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Do I Need Planning Permission to Work from Home?

by Ian Butter

In this series of articles, planning expert Ian Butter answers some of the most commonly asked planning questions.  This week concerning home working – with more and more of us working from home or starting home businesses –  when does a building with residential use cross the line to business use?

Q. Do I Need Planning Permission to Work from Home?

A. Not necessarily.

If you answer ‘yes’ to any of the following, then planning permission will probably be needed:

1.  Will your home no longer be used primarily as a private residence?

2.  Will your business result in a noticeable rise in traffic or people visiting the home?

3.  Will your business involve any activities not normally to be found in a residential area?

4.  Will your business disturb your neighbours at unreasonable hours or create other forms of nuisance such as noise or smells?

Working from the kitchen table or spare bedroom shouldn’t normally require consent, but convert the lounge or garage to an office and you may be edging toward problems.

The Council’s enforcement officer will become particularly interested if you carry out un-neighbourly activities. For example, pick-ups and drop-offs of products, or employing staff who work from the property, may cause parking or disturbance problems. Regular visits by members of the public or direct sales from the premises really will be tempting fate.

In essence, working from home means just that. When your home becomes a workplace first, home second, then the balance of probability will be that a change of use has taken place.

You can apply to your council for a Certificate of Lawful Use for the proposed activity to be certain that you’re working-from-home activities are not a change of use. Be careful also in sensitive areas such as Conservation Areas or in Listed Buildings.

Even if planning permission is not required, Building Regulation and/or Listed Building approval might be.

For further advice go to

Ian P Butter BSc (Hons) FRICS MRTPI is a professionally qualified Chartered Surveyor and Town Planner and has worked in the rural sector for over 30 years.  Ian runs an online planning aid service at (now in its tenth year) where he regularly provides answers to a wide range of planning issues.


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One response to “Do I Need Planning Permission to Work from Home?”

  1. It’s always worth checking in with your local council authority with regards to planning permissions and the rules and regulations.

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