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Do you need planning permission for your shed?

by admin

A friend recently asked me for advice about his neighbour’s shed. When I say shed, I mean minature house in the back garden.  This building is red-brick, single storey with a pitched and tiled roof and double glazed.  You could live in there easily.  Well I could.

So I decided to refresh my memory of the Planning Law on this subject.  A quick google search led to the excellent national Planning Portal which not only sets out the rules in as clear a manner as possible but also has a 3-D demo!  It wasn’t like this when I studied Town and Country Planning I can tell you.



In brief, outbuildings are now (since October 2008) covered by permitted development rights – a type of planning classification which says that you have automatic planning permission without application subject to certain restrictions.

The main general restrictions are that the house is not listed and that you’re outside ‘Designated land’, which includes national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

So if you’re not in one of those, you qualify for permitted development rights.  The specific restrictions for an outbuilding (such as a shed, dog kennels, garage or study) are:

Does your shed need planning permission?

  • No outbuilding on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation. (that means not in front of the house).
  • 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.
  • 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 dwellinghouse (that means the boundary of the whole plot).
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms (where are we Australia? It’s too cold for a veranda anyway, surely!).
  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house” would be covered by additions or other buildings.

You can see the visual demonstration of the rules by clicking here.

Unfortunately for my friend, his neighbour’s ‘outhouse’ was within the height, area and location requirements and so qualified for permitted development and so can be deemed to have planning permission.  If you’re planning to build an outhouse an are still unsure of the rules, don’t be afraid to phone up your local council planning department and ask for advice – after all they’re there to help you.

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8 Responses to “Do you need planning permission for your shed?”

  1. paul says:

    i think this only applies if the original house as not already been extended. If the original house has been extended then the permitted right has been used.

  2. Lisa says:

    We are thinking of putting a 12×12 shed at the front of our property for storage, we have a very large open front area which is not over looked by anyone as it is surrounded by large trees, is this ok?

  3. admin says:

    Hi Lisa, According to the rules above and the info you provide, no – as it would be in front of the house and so you would need planning permission.

    For more detailed online professional advice we recommend http://www.planning-applications.co.uk run by our contributor Ian Butter BSc (Hons) FRICS MRTPI

  4. Ian says:

    I am building a timber shed that will be sitting on bricks on a concrete base. I have build the frame and realised that the height from the concrete to apex will be nearly ~2.7M, and it will be within a metre of the neighbours’ fences. My question is what is “Ground level”. It varies considerably in our garden, and the concrete base is lower than most of the rest of the garden, effectively in a hole. Secondly, would the extra height really be a problem? If needs be, I can undo what I have done and have less of a slope on the roof to ensure it is within the required height, but would prefer not to.

  5. admin says:

    Hi Ian,

    (this advice is given free and without liability and we have to say we recommend you get your own independant, qualified advice, but here goes…)
    —————————————
    Article 1(3) of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development Order) 1995 states that:

    Unless the context otherwise requires, any reference in this Order to the height of a building or of plant or machinery shall be construed as a reference to its height when measured from ground level; and for the purposes of this paragraph “ground level” means the level of the surface of the ground immediately adjacent to the building or plant or machinery in question or, where the level of the surface of the ground on which it is situated or is to be situated is not uniform, the level of the highest part of the surface of the ground adjacent to it.
    ———————————–

    Therefore the height of the shed would be measured from the highest ground level adjacent to it. If the height of the shed exceeds 2.5 metres above ground level then planning permission will be required. At this stage it will be assessed whether or not the height of the shed is a problem (amongst other considerations).

  6. Wendy says:

    My neighbour has just put up a childs play shed which is two storeys high, it is also sitting onto of decking and is right next to the fence that separates our garden. We want to sell our house and fear this will put potential buyers off, do we have any leg to stand on if we get this investigated or is it tough luck?

  7. Simon says:

    Can you advise if this is the same legislation which governs outbuildings built on a slope?

    i.e. Slope excavated to provide flat stable base. (some 5 tonnes of earth removed). 2 foot lower at one end to the next adjacent ground. Building is 2.4m at edge closest to boundary (but within 2M). 2.6 at edge furthest from boundary. But all < 2.5 M measure from highest adjacent land.

    Please advise.Thks.

  8. LIONEL says:

    Any view on legislation that applies to a shed that is closer than 600mm from a boundary at which point it measures 2.83M high measured above immediately adjacent ground level but being built on sloping site (upwards from boundary) is only just above permitted height at its furthest distance from boundary, approx. 4M?

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