Design and Planning Permission advice for Garden Structures of all types / UK Specialist for Granny Annexes.

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Ancillary Accommodation Buildings (updated 10/04/2018)


The market for building Granny annexes and additional accommodation has matured – There are now more than 40 specialist companies in UK who are competing for build contracts. All have the same question asked of them by potential clients.

The subject of "Planning Permission" for additional accommodation is unclear. Here is my own view:

Our grannies need looking after and our kids coming back from "uni" with enormous debt need their own space to get going in their carreers.

Over the last 10+ years I have been dealing with an increasing flow of enquiries and visits to my own planning permission page (link in site menu above) it contains the most comprehensive and up to date information on this subject.

Most questions are almost exclusively from genuine family people who are all facing the same problem. How to provide support for elderly relatives and youngsters regarding accommodation? The two main questions are often the same.

1. Do I need planning permission to do this?

2. What about Council Tax?

The planning rules overall are reasonably clear. However ONE thing seems to be “not as clear as it should be” it is the subject of “kitchens” and so called “sleeping accommodation”. In short - is the new building separate living accommodation ?

Here is the statement:

From Class E of GPDO (General Permitted Development Order) section b) "A purpose incidental to a house would not, however, cover normal residential uses, such as separate self-contained accommodation nor the use of an outbuilding for primary living accommodation such as a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen".

This is very confusing indeed and provides a block for many. It is a “legal anomaly” and interpreted differently by different local authorities. In order to be understood, the precise definitions of both “kitchens” and “sleeping accommodation / living accommodation” need to be formally established and totally clarified. Of course there can be no such thing. (???) A camp-bed and a kettle? Or this or this or that!?:

Adding sleeping and eating space     

It took me 35 seconds to find each image (guess where!). Therefore it is a "misleading statement" that remains in the documentation - (Schedule E of the GPDO) + various printed handouts given by local planning departments. It has no meaning "whatsoever". And in any case who can define it!

This problem is simple. It is that the councils do not want these buildings to be rented, which is totaly understandable. They want more council tax again totaly understandable. They need to collect it from "cheats" who want to build for rental. Not families looking after their youngsters and grannies." 

The thing that matters most is that any new development is "reasonable" regarding its effect on neighbours and is “incidental” to the use of the main property. It needs to be safe and comfortable of course. Building in the garden for renting out / generation of extra income is clearly not included and of course should not be (why -  because this is creating a separate unit from the household). But looking after family is clearly "ancillary to the main property".

Successive governments have either struggled or neglected to make this clear. As a result of this a lot of time is wasted and a lot of opportunities to help family members are lost.

You have these choices:

  1. Go ahead and apply for all necessary permissions (whatever your local authority ask for).
  2. Go ahead under existing permitted development rules.
  3. Call the planning office and gain approval for your proposal.
  4. Get me to make this call for you.

In any case it remains my own advice to ensure that NO neighbours will be detrimentally affected by any new garden development.

I have written on 27/07/2017 to our Government asking for clarification about this. Here is my communication now answered but still unclear. I have response and it has gone to another stage - 10/11/2017

From Class E of GPDO (General Permitted Development Order) section b)

"A purpose incidental to a house would not, however, cover normal residential uses, such as separate self-contained accommodation nor the use of an outbuilding for primary living accommodation such as a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen".

Could you please answer directly to me - Does this mean that a family member i.e. Granny could not sleep or eat in a properly constructed and totally safe "ancillary" garden building which meets Permitted Development rules and is OK with the neighbours.

Our planning authorities treat this in a different way in different areas - why is this?

I act as a consultant for clients who wish to build additional "ancillary" accommodation for granny or their children returning from university (the main reasons).

Richard Grace - website with my contact detail is at


I have recieved this reply: + filled out the form establishing the above question as in progress with (DCLG) 29/07/17

Your query has been passed on to the team at the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) who manage this material. They will investigate and respond to you directly (unfortunately we can not give an estimate time on when you will receive a response).

In the meantime your original query with GOV.UK will now be closed.

Alternatively, if you would like to contact them directly, you can at the below link:

Update: 09/08/2017 my request is now being dealt with at government level. (I have asked for a change in wording to clarify this policy. - will update as and when I have it).

Update: 11/08/2017

I have a reply: (but not yet good enough)

Dear Richard

Thank you for your emails.  I am sorry I have not been able to reply sooner and I am afraid there is little I can add to my previous reply.

It is for local planning authorities to interpret  the regulations set out in the out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015,  and determine whether the development of a building within the curtilage of a house is permitted development considering circumstances of the  individual case. 

There are no plans to amend the regulations.


So there we have it (so far) I have asked for clarification on what this means by email today 11/08/2017. I think it means that you can build a granny annexe for family reasons within permitted development rules but you should check this with your local authority, just to be sure.  It seems to be dependant on where you live. Personally I don't think this is good enough. - Why because if the local authority say that you must apply formally for planning permission. 1. the cost of application is significant. 2. The time taken to complete this process is too disruputive. (So - I am continuing in order to seek clarification.) 07/12/2017 - In the mean- time I will continue to make calls to local authorities on your behalf without any charge. None of my calls have "ever" recieved a NO.

Important update 15/10/2017 - I have a letter from the house of commons informing me that the question is being dealt with now by the relevant department (fingers crossed!!)


I have update now and need time to answer - will update in the new year 10/11/2017 - Anyone directly involved can contact me direct and I will send copy of letter I have from Sajid Javid - (he is a very busy guy and I need time to consider my response carefully). It is now 09/04/2018 and still no response. BUT still many questions from householders!


Important Notes: 1. Building Regulations are a completely separate subject from this and are very straightforward in comparison. 2. There are local authorities that exploit this policy to maximise their income from Council Tax. (or they themselves simply don't know)


"How's that for confidence"  

Researched and written 27/07/2017 + updated by Richard Grace 09/04/2018 "Spring is here!"


Our 15th Year - Design, Garden Planning Permission and Project Management Specialists for Granny Annexes + All Garden Buildings and Outdoor-Kitchens. Now is not the time for building in gardens .

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