Before purchasing a new log cabin it’s a good idea to check whether you need planning permission. The buildings size, location and use will affect whether an application is required.
Deciding on a new log cabin is an exciting time. The huge rise in demand for log cabins and garden buildings recently has been driven by more of us seeing them as an extension of our homes. A growing trend is to convert a log cabin or summerhouse into a garden office and keep work and home life separate. Log cabins as garden bars are also popular, and many great examples can be found across the internet. However you plan to use a log cabin, it can provide a low-cost viable alternative to a home extension.
Unfortunately, just because a log cabin is cheaper and faster to install, doesn’t mean it can be positioned anywhere. Getting caught on the wrong side of planning regulations could mean your log cabin needing to be removed.
The good news is that for most of us planning permission will not be required. Garden buildings often fall under their own section of planning regulations which gives an exemption to the long planning applications. To fall into this scope they must meet a set of criteria around use, location and size. Let’s take a look at the planning regulations for log cabins.
Note: This information is provided as a guide, If in any doubt you should contact your local planning authority.
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Why does a log cabin not require planning permission?
For planning purposes, a log cabin is usually classed as an ‘outbuilding’ along with sheds, summerhouses, saunas and similar garden buildings. To fall under this designation, the purpose of the log cabin must be for the incidental enjoyment of the main house.
Designated outbuildings have ‘Permitted Development’ rights which allow for work to be carried out without the need to apply for permission. As most log cabins are classed as outbuildings and fall within Permitted Development, they do not require planning permission. But if the log cabin falls outside the scope of Permitted Development, an application for planning permission will be required.
How do Permitted Development rights work?
The purpose of Permitted Development is to give homeowners the ability to make improvements to their properties, without lengthy and costly processes holding them back. Permitted Development allows homeowners to carry out certain types of work, including installing an outbuilding, without the need to apply for planning permission. These regulations for houses are granted by parliament and do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings.
Some areas of the country are known as ‘designated areas’ and are locations where Permitted Development rights are restricted, affecting the ability to install a log cabin. In designated areas, a planning permission application is usually required.
To install a log cabin without planning permission, check that it falls within Permitted Development rights. When in doubt, speak to your local planning authority.
How to keep within the scope of Permitted development
The scope of Permitted Development allows for most garden buildings to be installed without planning permission. Garden room suppliers including log cabin manufacturers are aware of the planning requirements and design buildings to fit within them.
The log cabin should be a single-story building with a maximum height of up to 4 metres – To avoid a huge building potentially blocking light for surrounding properties, an outbuilding should be single story with no stairs to an upper floor. The single-story height of the log cabin can be up to 4 metres if using a dual pitched roof. Where another type of roof is used such as a flat roof, the maximum height is 3 metres.
Maximum height of 2.5 metres near a boundary – When a log cabin is positioned within two metres of a boundary, the total height can not be more than 2.5 metres. The maximum height includes the base if it is higher than the surrounding garden. The total height of a log cabin is typically just under 2.5 metres to allow it to be placed near a boundary if required.
Do not place the log cabin on land forward of the front wall of the house – Permitted Development does not allow an outbuilding on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation. Therefore a log cabin must be placed to the side or rear of the property. Most garden buildings are typically placed at the bottom of a rear garden (near the boundary).
Keep the size smaller than 50% of the original garden – To avoid properties being surrounded by lots of outbuildings, no more than half of the land around the ‘original house’ can be covered by outbuildings. The original house is as it was built and will not include any extensions already in place, even if they were installed by previous owners. For new houses with very small gardens, this could limit the size of the log cabin which can be installed under Permitted Development.
Avoid verandas and balconies – While a veranda may sound like a nice idea to create a larger useable space in front of a log cabin, it does not fall within the scope of Permitted Development. The same goes for any balcony or raised platform. If there is a raised platform, it must not exceed 30cm in height.
