Welcome to - Garden Structure Experts

About - Planning Permission and Building Regulations for Garden Studios, Garden Rooms, Outdoor Kitchens, Granny Annexes and Accommodation Buildings for family use.

Will planning permission be required to build extra living space in your garden?

Welcome (you found us!) - there is a lot of information on this page. This is my 14th year in this business. You arrived here for a reason. I know the answers to your questions. If you need a quick response  I can reply by email (usually within 2 days): email -  richard@aarco.co.uk - Note: Accommodation buildings in gardens are in BIG demand due to current economic circumstances. We are designers, and project advisors for complete garden building projects. I offer a great value fixed price paid consultancy service for all Planning and Building Regulation compliance if required.

Everyone who comes here needs to know answers to their questions about this subject first. To create extra comfortable space is "easy", every garden building case is different. To create "comfortable" extra living space costs £1200 - £1800 per sq metre. Without plumbing the costs are less. You found us - all the answers you need are here! A summary followed by every detail. If you would like this complete document in pdf email richard@aarco.co.uk

   Curved PD compliant roof   Orchard Cottage Granny Annexe Garden Accommodation Building

First a short answer to your question - "Do I need planning permission for my Garden Building project or Annexe and what about Building Regulations?"

"It is VITAL to understand that Building Regulations and Planning Permission are two completely separate subjects". I cannot emphasise this enough so here it is again - Don't confuse planning permission and building regulations.
If you want to build a garden structure with a footprint of 30 square metres or under, the only mandatory Building Regulation that applies is electrical safety "Part P".  A qualified electrician must sign off for electrical safety (that's all). I often do this sign off myself, if all is installed correctly test and sign off is quick and easy. You get a certificate which is sometimes necessary for insurance purposes.

For the "do I need planning permission" question you will need to understand the restrictions associated with "Permitted Development" (height and proximity to your boundary etc.) ALL the detail you need is here. Summary and lots of detail including my own comments and advice.

First advice is simple stuff - "always make sure that your proposal is neighbour friendly, because if not you will find the whole process unnecessarily stressful".

Annexe for granny latest Garden Studio

Above -  a couple of buildings which meet permitted development rules - on the left low pitch roof full living annexe and on the right - A Garden Studio with curved roof - both are high spec... -  (Both meet PD rules and neither required Building Regulation applications). We have recently completed a Granny Annexe of 30 sq. metres by converting and extending an existing garage to become additional living accommodation - again within PD rules. You can now choose to read all of the information below. Or ask me specific questions by email direct at  richard@aarco.co.uk .

Here starts the "Detailed Information" (All of it) maybe 5 minutes required - or email me for pdf version.

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 26/02/2017) We provide planning consultancy + full design services direct to clients throughout UK. This includes any application submissions plans and drawings etc. that may be required by your local Planning Office.

Recently (in the last parliament) there was an attempt by George Osbourne to change the tax rules relating to accommodation buildings and council tax. This was "almost" immediately withdrawn thanks to the Telegraph newspaper and further intervention by Eric Pickles.

<NEW - for more info on telegraph debate available see below: 18/02>

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 all about this subject. Over my 14 years in the business I must have been involved in answering most if not all of your questions (a new one cropped  up today) coming from everywhere in the UK. In the last 12 months alone there have been 65,120 visitors to this page spending on average more than 3.8 minutes. You are not alone! May 2016 was the record month so far!

For sample plans and more information about how to negotiate this minefield "yourself". email richard@aarco.co.uk with a brief overview of your proposed project / idea. I answer  most specific questions by email.

Our own project management services and planning consultancy services are available nationwide. The planning application service (if required) includes - site survey, application management including full set of drawings / specifications. Our charge for this service is typically £800.00. If Building Regulation compliance is required we can manage the whole process from drawings and structural calculations to sign off and certification - the total cost is typically £2-3K.

In the News on Council Tax and Granny Annexe Planning

Eric Pickles announced (A few years ago, but has not changed) help for families wishing to provide Granny Annexe accommodation. This help is in the form of re-imbursing councils for loss of council tax on new ancillary dwelling units. This has 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 applies) - updated technical guidance The most recent changes further streamlining the planning process came into force on 25 June last year.

My comments on the most 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 to provide more family living space that is fine - renting for income is different). It's today 06/02/2017 that a case of this has emerged. An individual who rented an annexe now in his 5th year of occupation has contacted me - he has recieved a council tax bill for £5500 and his landlord has only offered hin half the payment! This point of law is not easy enough to find and now a reputable individual is in BIG trouble. The law is not clear and now we can see it needs to be much much clearer.
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.

More / 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 for offspring 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 is where it is and all recent changes reflect the trend confirmed by our own enquiries and questions received from readers of this page. There are a lot!

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.

