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A Guide to Garden Office Planning Permission

Apr 17, 2020 | Helpful Guides | 0 comments

If you’re planning on adding a garden office, then the first step is to check and see fi you need planning position to build your new office. When reviewing contractors’ websites, you may have come across several saying that planning permission isn’t required. However, we’re here to tell you that this may not be correct information.

While it’s true that many garden offices can be built under the “Permitted Development” rules, there are cases where you’ll first need to obtain planning permission. These rules are set up as a guide that stipulate where the office can be positioned, the size of the planned office and more. You’ll also find specific information on buildings that do not require planning permission.

What Types of Buildings Don’t Require Planning Permission?

There are two factors to check to see if your garden office needs planning permission or not:

1). Building height: the planning requirement rules will list specific maximum heights that are allowed for garden offices that don’t require planning permission. These rules have been developed to protect you and your neighbours. For instance, a new garden office could overshadow part of your neighbour’s home.

In addition, the rules will stipulate the distance from a fence that’s between you and your neighbour, and rules that take into consideration how the building will be used.

Keep in mind that some planning permission requirements tell you how tall your house can be. The most common height allowance is 2.5m. At this height, once you install the insulation in the floor and ceiling, you may lose a considerable amount of headroom. You’ll be unable to stand up comfortably (if you’re tall) or even stretch your arms over your head.

2). How will your garden office be used: in some areas, you may require planning permission for your office if you run a business from there 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. This is the case even if your garden office is less than 2.5m in height.

On the other hand, if you only use the building once in a while for working, then you may not need planning permission.

One more important note, if you happen to have a lot of clients visiting your garden office on a regular basis, this could disturb the neighbours. In this case, you may need planning permission; however, if you work quietly from your garden office, then you may not need permission to build it.

3). Know what “incidental” refers to in permitted development rules: this is important. When you’re reviewing permitted development rules, you’ll come across a term such as “incidental buildings.” What does this mean?

The rules allow you to develop “incidental” buildings, which may include sheds, summerhouses, and more. These don’t require planning permission. This is the case most of the time; however, in some cases, if you happen to work from your office 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, some local authorities will say that planning permission is required.

This varies for each local authority, as each place interprets the rules in a different way. Which makes it confusing, we understand. However, in most cases an incident building will include things and activities that you can’t keep in the house. This would include a summerhouse or a shed for storing garden tools. Playrooms and studios may also be termed incidental.

If your garden office is used for 24/7 as a place of business, it will require planning permission.

It’s imperative you check in advance to see if your garden office is considered to be incidental or not before it’s built. If you later find the local authority does require planning permission for your building, they will require that you fill out a retrospective planning permit application. When they review your application, it’s entirely possible they will refuse permission, and then you’d have to remove the building.

Permitted Development Rules for Garden Offices & Outbuildings

Now, let’s review the permitted development rules for garden offices in England and Wales. First, it’s good to understand that the rules say nothing about “garden offices,” “garden rooms,” or anything distinctly applicable to a garden office. Instead, you may see the term “outbuilding,” which is a non-specific term for outbuildings, which can include a garden office.

Keep in mind that rules for outbuildings apply to these types of buildings:

  • Garages
  • Sheds
  • Greenhouses
  • Swimming pools
  • Ponds
  • Sauna cabins
  • Kennels
  • Tennis courts
  • And more

Each of type of building is made for other purposes than what can be done in the primary home.

Best of all, outbuildings are classified as permitted development, and usually don’t require planning permission, if they meet the following conditions:

  • Outbuildings must be single storey, with a maximum height of 2.5 m, and a maximum height of 4 m for a dual pitched roof or 3m for other types of roofs.
  • The outbuilding cannot be on land that’s forward of a wall that forms the principal elevation of a house.
  • They can have a maximum height of 2.5m if located within 2m of a boundary of the curtilage of the house (no verandas, raised platforms or balconies). 
  • Not more than half the area of land around the original house is to be covered by additions or buildings.

Will Your Garden Office Require Planning Permission?

Here are three main concerns and worries that some people have about obtaining permission for their garden office; however, these usually don’t require planning permission:

My neighbours may complain: this is a common concern, because many planning applications usually do turn up a complaint, or at the very least a comment. However, most planning departments are aware of this, and generally treat complaints and comments with respect. While this is true, they will also consider your needs and the merits of the building design. To obtain your permission:

  • Ensure you have a well-designed building
  • Build only with quality materials
  • Make sure to position the garden office in a sensible position & that the office isn’t too large for your garden
  • If working from your garden office, then keep quiet and be as unobtrusive as possible

My local planning department has a reputation for being unreasonable: this can be a problem, as some local authorities have codes in place to plan the type of development they want in the area. Problems come up if you have a building that’s badly designed, or you fill out the planning application without knowledge of what’s allowed or not, and more.

To overcome this issue:

  • Make sure your design is appropriate for your garden and/or neighbourhood
  • Ensure the design for the garden office is well designed

It takes too long to obtain planning permission for a garden office: this process usually takes about 2 months. While this may seem like a long time, it’s better to go through and obtain planning permission before building the garden office. To do otherwise could lead to rejection of your application. And if you’ve built the garden office in the meantime, you’ll be forced to take it down if the application’s been rejected.

Instead, as you wait for the approval of the plans, there are things you can do to prepare for the building of your garden office. For instance, you can choose the fixtures, purchase your office furniture and equipment and more.

Going about this process in the right way can mean having an amazing garden office, increasing your property’s value and more.

Wrapping It All Up

Remember that it’s your responsibility, as the homeowner, to obtain planning permission. This is not the responsibility of the building, no matter what they may say.

When applying for planning permission, remember to have quality designs, avoid issues that could cause your application to be rejected and other issues. Remember, too, that in most cases, the planning department will approve your garden office, but the approval process may take up to 8 weeks.     

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