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Earlybird delivery discount: Check out reductions available on this page. Take advantage now.
Now is the time to pick up an ex-display building during our annual sale. See remaining models here At LEAST 30% Off

Earlybird delivery discount: Check out reductions available on this page. Take advantage now.
Now is the time to pick up an ex-display building during our annual sale. See remaining models here At LEAST 30% Off

Planning Permission: A Comprehensive Guide for Garden Office Owners

Many people prefer to have a relaxing space. Finally, there is enough room for gardening supplies, lawnmowers, tools, and, most importantly, a place to work.

Unfortunately, planning permission remains an ongoing concern in the United Kingdom. Many people are concerned about their ability to create a garden structure with no limits.

It depends on the response. Due to legal changes, most garden offices at your home no longer require planning clearance. Check out our complete collection.

The following information explains how to gain planning clearance for garden construction. In conclusion, you should know if you require planning permission for your new building.

Planning Permission for Garden Building Development Rights

In 2008, the Labour government introduced the Town and Country Planning Act. Its goal was to modernise outdated planning procedures and make home improvements easier for English citizens.

Many harsh planning regulations were abolished overnight, much to the amazement of inhabitants nationwide. An Englishman once again dominated his stronghold!

The regulation specified that local planning officials could not halt development progress if it met certain conditions. Individuals were allowed to erect garden buildings in their homes if they followed limitations.

The law covered domestic structures like cottages, garages, greenhouses, and recreational buildings. It meant that anyone might construct an outbuilding or garden office that added to the home’s attractiveness.

The crucial term here is “outbuildings.” Even after the 2008 act, private homeowners had to acquire planning permission for improvements required for the house’s operation. However, current laws are far more accommodating to homeowners who want to build new structures on their property, such as dog kennels, steam rooms, and offices for working from home.

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What restrictions govern outbuildings in allowed development?

Permitted development legislation permits you to build your structure without going through the regular planning process. However, your proposals must adhere to legal limitations. This list describes the requirements for new garden offices to be approved for development.

For personal use only.

The office building can only be used for residential purposes. Permitted development restrictions prohibit you from constructing commercial workshops for production purposes on your land. There are no sleeping accommodations.

It is prohibited to construct a room with a sleeping area. Structures should not be used as homes; they should be used during the day or occasionally at night.

Strict dimensions

The construction cannot extend beyond half of the garden (excluding the dwelling) or the entire plot.

Nothing Is Above The Principal Elevation

The construction cannot be done in front of your house’s front wall, which is the lawn section connecting your front garden to the street.

Height restrictions

Any garden house you build should be:

  • Less than 2.5 metres tall at the eaves
  • Less than 4 metres tall at the highest point if dual-pitched
  • Less than 3 metres tall in any other case

The rule specifies that taller structures can be created but must adhere to maximum height standards. Double-height office buildings with eaves are not authorised.

Single Storey

To meet the previous criteria, the building must have only one storey. Under the granted development rights, staircases, mezzanines, and second stories are not permitted.

Within the property’s boundaries

The building’s edge should be two metres from the property boundary. Avoid placing them amid large lawns or paved surfaces.

There is no porch or balcony.

Extensions to garden structures that resemble residential spaces, such as sitting rooms or planting areas, are prohibited.

Enhanced Structures 300 mm or smaller

Raised components, including the concrete base, are limited to 300 mm above ground level.

What size may a garden office be without planning permission?

They should not exceed 15 square metres in size. Restrictions apply to structures greater than 30 square metres. However, these are only permitted under limited instances, such as when new structures are constructed on an industrial or agricultural site. Planners are hesitant to approve extra-large constructions on standard residential lands.

Can I build a garden room near the boundary?

Building near the fence is permitted as long as it is less than 2.5m high and does not breach the restrictions listed above. We recommend allowing approximately 30cm to allow access to treat the structure. It is also strongly advised that you inform your neighbours about your plans. This is not required, however.

When is planning authorisation required?

When the government granted approved development rights in 2008, the intention was to allow homeowners to construct conventional garden structures such as garden offices and leisure buildings. However, if you intend to go beyond this, you would most likely need planning clearance.

Planning approval and allowed construction rights are sometimes required to operate a garden office as a self-contained unit. If you employ someone to work in the office, you would need planning permission. According to planning regulations, providing running water and other living facilities makes it of interest.

To run a home office from your garden building, which will need to be insulated for all year round use,, you will also need planning approval. If you work alone, planners will quickly approve you to build this form of garden building. However, getting permission to meet with clients may prove more difficult.

Exceptions

The vast majority of residential dwellings in the UK are subject to permitted development laws. However, different laws, ordinances, and customs apply in other cases.

Designated land

Current rules do not allow you to exercise your full permitted development rights in:

  • National parks (e.g., Lake District, New Forest, and Dartmoor)
  • Areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) like the Howardian Hills or North Pennine.
  • World Heritage Sites (historic monuments)
  • Conversation Areas

However, certain rights may still be available. In some areas, it may be possible to build without planning authorisation.

  • The area is less than 10 square meters.
  • It is over 20 metres from any permanent home wall.

Listed buildings

Listed building restrictions also restrict the scope of permissible construction. Even if your building meets the above standards, you must still obtain listed building approval.

There are three types of listed buildings.

  • Grade II
  • Grade II*
  • Grade I

Most listed buildings in England and Wales are Grade II; Grade II* denotes “national importance,” while Grade I denotes “exceptional importance.”

The local authority grants permission to work on listed buildings. Permission is required for any work done within the property’s boundaries (or near to them in some situations), including garden office construction.

Planners provide consent on an individual basis. Their primary concern is the impact on the building’s historical character.

