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By Amy Hanlon on 09 Jul 2023

Does A Shed Need Planning Permission?


Listen up, Sheddies! This one is important – so many people ask this question, whether they’re buying a shed, summerhouse, garage or garden room. It’s quite important, after all. Do I need planning permission?

Noooooooooo!  Not the dreaded P-words! The general perception is that planning permission is a) time-consuming, b) expensive, c) mysterious and d) COMPLICATED.

But don’t fret. We deal with planning permission all the time, and it’s our job to make complicated things simple. Watch this video for a quick rundown.

So here’s what you need to know:

The vast majority of sheds and summerhouses do not need planning permission but it does depend on your individual setup.

Most will come under the heading of permitted development.

What is permitted development?

Permitted development is a category of building works and home improvement projects that generally don’t need planning permission. This category includes things like adding decking to your home, building a single-storey extension, and crucially, building a shed, garage, greenhouse or other building.

In order to fall into this category, a building must:

  • Be at the back of your home.
  • Not be used as a separate home to live in.
  • Not be more than 50% of your garden.
  • Not be any higher than 4m.
  • Not have walls higher than 3m.
  • Be less than 4m2 if you live in a listed building or conservation area.

Any building that follows all these rules counts as an ancillary building and doesn’t need planning permission.

You can find all this information on the Scottish Government website. But there are a few other wee twists and turns to navigate. So we’ve distilled everything you need to know into our simple planning permission checklist. I LOVE a checklist.

The Gillies and Mackay Planning Permission Checklist, asking ten questions to establish whether or not planning permission is likely to be needed.

If you can answer NO to all of these questions you won’t need planning permission. Not all of these questions are dealbreakers, either. Some need a little more explanation.

Can I put a shed or summerhouse within 1m of a boundary?

A boundary is anything that separates the land your house is built on from your neighbours and the rest of the outside world. It may be a fence, a wall, a hedge, or anything else that shows where that line is.

As long as you can answer no to all the other questions you can put up a shed or summerhouse within 1m of a boundary, and you don’t need planning permission to do this. 

However, if your building is within 1m of a boundary, then no part of the building can be more than 2.5m high. Look at this diagram:

A diagram showing a boundary and a 1m by 2.5m box. A shed or summerhouse outline is shown, part of which is inside the box, showing that planning permission isn't necessary for this building.

Your shed or summerhouse can be within 1m of your boundary as long as no part of it is taller than this invisible box. This doesn’t mean that the entire building can’t be taller than 2.5m, but that height can’t happen within 1m of the boundary. 

This can cause problems with larger buildings like garden rooms and garages, or even large summerhouses, but these problems can usually be solved by considering the pitch of the roof and the design of the building.

Something else to consider is whether or not your building is going to create a boundary. Planning permission will be needed if you want to put a building at the side of your house to form a boundary, or if it’s visible from the road.

Do sheds and summerhouses need a building warrant?

If your shed or summerhouse is permitted development, you don’t need to get involved with building control. You would only need a building warrant if the building is bigger than 30m2, which is pretty enormous for a shed! 

Building control looks at the specifications and sizes of buildings that are going to be used as homes to make sure that they are fit for living in, and to make sure that they’re safe and compliant with regulations. Sheds and summerhouses aren’t designed to be lived in, so there’s no need to dive into the exciting world of building control. 

If you’re installing a garden room as a guest bedroom, or if you want it to have mains plumbing, then building control may well be part of your ShedLife plans. 

What if I do need planning permission for my shed?

If your shed or summerhouse does need planning permission, don’t panic. 

You will need to submit various documents to support your application, but it’s easy enough to do this. Your shed or summerhouse company may even have a service to apply on your behalf.

Can I have a shed or summerhouse if I live in a conservation area?

If you’re lucky enough to live in either a listed building or in a conservation area you have beautiful surroundings, but you’re also bound by extra rules when it comes to any home (or garden) improvements.

Living in a conservation area or listed property doesn’t immediately rule out a shed or summerhouse, but the rules about this are different in each local authority. In Perth & Kinross, where we’re based, you can have an ancillary building of up to 8m2, which is enough of an allowance for a good-sized shed or summerhouse. 

The Scottish Government website gives an allowance of 4m2, which is enough for a small shed, but probably not enough for a summerhouse. Unfortunately, there’s no handy checklist for this one – you’ll have to contact your local authority to find out what their rules are.

Can I buy a shed or summerhouse without applying for planning permission?

You may not need planning permission at all, and even if you do, it doesn’t have to be torture! It DEFINITELY shouldn’t put you off starting your Sheddie journey. 

If you thought that owning a shed or summerhouse meant you’d have to endure paperwork, pencil-pushers and planning permission, then this is all really good news! 

The checklist will tell you if you’re in the happy lands of permitted development. For any other questions that aren’t covered in the checklist, get in touch. We’re old hands at planning permission and we’re more than happy to help.

For more information on sheds, summerhouses, garages and garden rooms, take a look at our Learning Centre. If you can’t find what you’re looking for there, we want to know about it!

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