Do I need planning permission to build a shed?

Whether or not you need planning permission for a new shed, summer house or carport / garage on your property depends on various factors, although you can rest assured that in most cases it isn’t necessary. For a quick rundown of the details that affect whether you need planning permission, read on.

What sort of garden buildings don’t require planning permission?

Updates to planning permission rules in recent years have made it much easier to build sheds and similar structures on your property without needing to get caught up in regulations. Since 2008, buildings like sheds have been covered by ‘permitted development rights’, which means that if you follow certain rules, you have automatic planning permission without having to apply for it.

As long as your garden building meets the following requirements, no permission should be necessary:

  • If it’s a building for storage or a hobby – like woodwork or playing an instrument, so the rest of your family don’t have to listen to you practicing for hours while you try to perfect your technique! – then you don’t need permission. If the building is going to be used as a self-contained domestic living space – with a bedroom, bathroom or kitchen – then you do need to apply for planning permission.
  • It has to be freestanding ie detached from your house. If it’s attached, it counts as an extension and planning permission is required.
  • The garden building must occupy less than 50% of the total area of your property.
  • The total floor area should not exceed 15m2. In Conservation Areas or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this is reduced to 10m2.
  • The building must be single storey. The eaves should not extend higher than 2.5 metres and the total building height shouldn’t exceed 3 metres. However, if the shed has a duel-pitched roof, the total height of the building can be up to 4 metres.
  • If the building is within 2 metres of the boundary of your property, it cannot be higher than 2.5 metres.
  • Any decking must be no higher than 30cm from ground level. Balconies and verandas are a no no, unless you seek permission.
  • It cannot be located in front of your house.

If you plan on installing sleeping accommodation or a shower or toilet in the building, then planning permission probably will be needed. Similarly, if you plan on running a home business from the building, planning permission will most likely need to be sought.

Do different rules apply depending on the materials I plan on using?

Generally speaking, no. If you abide by the rules above, whether your garden building is going to be made of bricks, plastic or wood, you probably don’t need to apply for planning permission.

Are there any other special circumstances that might affect planning permission for a garden building?

Yes, a few. If you…

  • live in a listed building
  • live in a World Heritage site, National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Conservation Area or the Broads
  • Plan on locating the building in woodland not attached to your property
  • Live in Scotland or Ireland, where different rules apply

…then planning permission will need to be sought.

Can I keep animals or livestock in my shed?

Yes, as long as you’re keeping the pets or livestock – including poultry and bees – for the domestic use and enjoyment of the residents of the property, it shouldn’t be an issue.

What could happen if I get it wrong and don’t seek permission when I should have?

A word of warning: if you put up your building and the planning department determines that you did need planning permission after all, they can demand that you take the building down again. If you’re feeling uncertain whether your plans are covered by the planning permission rules or not, it’s best to get in touch with your local council and talk to them about it before going any further.

Please note that the handy tips in this article do not constitute legal advice, and all planning permission decisions are dependent on local authorities. You can contact your local council for more information.

To discuss your project in more detail don’t hesitate to follow the link below where you will be able to find local experts in your area who have been accredited by the Guild of Master Craftsmen.