Does my dream shed need planning permission?

(Last modified: June 20th, 2019)

Shed planning drawings

The humble garden shed has had something of a renaissance in recent years. Once a dusty dumping ground for tools, lawnmowers and anything without a home in the house, today’s sheds are as weird and wonderful as their owners’ imagination.

They even star in their own TV show. Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year is now onto its fourth series and has showcased everything from a shed made from wine bottles to a Nepalese mountain hut in Bolton.

One of the main reasons why sheds are so popular (and their owners can be so creative) is that they don’t require planning permission. As long as you follow the official guidelines of course. These lay out everything from the shed’s size to the things you are and aren’t permitted to do within their walls. Stick to these rules and you’ll avoid an unwanted (and potentially expensive) visit from your local planning inspector.

For the purposes of this article we refer to ‘sheds’ but these rules also apply to greenhouses and other outbuildings such as garden offices.

Planning permission is NOT required as long as:

  1. The shed is used for domestic purposes only. Feel free to invite your mates round to check out your recreation of ‘The Rovers Return’, but don’t charge strangers £5 for a pint of homebrew.
  2. Nobody sleeps in the building overnight. Home offices are fine but unfortunately your cunning plan to add an extra bedroom at the bottom of the garden will need planning consent.
  3. The ground area covered by the shed and any other buildings within the boundary of the property, excluding the original house, is not more than half the total area of the property. In other words, no sheds that take up more than half your garden.
  4. You might be extremely proud of your shed but putting it in the front garden for the whole world to admire is also a no-no. Rules state that no part of your shed can be in front of the main or side elevation of the original house when it faces onto a road.
  5. If you’ve got designs on a multi-storey mancave you might have to reign your ambitions in a touch. The maximum height of a shed that doesn’t require planning permission is 4 metres.
  6. Where you build your shed also has an effect on how high your shed can be. If it’s within 2 metres of the property boundary the maximum eaves height of the shed mustn’t be over 2.5 metres.
  7. If there’s a road to the rear of your home, no part of the shed can be within 3.5 metres of the boundary.
  8. If you’re lucky enough to live in a house within a World Heritage Site, area of outstanding natural beauty, or National Park then the maximum total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and pools situated more than 20 metres from any wall of the house is not allowed to exceed 10 square metres. You’re also not allowed to build a shed between the principal or side elevation of the house and its boundary.
  9. And last but certainly not least, your shed must not be used for keeping pigeons. Sorry pigeon fanciers.

Note: Measurements are always calculated using external dimensions. 

If you live in a house which is a listed building, it’s likely that you’ll need Listed Building Consent for any building operations. If the development is within the grounds of a listed building you may need to submit a planning application for the work unless listed building consent has already been granted. Your local planning office will be able to give you more advice.

Once you’ve got planning covered, it’s time to get cracking on the exciting bit; deciding what your shed’s going to look like and what you’re going to put in it.

Start by deciding whether your shed’s going to have electricity. If you’re going ‘full man-cave’ with a TV, fridge, fruit machine etc, you’re going to need more than an extension cable from your kitchen window. Ditto if you’re planning a proper workshop with heavy tools. Connecting your shed to the grid is a big job but it’s well worth researching if you’re planning a premium space.

bar stools in man-cave

Think about what you’re going to get up to in your shed. If it’s going to be your man sanctuary then start looking out for star items on ebay, freecycle, Gumtree and the like. Second-hand pool tables, sofas and even reclaimed fixtures and fittings from pubs can all be picked up relatively cheaply.

If it’s primarily a workshop, then storage is going to be key. Shelving, metal racks and other clever uses of space are all worth exploring, with Pinterest a good place to start for ingenious storage inspiration.

shed workshop

When it comes to the overall design of the shed, you’ll probably have a few thoughts already, but do spend a while looking at ideas online too. If you’re pressed for time there are also plenty of free plans for sheds on the web. Think about materials as well, for instance, do you want the added strength of a metal framed design?

And whatever you need for your build, from materials to tools, metals4U has you covered. Good luck and happy shedding!