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By Cara Mackay on 21 Feb 2019

Garden Rooms: Do I need Planning Permission and/or Building Control

Nothing gets my shed door slamming more than when customers can’t get the right information about Planning and Building Control from their local authorities.

More often than not, customers are under the assumption that if you don’t need Planning (based on the Permitted Development Act) you are absolutely well within your rights to erect a building in your garden. No questions asked…

Well, not quite.

What’s this Planning all about then?

Planning are interested in the aesthetics and the overall impact the building will have on the surrounding environment. They’re not much concerned about the structure or whether you’re going to be safe in it.

Planning regulations are the same for every council.

The permitted development rules for an ancillary (Garden) building are that:

  • it’s located at the back of the house,
  • it’s not used as a separate home to live in,
  • it and any other development, does not take up half or more of the ‘curtilage’ (this means half or more of the grounds behind your home),
  • it’s not higher than 4 metres at the highest point,
  • any part that’s a metre or less from the boundary is no higher than 2.5 metres,
  • the eaves (the part where the wall meets the roof) is no higher than 3 metres,
  • if the land is in a conservation area or in the grounds of a listed building, the ancillary building has a footprint of less than 4 square metres.


Even if you don’t comply with the above, obtaining planning permission is fairly straightforward.

You’ll need scale drawings of your building and a site plan to show where it’s going, in relation to your house and the rest of your garden.

Here’s an example of the documents you’ll need to submit:

Example of Planning Permission Documents

This is then processed over 6-8 weeks through the council channels. Your neighbours will be notified and invited to comment if they have any concerns.

There are only a handful of reasonable objections that planning will consider and they are:

  • Overlooking – if your building will be visible and look into your neighbour’s property
  • Visual Impact – hard to contest but will stand in conservation areas
  • Light Disruption – blocking the sun
  • Noise/Disturbance – use of the building

This means your neighbour can’t just object because they don’t like you and/or are jealous of your ShedLife dream 😉

Related Content: New Garden Building: Dealing with Difficult  Neighbours

Throughout the planning application stages, the department may request additional information, or on acceptance, they may stipulate that it needs to be painted a certain colour and/or the roof covering must be of a specific material.

It’s unlikely they’ll exert their authority to any extremes for permission. They’re usually accommodating and friendly, but if you do get an Erchie just let me know and I’ll help you out.

If you don’t want to do the Planning Application yourself, we will help you find an architect to do it for you.

But what about Building Control?

A mythical beast, Building Control is rarely talked about when it comes to garden buildings. But it’s something that can make a massive difference to the cost and procedure if you don’t know what you’re doing.

Building Control are specifically concerned about the structure of your building and want to ensure the safety of it. Particularly the fire safety element. It can get very technical and requires an engineer to certify the compliance of your building.

Sifting through the regulations is best left to the experts so if you’d rather not get involved with the expense of architects, engineers and application fees, then the easiest thing to do is to keep within the restrictions for permitted development. And they are that:

  • the building cannot have mains plumbing or water wastage,
  • the building must be kept to under 30m2.

Additionally, there is a boundary discrepancy for buildings of a certain size which requires you to fireproof the boundary wall but doesn’t require you to submit an application.

If you’re thinking of a building larger than 30m2, consider splitting the building into 2 smaller builds, separate from each other, first. If that’s not an option, then you will require a building warrant.

Similarly, if the alternatives to mains plumbing (much like what you can get in a mobile home) aren’t to your liking, you will require a building warrant.

Gillies and Mackay’s Blackstone Garden Rooms (O12m2) have a construction that has been approved by Building Control on previous applications. We would recommend this to your chosen architect. Your architect would then do everything that is required for obtaining your warrant and arrange an engineer to certify it.

We can help you find an architect to do this for you.

So what should you do next?

I’m keeping this sweet, as although the regulations are general, Planning and Building Control are, ultimately, determined by each individual project. What we can do is an initial site visit to determine and advise on what’s best for you, your garden and your needs.

Don’t struggle to figure this all out on your own. Too often it stops Sheddies from progressing with their ShedLife.

But it’s not as scary as it might first seem and we’re really, really helpful here at G&M – it’s our job ken – we love all this stuff.

Get in touch if you want to chat about your specific project and we’ll make a plan together.

Natty x

Related Content: DIY Garden Room: The Half Build

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