If
you want to put up small detached buildings such as a garden shed or
summerhouse in your garden, building regulations will not normally
apply if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square
If the floor area of the building is between 15
square metres and 30 square metres, you will not normally be
required to apply for building regulations approval providing that
the building, contains NO sleeping accommodation and is either at
least one metre from any boundary or it is constructed of
substantially non-combustible materials.
Still not that clear but here goes: This is almost certainly a
volume related statement and brings into play two things:
The Building Regulations in relation to the spread of fire "which
dates back to the fire of London in 1666". i.e. more volume = more
risk involving spread of fire to neighbouring properties. For
example you may wish to conserve garden space by building close to
your boundary, your neighbour may also do the same in which case
there would not be a sufficient gap between the two buildings. The
statement is not that clear but does make sense in that if the
building footprint is more than 15 square metres then the building
which has significant volume (over 15 square metres) must be at
least one metre from your boundary. Or - you must be able to
demonstrate it is constructed of substantially non-combustible
1. This is not a planning issue as we are already aware (see
above) the planning restriction in relation to boundary proximity is
that the height of the structure if nearer than two metres to the
boundary is restricted to 2.5 metres roof height - presumably to
ensure there will not be neighbour issues about restricting light.
2. The regulations exemption table see:
seems to be aiming towards energy conservation
in that buildings over 15 sqm but not more than 30 sq. m could
require energy saving measures (Part L) if the building is intended
for regular use. This seems to take some account of the fact that
many Garden Buildings are used as a Studio or office / place of
work. In most of these cases it makes sense to provide energy saving
3. Regarding the statement "contains NO
": This is just not clear - here is
4. This was originally the subject of
Housing Minister Grant Shapps so called "Beds in Sheds" review that
the Government don't want householders to rent out sheds as
accommodation. (Announced on the Planning Portal 3/05/2012 and still
no change). This seems perfectly understandable.
5. If the
building has a "bedroom" then it must be safe to protect against
fire and anything which is life threatening for people whilst asleep
(this is simply common sense). No legislation of any type exists to
stop anyone sleeping in your garden, in a tent, your garage or your
-- it does make sense to
ensure that any regularly used accommodation building is safe for
people whilst asleep. So my view is that is particularly bad wording
- there is no such thing as a clear definition of what is sleeping
accommodation. I have researched this and neither are there any
rules laws or guidelines regarding where a human being may fall
Let common sense prevail. We have noticed over recent
years a massive increase in enquiries for outbuildings with sleeping
accommodation driven by economics - I guess this is no surprise!
Throughout this document I have stressed and re-stated the
importance of not upsetting neighbours. Martin Goodall a
specialist-planning lawyer has written an interesting article this
subject. He talks about the current statements regarding the use of
outbuildings as a legal anomaly.
You can read his
Legal anomaly over the use of outbuildings
There is no definitive answer yet.
Other Important Issues about safety
Outside of this
specific statement there are some very important issues to consider
regarding garden buildings and building regulations in general:
1. Any electrical system in a garden or garden building should
and must comply with building regulations Part P and must be
installed by a competent / qualified person. see my blog post at
Garden Office and Studio Electrical Safety article
plumbing (toilets kitchenettes showers etc.) should be correctly
installed so as to operate hygienically in relation to waste
disposal. see my blog post at
Garden Studio and Office Plumbing article
3. Any Gas
appliance must be installed by a competent / qualified person
4. Any wood burning stove, fire or heater installation must
comply with building regulations and must be installed by a
competent person.Local knowledge
We have built
Garden Buildings, Garden Offices, Garden Studios, Garden, Rooms and
Garden Accommodation Buildings all over the UK. Here is a list:
Bedfordshire, Luton Berkshire Reading, Bracknell, Maidenhead,
Newbury, Wokingham, Buckinghamshire Aylesbury, High Wycombe
Cambridgeshire Cambridge, Wisbech, Cheshire Chester x 9, Stockport,
Sale, Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead, Wallasey, Runcorn, Macclesfield,
Crewe Cornwall None yet Cumberland Penrith, Keswick Derbyshire
Derby, Chesterfield, Buxton, Ashbourne Devon Barnstaple Dorset not
yet Durham not yet Essex Chelmsford x 2, Basildon, and 5 times in
Buckhurst Hill Gloucestershire Gloucester, Bristol, Cheltenham
Hampshire Winchester Hertfordshire Watford, St. Albans x3, Hemel
Hempstead, Stevenage, Huntingdonshire St. Ives, St. Neots, Kent
Maidstone, Canterbury, Bromley, Greenwich Merseyside Liverpool,
Lancashire Southport X 3 Manchester, Preston, Bolton, Warrington
Leicestershire Leicester, Lincolnshire Lincoln, Grimsby, Louth
Middlesex, London, x 11, Enfield x3, Staines, Ealing Norfolk
Norwich, Cromer, Hunstanton Northamptonshire Northampton, Kettering,
Wellingborough Northumberland None yet Nottinghamshire Mansfield,
Worksop, Newark, Oxfordshire Oxford, Banbury, Witney,
Henley-on-Thames, Thame Rutland one in the sticks Shropshire
Shrewsbury, Somerset Bath, Staffordshire Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent,
Suffolk Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds Surrey Guildford x 6 Croydon,
Woking, Sutton, Kingston-on-Thames, Wandsworth, Wimbledon x4 Sussex
Crawley, Warwickshire Warwick, Birmingham, Coventry,Rugby,
Stratford-upon-Avon Westmorland Windermere, Wiltshire Devizes
Worcestershire Evesham Yorkshire Beverley, Halifax, Harrogate,York
North Wales x 8, Wrexham Scotland x 1, South Wales x 4, Cardif.
Planning permission for Garden Studios,
Garden Offices and Insulated Garden Buildings - webmasters are free
Planning Permission and Permitted Development
written By Richard Grace Project Director Garden Structures Ltd
Bracken House CH4 6LB Tel 01244 679502 email
webmaster links - please use text (Garden
Building Planning and Building Regulations)
Consultancy and pre-planning advice services available
Services including planning advice, architectural drawings and
specifications, structural engineering / thermal efficiency
calculations, supplier selection and project management. If busy we
can recommend alternative sources.
You can ask your local authority for Pre-Planning-Advice directly
and speak to a planning officer, to get the best out of this. My
advice is to be completely prepared with drawings and proposals
having talked firstly with your neighbours. For a visit most
authorities make a charge of around £200 - £250. They cannot at the
pre-planning stage tell you if your project will succeed.
You can read "My amazing 3 hour visit to a London
Planning Office" here
http://www.gardenofficeproject.com/ (South West London area!!).
This is a blow by blow account of a difficult situation.
If you found this page useful or have comments please let me know
- Thanks - Richard - please send comments direct to
Phew - a lot of info here but I hope it helps clarify a few
things. - Richard
Planning permission and Building Regulations for Garden
Structures, Garden Offices Granny Annexes and Outdoor Kitchens