Planning Permission for Timber Garden Buildings

Ensure Your Garden Room is Permitted

Planning Permission for Timber Garden Buildings

When you are contemplating the addition of a garden building, one of the first questions that will cross your mind will be what garden room planning rules might apply to the project. It will probably come as no surprise to hear that the short answer is “it depends.”

What’s more, it depends on several factors. These include the size and dimensions of the proposed construction, the available space in your garden, whether you already have extensions or separate buildings, and the proposed location of the garden building in relation to the house, the public highway and the neighbours. On top of that, there is the question of whether you live in an area that has specific or special planning rules, such as a national park or a conservation zone.

There is good news if all that has got your head in a spin. Yes, planning rules can be complicated, but in most cases, garden room planning permission is not required, as the construction usually falls under what is known as permitted development. But even if consent is needed, it doesn’t have to be a nightmare, and we can help you negotiate the necessary regulatory hurdles.

Permitted Development

If you are among the happy majority, your project will fall within the category of garden building permitted development. This means that planning permission is not needed, and in all likelihood, you don’t need to worry about building regulations either – but we will consider that in more detail a little later. There are several points to check regarding permitted development.

  • Incidental purpose – garden room permitted development only applies if the structure is for a purpose that is “incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling.” In plain English, that means you can’t construct under permitted development if the outbuilding is to be a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen or the like. However, a garden room, home office or games room would fit the “incidental purpose” criterion.
  • Curtilage – the total area of all outbuildings, extensions and sheds must not exceed 50 percent of the curtilage – the land around your house. Note that this includes extensions and buildings already in place but did not form part of the original house as it stood when first built or as it was in 1948 if it was built before then.
  • Height – to construct under permitted development, the construction must be single storey. If it is to be positioned less than 2m from the boundary, the maximum permitted roof height is 2.5m. If it is positioned more than 2m from the boundary, the maximum permitted eave height is 2.5m, and the total roof height can be as much as 4m for a dual-pitched roof.
  • Position – again, what at first looks complex can be summed up very easily. The rule states that no part of the building may lie forward of the principle elevation. It simply means that if you draw a line from one side of your property to the other, level with the front wall of the house, no part of the garden building can lie in front of it. In other words, it must be no closer to the public highway than the “original front” of the house. If you live in a conservation zone, the “no-build” zone extends to the house's sides, so essentially, you need to draw your line level with the rear elevation and stay behind that instead.

Conservation Zones, AONBs and National Parks

As the point about position indicated, the general rules related to garden room permitted development are stricter if you live in a conservation zone, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or a national park. In each of these cases, you still have permitted development rights, but they are a little stricter than standard.

In general, buildings must, as mentioned above, be entirely rearward of the rear elevation. Also, if the building is more than 20 metres from the house, the maximum permitted area it can occupy is 10 square metres. These are general rules for properties in these special zones. However, if you are lucky enough to live in a national park, a conservation zone or an AONB, we would always advise double-checking with your local planning office, just in case, there are specific local regulations in place. They are invariably happy to help.

Listed Buildings

It’s a privilege to live in a listed building, but there are sometimes downsides. One of them is that there are no permitted development rights. So, in this case, you would need planning permission for a garden room, regardless of its size, shape, location or intended use. However, as we will soon see, that’s not necessarily a problem, as you will not be seeking permission to make any changes to the building itself.

Garden Building Regulations

The dreaded “building regs” usually go hand in hand with planning applications. Building regulations are concerned with aspects of design, structure, insulation and build quality. If you’ve ever had an extension built, you’ll know that you have to get a building inspector in, possibly two or three times, to sign off on each stage.

As with planning permission, we have broadly good news for you in that respect. Building regulations do not usually apply to garden rooms, outbuildings and so on, provided that they meet the following criteria:

  • No larger than 15 square metres in area
  • No sleeping accommodation
  • Not attached to your house

Under these circumstances, summer house building regulations do not apply to the construction itself, so it will not have to be reviewed and approved by your local building inspector. There is one important caveat here, though. You’ll most likely have a separate electricity consumer unit installed for your new garden room. That’s fine and is the safest and most efficient way to get power there. However, just be aware that any new installation must be signed off by a registered professional and a safety certificate issued. Also, make sure you store it somewhere safe, as it’s the sort of thing a conveyancing solicitor will ask for if you ever decide to sell the property.

Planning Permission

As you can see, permitted development rights mean that for most householders, garden room or summer house planning permission is not something they need to worry about. However, it is sometimes the case that permitted development conditions cannot be met. Perhaps your house has already been extended several times so the garden building takes the total area beyond the curtilage limit, or maybe it’s just the case that you live in a conservation zone where the permitted development rights are too restrictive.

It’s really not the end of the world if so. Obtaining house planning permission isn’t usually difficult, and a timber summer house that blends in with its surroundings is not likely to get the neighbours up in arms. At Lomax + Wood Garden Rooms, we are accustomed to drawing up the necessary plans and elevations that will be needed, so there’s no reason to let planning rules spoil your intentions for the garden room you’ve been dreaming of.

Contact Us

If you’d like to pick our brains on any of the above, or you’d like to find out more about any of our products and services, we’re only an email or a phone call away. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch for an informal chat.

  • Frequently Asked Questions

How Large Can A Building be Without Planning Permission?

The guidance states that the building should not exceed 50% of the land around the original house.

How Close to The Boundary Can I Build My Summer House?

If the building is at a maximum of 2.5m, it can be within 2m, not forgetting access for maintenance and ensuring your roof does not overhang the boundary. However, if the building is between 15m2 and 30m2, it should be at least 1m away from the perimeter to avoid planning permission.

Can I Build Without Planning Permission?

Yes, if you adhere to permitted development rules.

What is The 4-Year Rule on Planning Permission?

Under the Town and Planning Act, if a building is erected without necessary planning permission and no public complaint is made within 4 years, an application for lawful development can be made.

What Happens if a Summer House Has Been Built Without Planning Permission?

If it has been built under permitted development rules planning permission is not required. If it breaks the permitted development rules and the local authority takes action within 4 years, they may seek to issue an enforcement notice to rectify the planning breach.

How Long Can Planning Permission Take For A Garden Room, If Required?

Planning, on average, is concluded within an eight-week time frame unless there are unusual circumstances which extend the time to 13 weeks.

Please note that all information provided herein regarding planning permission is for guidance only.

You need to check with your local PLA as rules vary within the UK. In addition, exact details need to be reviewed and understood in the full context of the situation.