Outbuildings incidental to the enjoyment of a dwellinghouse
Do I need permission to build a garage, shed or office in my garden? ‘I need an outbuilding as I have outgrown the house!’
The good news is that for most people you can build that structure in the garden as long as you keep to a few simple rules. The most important being up to 50% of your curtilage for additions and a maximum height of 2.5m if within 2m of a boundary. Other requirements are shown below.
When we talk about outbuildings – think of sheds, home office, swimming pools, gyms, kennels, stables for domestic animals. etc. that are to be used by those living in the house. But any outbuilding or shed should be for the use of the residents and be in proportion to the dwelling. If the house is 100 sq m and the outbuilding 75 sq m, would that be too large for the residents, even if less that 50% of the garden is used?
“Height” – references to height is the height measured from ground level. (Note, ground level is the surface of the ground immediately adjacent to the building in question, and would not include any addition laid on top of the ground such as decking. Where ground level is not uniform (for example if the ground is sloping), then the ground level is the highest part of the surface of the ground next to the building.)
Outbuildings could also include playhouses, greenhouses, garages, ponds, sauna cabins, tennis courts and many other kinds of structures for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse. A complete range of external uses in the garden of a home.
There are only a few basic limitations to outbuildings. You can only cover 50% of the curtilage of the original house, either when built or on 1st July 1948. This maximum includes any other extensions, sheds etc and not just outbuildings.
The curtilage is the land surrounding the property which is used for the benefit of those living in the house. This might include driveways, lawns, stables (for domestic animals), vegetable patch etc. It is unlikely to contain land that is separate, or paddocks etc., which are not considered part of the dwelling even though they may be linked. A recent court case ruled that land separate from the main garden was not part of the curtilage even though it was used by the family as their ‘garden’. This often applies when the garden is on the other side of a public road. So be careful where you put that shed or outbuilding,
Depending upon the size of your outbuilding or shed you might require building regs. As long as you do not have sleeping accommodation and is under 15 sq m, then you will not normally need building regs. If the outbuilding is between 15 sq m and 30 sq m and more than 1m from the boundary again you ought to be fine again if it doesn’t contain sleeping accommodation. But you might require it for elements of the outbuilding within these sizes. Outbuildings or sheds larger than 30 sq m, will require building regs. If in doubt check with Building Control.
Finally as with any permitted development right, this permission could be withdrawn due to an Article 4 or a restriction placed by a previous planning decision.
Limits and restrictions on outbuildings
Outbuildings or sheds etc. are considered to be permitted development, not needing planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:
– No outbuilding on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation
Class E – buildings etc incidental to the enjoyment of a dwellinghouse
E. The provision within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse of—
(a) any building or enclosure, swimming or other pool required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such, or the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of such a building or enclosure; or
(b) a container used for domestic heating purposes for the storage of oil or liquid petroleum gas.
Development not permitted
E.1 Development is not permitted by Class E if—
(a) permission to use the dwellinghouse as a dwellinghouse has been granted only by virtue of Class G, M, MA, N, P, PA or Q of Part 3 of this Schedule (changes of use);
(b) the total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and containers within the curtilage (other than the original dwellinghouse) would exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage (excluding the ground area of the original dwellinghouse);
(c) any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse;
(d) the building would have more than a single storey;
(e) the height of the building, enclosure or container would exceed—
(i) 4 metres in the case of a building with a dual-pitched roof,
(ii) 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure or container within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse, or
(iii) 3 metres in any other case;
(f) the height of the eaves of the building would exceed 2.5 metres;
(g) the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated within the curtilage of a listed building;
(h) it would include the construction or provision of a verandah, balcony or raised platform;
(i) it relates to a dwelling or a microwave antenna;
(j) the capacity of the container would exceed 3,500 litres; or
(k) the dwellinghouse is built under Part 20 of this Schedule (construction of new dwellinghouses).
E.2 In the case of any land within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse which is within—
(a) an area of outstanding natural beauty;
(b) the Broads;
(c) a National Park; or
(d) a World Heritage Site,
development is not permitted by Class E if the total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures, pools and containers situated more than 20 metres from any wall of the dwellinghouse would exceed 10 square metres.
E.3 In the case of any land within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse which is article 2(3) land, development is not permitted by Class E if any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land between a wall forming a side elevation of the dwellinghouse and the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse.
Interpretation of Class E
E.4 For the purposes of Class E, “purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such” includes the keeping of poultry, bees, pet animals, birds or other livestock for the domestic needs or personal enjoyment of the occupants of the dwellinghouse.
Updated: 30th December 2023