Most planners choose designs that mimic or improve the previous building’s look. As a result, avoid attempting to assemble anything prefabricated or made of metal. Acceptable solutions may be costly, but they will give you more room in your home.

Before purchasing a garden building for a listed structure, speak with your local Conservation Officer. This official can assist you in submitting proper designs and materials for your proposed building, but they cannot promise that you will obtain planning permission.

Garden Buildings in Woodlands

Permitted development rights extend to woodland buildings, although with tighter restrictions than residential gardens.

To get listed building consent, you must show that the building is “reasonably necessary” for woodland maintenance. Legitimate applications include storing equipment and tools and providing a workspace for forest management.

You should also examine the size. The Act does not establish the size restrictions for woody structures. Planners are more inclined to approve constructions less than 20 square metres.

Bathrooms and bedrooms.

Garden offices with bathrooms and beds do not meet allowed development rights. These structures could be used as dwellings, requiring additional planning authorisation. Prior consent is required before installing a toilet or washbasin in a building. If such items are included, local authorities may order their removal.

What happens if you break permitted development rules when building an outbuilding?

Before beginning construction, please consult with your local planning authority (LPA) to confirm that your designs fit their specifications. Local governments will take legal action if they discover you have violated allowed development restrictions.

If authorities discover that your building breaches permitted growth regulations or lacks the necessary planning approval, they may take enforcement action. Construction sites will receive a Stop Notice. Stop building on the garden office immediately.

Owners of completed buildings will receive an Enforcement Notice. To comply with the rules, you must remove or alter the building as specified in this notice.

The severity of these notifications is determined by how far you deviate from approved development rights. In other circumstances, you may need to dismantle your garden’s office.

Local governments generally avoid issuing fines for mistakes. However, sanctions may only apply if you follow planning requirements on time. Therefore, check the deadline on your Enforcement Notice. It should indicate when you will be fined.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I discover more about the garden office’s approved development?

The government has made collecting information on allowed development regulations for sheds and other outbuildings straightforward. GOV.UK website and PlanningPortal.co.uk. Local solicitors occasionally provide helpful information.

Can the council have me remove my shed or outbuilding?

The council may demolish a wooden building needing planning authority or breach development constraints. However, circumstances in which you must eliminate the entire structure are rare.

Sometimes, you can request retrospective planning permission. Here, you apply after the building has been completed, and the local government will accept it retrospectively.

In other cases, you can make minor changes to bring it into compliance with the approved development requirements. These may include moving it to a better location or lowering its height.

Can I still sell my house if I still need to receive planning permission for an unapproved garden office?

If you have planning permission to construct a garden building, it may be easier to sell your house. Violations of planning restrictions may discourage buyers and reduce asking prices.

Can I connect an approved building to mains electricity?

Permitted development sometimes includes mains electrical hookups for garden buildings. However, permitted development does not ensure this right. Instead, contact your local building control authority to see if you can add cables and outlets under the Building Regulations.

Is sleeping in a garden office possible without planning permission?

The HomeOwners Alliance recommends that if you intend to use a structure for regular sleeping or as a self-contained living space, such as a granny annexe, you obtain planning permission and adhere to building regulations.

Does allowed development include pre-built buildings?

Yes, permitted development rights remain applicable to pre-built sheds.

What materials can be used to create a shed with allowed development rights?

Permitted development rights apply regardless of the materials used to build your garden office. As a result, you can use standard wood slats, metal, or brick as required.

The above advice is given in good faith based on my understanding of planning requirements after 45 years in the garden building business. As I say, always double-check with your local planning officers to be 100% sure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Planning Garden Offices

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  • How close to the boundary can I build a garden office in the UK?

    The distance you can build a garden office from the boundary in the UK depends on the exact location and any local regulations in place. In most cases, garden offices can be built up to 2 meters from the boundary without planning permission, provided the building is at most 2.5 meters high. However, it's crucial to check with your local planning authority to confirm specific requirements for your area to avoid potential issues down the line.
  • What if my building meets some but not all approved development rules?

    Only construct structures that fulfil the permitted development standards to avoid receiving notifications from the local administration. Nonetheless, you may pursue a Lawful Development Certificate. These help you determine whether your building’s violation of planning authorisation is legal. If so, it can keep standing.
  • What to consider when building a garden office?

    When building a garden office, consider the location's proximity to utilities for easy access. Ensure the structure complies with planning permission and relevant building regulations. Opt for durable materials that require minimal maintenance. Design the space with ample natural light and ventilation to create a productive work environment. Plan for sufficient insulation to make the office comfortable year-round. Prioritise security features such as sturdy locks and alarm systems. Lastly, factor in future expansion possibilities for long-term usability.

About Author:

Robin Antill is an established authority in the field of quality garden building manufacturing, boasting over four decades of experience. Having founded Titan Garden Buildings in 1979, he demonstrated a commitment to excellence from the outset by moving away from subpar materials and embarking on crafting buildings of superior quality.


His lineage of craftsmanship, traced back to his father and grandfather's business in Cleethorpes, underscores his dedication to quality and customer satisfaction. Robin's son, Craig, who joined the business in 1990, brings additional expertise, having honed his skills at Guildford College in joinery.


Together, they elevated Titan Garden Buildings, which eventually evolved into 1st Choice Leisure Buildings. Their enduring focus on premium materials, top-notch manufacturing, and unparalleled customer service, along with Craig's digital acumen in creating the company's online presence, showcase their expertise and reliability in the industry.


Robin’s expertise was featured in Realtor.com, Homes&Gardens, The London Economic, and dozens other publications.


Woking Show Site
1st Choice Leisure Buildings
Woking Garden Buildings Show Site
Sutton Green Garden Centre,
Whitmoor Ln, Sutton Green,
Guildford,
GU4 7QA
Phone 01483 237550