In some locations, the maximum covered area is limited – For locations including Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, the Broads, National Parks and World Heritage Sites the maximum area covered by buildings, enclosures, containers, and pools further than 20 metres from the house are limited to 10 square metres. If you live in one of these locations and wish to install a log cabin further than 20 metres from the house, it must be smaller than 10 square metres to avoid planning requirements.
Planning permission required at the side on Designated Land – For Designated land the scope of Permitted Development is slightly more limited. These locations include Areas of Outstanding National Beauty, Conservation areas, World Heritage Sites, National parks and the Broads.
Listed buildings always need planning permission – Any outbuilding on a listed building will require planning permission. If you plan to install a log cabin within the property of a listed building, permission must be obtained in advance.
Staying within the scope of Permitted Development is the key requirement when installing a garden building such as a log cabin. It’s also a good idea to check out these further requirements below.
No living accommodation
The purpose of an outbuilding is for the incidental enjoyment of the main dwelling house. A log cabin outbuilding is not designed to be used as a separate living accommodation as it won’t meet the same design requirements as a residential building. This includes safety and efficiency, with a log cabin not suitable for living inside. If the plan is to use the log cabin as an extra bedroom or install a bathroom, it’s going to require planning permission.
The requirement of building regulations is not something we come across often with a garden building. Thankfully, just like planning permission, building regulations approval is not usually required for a log cabin.
While planning permission looks at where a building is located, building regulations consider whether it is safe to use. The set of standards ensure a building is safe, healthy for those who use it and of a high standard. Topics covered include fire safety, efficiency and waterproofing.
A log cabin falls under the category of a ‘small detached outbuilding’ and does not require building regulations approval if it contains no sleeping accommodation and the floor area is less than 15 metres squared.
If planning permission is required
When a log cabin does not fall within Permitted Development, planning permission must be received. To begin the process, an application must be submitted to the Local Planning Authority (LPA) and will be decided in line with their development plan.
After contacting the Local Planning Authority for advice, an application can be submitted online. Supporting documents may need to be submitted and fees paid. Once all of the appropriate information for a valid planning application is submitted, the waiting period begins. The application will be consulted on and will then be considered by a planning officer. Once planning permission is granted, work can begin to install a log cabin that does not fall under Permitted Development.
An important point to note is that planning permission does not mention the floor space, width or length of an outbuilding. Therefore, as long as the total space of all outbuildings is less than 50% of the original garden, the floor space can be as big as you require. One of the most common sizes for a log cabin is 3x4m but some can go much larger than this and may even have a storage room attached.
The uses of a log cabin
The main concern of planning permission is where the building is placed rather than how it is used. For an outbuilding, the only use to steer clear of is as living accommodation. There are a huge number of uses for which a log cabin is great. We use our garden building as an office, which creates the perfect location to work distraction-free.
A log cabin can also be converted into a garden gym, containing all the essential workout equipment. If you’re not a fan of being stuck in traffic and waiting for others to finish on the equipment, a garden gym could be the answer. Garden pubs also make a great choice for those with larger log cabins to entertain friends and family.
Keeping a log cabin protected
Once a log cabin is installed it’s important to keep the wood protected to ensure longevity for years to come. We recommend using a high-quality wood treatment that will protect the wood and stop any damage from the surrounding environment. A base coat of wood preserver can also be applied to prevent fungal growth. Products such as log cabin paints and wood treatments go further than just adding colour to the building. They also provide a layer of protection against moisture and the suns UV rays.
We recommend painting a log cabin as soon as possible when the weather allows. If you do need to wait, try to keep the waiting time to a minimum and ensure the building is painted within two months of installation.
The bottom line
A log cabin makes a great addition to increase space at home without the need for an extension. Planning permission can be complex and time-consuming while the application progresses. Thankfully, planning permission is not usually required for a log cabin, allowing the freedom of easy installation once a garden building has been chosen.
However, the log cabin must fall within the scope of Permitted Development to remain exempt from planning permission. Permitted Development limits the log cabins use, size and location.
Reference: Planning Portal