Installing a shed can create extra storage space on your property to keep items dry and secure. Staying within designated planning requirements is essential to the correct installation of any garden building and avoids unnecessary concerns later on.
A shed is a fixture of most gardens throughout the country, creating a convenient location for storing tools and larger items such as bikes, lawnmowers and barbecues. Now more than ever, sheds are being used for more purposes such as bars and even garden offices. When it comes to purchasing a new shed, many of us want to go larger than the previous one or place it in a new location within our garden. Before the installation of any new shed or other garden building, it’s important to check for local planning requirements which may apply as this could affect the size, location or use of the garden shed.
Outbuildings including sheds generally fall under different rules than residential buildings, giving us more flexibility around the type of building we install. For most sheds, there are no special requirements, as long as we stay within the Permitted Development rules for outbuildings, we have the freedom to choose which shed to install and where it is positioned.
How close can a shed be to a fence?
General planning (permitted development) laws for England do not specify a distance that must be maintained between a shed and a fence line. Therefore, the shed could be installed as close as you wish to the neighbouring fence. However, local councils may set out additional rules around outbuildings and so you should also check with your local planning authority in case any additional requirements are in place.
It often doesn’t make sense to install a shed all the way up to a fence line. A shed requires construction on a solid base such as concrete. Installing concrete against your boundary can be a challenge, particularly getting the framing around it to pour the concrete into. During the installation of the shed, it may also be difficult to correctly install with limited space to work within. Fitting the exterior panels against each other may not be possible if there is no access to the side or rear of the building.
The biggest challenge with a shed close to a fence is ongoing maintenance. Just like most garden buildings, sheds are made of timber which can suffer from damp or rot if not treated correctly. The timber needs to be able to breathe and should be correctly ventilated to stop damp building up. Exterior walls up against a fence create the perfect location for moisture to stick around and damp issues to arise over time.
A shed should be treated with a good quality wood treatment to provide weather resistance and protection from decay. To maintain full protection, most wood treatments require a fresh coating every 3-5 years. With the building placed up against a fence, it may not be possible to maintain the exterior timber correctly. During installation, wood treatment will need to be applied before the walls are placed into position and several coats should be applied if you won’t be able to access them again.
It’s also important to consider your neighbours. A huge shed placed up against their fence line may block light into the neighbouring garden and prove to be an eyesore. Keeping your neighbours happen maintains good relationships and creates a better environment for you to enjoy your garden.
With all of this in mind, we recommend leaving ideally a 2 metre gap between your shed and the fence of any neighbouring properties. Doing so maintains easy access around the building for maintenance.
How close can a shed be to a house?
Similar to placing a shed near a fence, there’s no specific Permitted Development requirement for a shed to maintain a distance from the house. But local councils may have their own requirements so it’s always best to check with your local planning authority first.
We also don’t recommend placing a shed near a house where possible, for all the same reasons as not placing it near a shed. Damp is a particular concern with a garden building up against a house. Being placed up against solid brick walls creates no space for air to move around and damp issues could arise in both the shed and house. Creating a suitable shed foundation could also be challenging near an existing house, without affecting the property or making permanent changes to it.
How do Permitted Development rules apply to sheds?
For the purposes of planning permission, sheds fall under outbuildings, as do most summerhouses, garages and log cabins. For outbuildings, Permitted Development rules apply which are designed to give homeowners the ability to install the outbuilding without applying for a permit. Essentially, Permitted Development allows us to make improvements to our homes which could increase the value or make better use of the space. These are general rules for England and full details can be found on the Planning Portal.
Selected areas do not have full Permitted Development rights which may limit whether the outbuilding can be installed. This includes areas of outstanding national beauty, conservation areas, world heritage sites and national parks.
For a shed to be considered as Permitted Development, it must fall within the following scope:
- A single-story building with a height of up to 4m with a dual pitched roof or 3m with any other roof. Keeping your shed within the specified height stops it from becoming obstructive and blocking light into neighbouring properties. Sheds commonly use dual pitched roofs but can also be found with a flat roof. The base should also be taken into account for the total height of the shed if it is raised above the surrounding garden.
- Within 2 metres of a boundary, the maximum building height is 2.5m. Therefore, if you plan to install your shed next to a fence it cannot be as tall as if it is going to be placed further away. Most sheds available are less than 2.5m tall, allowing them to be positioned anywhere on your property. Always check with the building manufacturer around the exact dimensions.
- No sheds on land forward of the wall forming the principal reservation. Outbuildings including sheds must be positioned no further forward than the front wall forming the house. Therefore a shed cannot be placed in a front garden but is permitted in a side or rear garden area.
- No verandas or raised platforms. A veranda can add extra space around an outbuilding, providing shelter and increasing the usable area. Unfortunately, this is not included in Permitted Development and will require separate permission from the local planning authority. A raised platform must be kept below 30cm in height.
- No more than half the space around the original property can be used for outbuildings. Therefore a massive shed taking up most of the garden is out of the question. If there are pre-existing outbuildings in the garden, even from before you moved into the property, they are included in the count for using up space.
- Further requirements on designated land. Living in a designated area including national heritage parks and areas of outstanding national beauty reduces the options available under permitted development. Buildings on the side of the property will require planning permission and buildings more than 20m from the house are limited in size to 10 square metres. Listed buildings require planning permission for any type of outbuilding.
Guide: Garden building planning permission
How to proceed
Once you understand all of the requirements for installing a garden shed, it’s time to find one suitable for your use and await delivery. In most circumstances, you can build right up to your neighbour’s fence but in reality, it’s not always the best option. If you are going to, be sure to speak with your neighbours first and ensure they don’t raise any major concerns. After you have installed your shed, the last thing you want is for the local planning authority to contact you due to a neighbour’s objections.
Maintenance is an important consideration for any new garden building. Without proper care and attention, the lifespan of the building is going to be reduced significantly. Timber which is properly ventilated and cared for has a long lifespan of many years without needing to be replaced. For most garden sheds a wood treatment is applied after installation with the aim of providing weather resistance and reducing dampness and rot. Over time, the exterior walls may require further treatment and access to all four sides is essential. Installation too close to a boundary may make it difficult to gain access in the future.
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