Our  government wants planning to be easier as part of their economic strategy. This page concentrates only on planning and building regulations for detached back garden buildings of any type including garden studios for living / Sleeping over. Our own business is consulting, designing and project managing full installations. We also provide Planning application services consultancy and advice to clients in the research phase of their project.
Plans Garden Studios, Granny Annexes and Garden Accommodation Buildings

Searches and enquiries about accommodation buildings in particular Granny Annexe, additional family living space buildings are growing fastest. We have prepared example plans for buildings of which provide full accommodation facilities at project cost between £28,000 and £60,000 (depending on spec / size). If you would like to receive specific info about design and process - send email to me at richard@aarco.co.uk Including a brief description of your project (purpose and envisaged facilities).

Editable plans, drawings and  documents are available for £150 each. (saves time and cost in starting from scratch) - Please send house number and postcode + brief description for initial advice.

This document is written / updated regularly specifically to help you interpret the planning and building regulation 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 side bar.

To read about running a business from home in a garden building - legislation, taxation change of use etc. see  the Running-a-Business-at-Home link.

If you would like this document in pdf format please email richard@aarco.co.uk. (ask for planning document in pdf)

About the permitted development rules 2008 (planning)

Planning rules remain somewhat ambiguous / 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 not normally required.

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 words):

    "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 top"

As experienced users of the planning portal we can confirm it works and helps.


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 furthermore "does it affect your neighbours enjoyment of their own property".

You 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. This makes sense! You have these rights to develop in your garden and the planners wish to make it easy.

Here below are ALL the 2008 Permitted Development rules (not changed) with mt explanation of how they apply to buildings in your garden - Government statements in grey my own comments in black.

How to use this section

The comments are written by Richard Grace (me), and qualified by communications with planners nationwide.

The current planning guidelines relating to Garden Buildings issued by central government are shown in grey colour like this!

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).
Note / Disclaimer:
We cannot take responsibility for any dispute that may arise. If in doubt you should check yourself with your local planning authority and if necessary 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. There is a  retrospective route but this can be quite stressfull.

Here are the rules with my comments:

Sorry to repeat myself but - I am simply re-stating.

"Planning permission and Building Regulation compliance are separate issues" Both are dealt with by different government departments. Planning covers positioning and design. Building regulations cover safety and energy use. See list in Building Regulations section below:
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 house.

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 local interpretation.
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 development.
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 we 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 richard@aarco.co.uk more on 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 permission.
Government Statement - No verandas, balconies or raised platforms.

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 buildings.

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 becomes clearer.
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 designated areas.
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 Sites.

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 other buildings.

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 metres.

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:

1. 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 materials.


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: Exemption Table 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 insulation.

3. Regarding the statement "contains NO sleeping accommodation": This is just not clear - here is my interpretation:

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 shed.

However -- 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 asleep.

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 contribution here Legal anomaly over the use of outbuildings (the eleventh commandment)

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

2. Any 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. Pembroke

Planning permission for Garden Studios, Garden Offices and Insulated Garden Buildings - webmasters are free to link.

Planning Permission and Permitted Development written By Richard Grace Project Director Garden Structures Bracken House CH4 6LB Tel 01244 679502 email richard@arco.co.uk

webmaster links - please use text (Garden Building Planning and Building Regulations)

Consultancy and pre-planning advice services available from us

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" Check out my blog post at My Battle with Planners - South London This is a blow by blow account of a very difficult situation.

If you found this page useful or have comments please let me know - Thanks - Richard - please send comments direct to richard@aarco.co.uk

Phew - a lot of info here but I hope it helps clarify a few things which are a bit "muddy". -

There is - very new news here with my comments @

telegraph.co.uk   <--- link to telegraph debate regarding planning permission for accommodation buildings in gardens. Debate started Feb 2017.

The Lady in the Lodge: soaring property prices drive rise in ‘posh’ lodges at the bottom of gardens, experts say

My comments:

I have read this thread with interest. For years I have studied this market / spoken to many hundreds of people looking for garden accommodation for a solution to family situations.
+  Designed and built many such projects.

The law still needs to be clarified in this way with regards to permanent additional detached living accommodation in gardens: (living annexes / ancillary accommodation buildings).

  1. The permitted development rules need to be revised, clarified and simplified in respect of additional accommodation buildings in gardens. As any new legislation always takes time an interim guidance statement is needed urgently. (Simply because the demand rises and the current law is NOT clear)
  2. The taxation rules need to be made totally clear now and of course again following new legislation. This is much easier of course.
  3. The installation of temporary structures is far clearer and requires no comment from myself.
  4. The Building regulations rules are separate and totally clear i.e. no problems at all here. If a detached garden building is over 30 sq metres in footprint then regulations apply in full.

Final note:

Further to this – a neighbour consultation scheme should be introduced. In any case where an accommodation building is to be built the immediate neighbours should be contacted, shown a good quality drawing and given information regarding the proposed use.

Noise and traffic are always a concern and it should be clear that such development is not for rental and generation of income, unless of course the building is specifically for this purpose. I have never advised anything other than the above, which I believe, is simple common sense.

email -   richardgrace1@gmail.com