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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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23 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 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?

  9. George B says:

    This is a good article and Q&A but there are a couple of things unclear in all the guidelines I have seen – can anyone clarify on:

    1) are eves measured upto the finished underside of the eves, ie where plastic guttering sits? or the surface of the roof where it meets the wall. Big difference conflicted in guidelines which state lowest point and surface.

    2) if you have built on a concrete base that sits 6inchs above the ground (due to unevan ground) can you then level up the surrounding ground soil to loose the foundation height – hence giving you a new ground to measure the 2.5m upto the eves? If not is the foundation height included or excluded in measuring up?

    3) If building more than 2m away from boundaries and 4m high you can have a 30sqm building. But the eves/roof will overhang the building – so if the walls are withing the 2m limit but the roof overhangs the limit is this a problem?

    Thank you!

  10. Ardan says:


    I have a simialr problem only my in very close to boundary and is 2.9 mtres if I measure total high. We haven’t finished the groundwork around the building yet and was wondering if it was worth bringing the ground up higher and including small patio or decking to ensure the height then is not more that 2.5 metres, yes it has a flat felt roof.

  11. john says:

    Do I need planning permission for a 12′ x 20′ metal framed shed less than 7’high not near a boundary and surrounded by a wood offset from the house and outside of the curtigae

  12. teddy says:

    If you landscaped your garden imported x ammount of soil which effectively then raised the ground level you could exeed that which would apply to neighbours. Builders raised the soil level next to my house by building a two foot boundary wall which was then infilled to level off the garden they then installed a legal limit six foot fence which meant I then had an eight foot fence at the lower end and six six at the house end, new neighboures then erected two new sheds which stand nine foot high when viewed from my property, complaints were overuled by the building authorities as they deemed the builder to be within legal building requirements. It,s not what you know its who you know, if your neighbours do not complain and its out of the publics eye then your on a winner!

  13. Mindyourown says:

    Its because of people like you and your friend that these new laws where introduced.

    To put it politely, what other people do on thier own property is no longer and of ‘your’ business. Curtain twitching busy bodies who (in the the past) added expense and heart ache to simple alterations.

    I find it hilarious that you say its ‘unfortunate’ for your friend that the garage is permitted. Unfortunate why? because the boring old curtain twitcher cant get it knocked down out of spite?

  14. Amanda says:

    My neighbour has put a shed down the front end of the back garden it’s about 3 ft higher than my fence and is all I can see out of my patio Windows when I’m sitting on my sofa. Is this legal?

  15. Simon says:

    I have a Garidge plot in a Garidge on block situated at the rear of my house and would like to add to the block by building my own Garidge do I need to get planning as that’s why it’s there
    Some 40 years it’s just a base to go from so do I need planning for it ? Thanks

  16. Olga says:


    We would like to build fairy big Shed at teh very back of our garden, 7*10meters, it will not be even one third of our garden.
    I just wondered if its legal to have it a meter from out back garden fence and then only 30 centemeters from our right and left fence?
    The high will be 3 meters as it will be nearly flat roof.
    Thanks for an advice

  17. ray says:

    To olga this would not be permitted under the rules within 2.5m of boundary fence height must be 2.5m or under to eaves.
    So your max permitted height is 2.5m without planning permission

  18. Reni says:


    Just quick question,i have a ground flore maisionet and my neyghbours are building large shed in front of my garden.It is about a 50cm/1m from my fence and about 3,5/4m long. It is reducing day light and his shed is very very close, the roof is nearly tuching my fence. IS IT LEGAL TO DO SO?

  19. gareth says:

    I have an outbuilding for keeping my bengal cats in, its 3.8m long, 3m wide and 2.1m tall. inside it is divided into 5 runs to keep the boys/girls separate and so to control any breeding. My nosey neighbour has reported us to planning who seem to be unable to tell me if I need plans. I’m told the size is fine, but the use is a grey area. I have openly told them that we have on accasion bred and sold kittens from the cats, this is why i think they have neglected to give me an answer. I have now been told that it “might” need plans but we have to wait and see what the “noise” people say when they come and investigate.

    This has ruined my childrens enjoyment of our magnificent pets.

    I read on the planning portal 3d thingy-me-bob as below

    “Incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house’ includes the keeping of poultry, bees, pet animals, birds or other livestock for the domestic needs or personal enjoyment of the occupants of the house.”

    No where on this does it say that they may not have babies?

    Thanks in advance for any help.

  20. mark says:

    Hello I am a bit worried and wondered if you could help me. On whether I am in the guidelines of not having to have planing permission I have just built a 20ft in length X 10ft wide X 6ft 11″ high I am in the guidelines of not have to have planning permission plz help also my garden is 30m long and the shed is 12 feet away from my back window if this helps any

  21. LINDA says:

    I have a neighbour that as put a shed up in her garden where my garage backs onto, The trouble I have now is the shed is that close it as blocked the light out and I can no longer open my window in the garage. Can this be legal to do this? Your advise would be appreciated. Thank you

  22. anth says:

    Will i need planning for a shed far end of my back garden it would be 16fL 8fW 7f H

  23. John Baskerville says:

    Hi how can I get round to extend my garage an extra 2ft with a fish pond at the back at the back then the front in line with the front principal of the house but I have a 4.0 mar drive in front of the garage any suggestions please

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