Planning Issues

Do I need to apply for Planning Permission?

After a recent conversation with our local council planning department, we find it difficult to arrive at the same conclusion as some companies that claim that you do not need planning permission for garden buildings – even after the ‘relaxing’ of the rules in 2008.

Your local council is the only authority in a position to permit development, and are the only body that can say if you need planning permission for a timber building (or any structure) on your property.

Restrictions or specific rules (covenants) in the title of your property may also be something else to look out for. You may have to seek someone else’s agreement before carrying out any work on your property.

Often confused, planning permission and building regulations are two separate sets of rules.

A photo of a man drawing a plan for a timber building

Planning Permission

The planning regulations define outbuildings as: 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 dwellinghouse.

Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development, not needing planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:

*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.

Building Regulations

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 is either at least one metre from any boundary or it is constructed of substantially non-combustible materials.

In both cases, building regulations do not apply ONLY if the building does not contain any sleeping


We provide this information ‘in good faith’, and is by no means an exhaustive study of the rules, our aim is just to help steer you in the right direction. Questions regarding specific situations or applications should be addressed to your local authority.

For a more in depth study of the building rules and planning issues, the Communities and Local Government web site covers it all in infinite detail. There is lots more information available at also.

Your local council web site is also a good source of information; many booklets and forms are available for download. The booklets are also usually available at your local Council office.

There is also some useful information at the planning portal web site