Is it permitted?

Under Permitted development rules the public are allowed to put up “incidental” buildings such as sheds and summerhouses without planning permission, as long as they conform to permitted height legislation.

A garden office or a garden studio used for leisure only purposes or occasionally used when working at home may well be viewed as “incidental” and usually will not require planning permission.

However, a garden office that is used for business purposes all week or a detached utility room plumbed for a washing machine etc may not be viewed as “incidental” by your local authority and they may want you to complete a planning application for it.

What does the law say?

Since the government doesn’t actually provide a clear definition of what qualifies as an “incidental” building and what does not, it is rather ambiguous.

In order to shine a little light ‘into the gloom’ I would add that an “incidental” building is one that contains things and activities that you wouldn’t usually keep or use in the house such as garden implements, sports equipment or pigeons. Art studios, fitness rooms and playrooms and summerhouses are usually viewed as incidental by your local authority.

Put a bed in it, or use it as a massage room for paying clients and your garden building will always need planning permission, if its primary use is as a bedroom or for some other regular business purpose.

In the final analysis it is often the case that you can’t be completely sure your building is permitted development without checking first with your local authority. Unless, it is clearly a garden shed that is either less than 2.5m tall, or is more than 2.5m tall and positioned at least two metres from the boundary.

If you do build an office or treatment room without planning permission and your council later decides that it did need planning permission, they will ask you to complete a retrospective planning application. It is fully within local authority power to refuse such planning permission and insist that you take the building down.

Don’t be put off applying though because local authorities are essentially positive about garden offices and other garden buildings so, even if you do require planning permission you are highly likely to get it unless your neighbours have an issue with it.

If you would like to know more about garden buildings, complete a form here with your enquiry and we will be only too happy to help.