Planning permission can be confusing at the best of times. Figuring out whether your summerhouse requires planning permission comes down to a series of questions on the construction, location and use of the building.
Purchasing a summerhouse creates an additional room in your garden that can be enjoyed throughout the year. For many of us, the summerhouse is somewhere to relax and escape from the house for a while. Many popular uses include a gym, garden office or pub shed.
Planning the project is confusing enough without having to consider planning permission. With so many designs and options to choose from, it can be difficult to get the information required for your chosen garden building. Summerhouses come in all shapes and sizes, and while most won’t require any planning permission, a small number of them will.
Without the correct information, you could find yourself in a situation where your chosen location is not suitable for your summerhouse. There is a lot of different and contrasting information available on the internet. In this post, we will stick to the facts provided by the planning portal.
Note: This information is provided as a guide, If in any doubt you should contact your local planning authority.
Outbuildings are considered to be Permitted Development
When it comes to planning permission, summerhouses generally fall into the category of outbuildings, which are governed under rules of permitted development. An outbuilding includes structures that are built for the purpose of enjoyment of the house who’s land they are built on. Rules on outbuildings apply to sheds, garages, greenhouses, sauna cabins and many additional structures.
What are Permitted Development rights?
Permitted development allows for some types of work to be completed without the need to apply for planning permission. These are general rules for England, but in some locations there may be additional restrictions in place. If you live in a conservation area, listed building, national park, area of outstanding national beauty or world heritage site additional regulations are going to apply. Thankfully, most of us don’t live in one of these locations and permitted development rules will usually cover our local area.
Permitted development provides excellent opportunities for homeowners to improve their properties and maximise any investment. Your local council will be able to provide any additional detail on permitted development rights in your local area.
For your summerhouse to fall within Permitted Development rights, it must still sit within certain limits for both size and how the building will be used.
Outbuildings must not exceed 50% of the land around the original house
If you plan to use the majority of your land for a giant garden pub, you may need to think again. Planning rules state that any outbuildings should not take up more than half of the area of land around the original house. The original house refers to the building as it was first built or how it stood on the 1st of July 1948. Keep in mind that even if the previous owners added an extension before you moved in (after July 1948), it does not count as the original house.
This rule applies to the combined total of outbuildings on your land and not to each building individually. If you already have a shed, garage or additional outbuilding, it counts towards the amount of land already being used. Put simply, at least half of the space in the original garden should be left free.
A single-storey building with a maximum overall height of 4m with a dual pitched roof or 3m with any other roof
Specific requirements around the height of a summerhouse keep neighbours satisfied and stop garden buildings from becoming obstructive. The outbuilding should be a single-story construction with no stairs to access an additional floor.
A dual pitched roof is common for the design of a summerhouse, shed or garage. This style is at its highest point in the centre of the building and is great for maximising headroom inside of a summerhouse. Planning rules state the maximum height of the building must be no more than 4 metres. The eaves of the building, where the roof overhangs the wall, must also be no higher than 2.5 metres.
Contemporary design summerhouses commonly feature a flat roof, without any points in the middle. For a flat roof, the maximum height of the building must not exceed 3 metres at its tallest part.
If part of the summerhouse includes an additional raised base or framework, this should also be taken into account as it increases the buildings overall height from the ground. The garden building manufacturer will be able to provide detailed measurements for the height of a summerhouse.
A maximum height of 2.5m within two metres of a boundary
While the previous point on height applies to most locations in your garden, if the summerhouse will be placed close to a boundary, additional rules apply. Firstly, the building can still be placed within 2 metres of the boundary, it must just meet the additional maximum height requirements.
Within 2 metres from the boundary, the building must not be taller than 2.5 metres from the existing ground level. For this reason, most summerhouses available to purchase are a maximum height of 2.5 metres to allow them to meet the standard of the strictest planning requirements.
Larger summerhouses and garden rooms can sometimes be taller which will make them not suitable for use within 2 metres of a boundary. Even on larger buildings, pent roofs tend to be smaller than 2.5 metres, but this should always be checked before purchasing. Keep in mind any foundations that may increase the height of the building above 2.5 metres.
Cannot be used as living accommodation or have an antenna
The summerhouse in your garden cannot be used as living accommodation. The building grade of a summerhouse will not meet residential standards. This means your summerhouse cannot be used as a regular home away from the house and should not include a bedroom or bathroom etc. For use as a separate dwelling, a professionally constructed building that meets planning permission requirements will be needed.
The summerhouse must also not have a TV aerial or dish (microwave antenna) fitted to the exterior of the building. Luckily, for most uses, a summerhouse will use an internet connection inside of a TV aerial. The Internet can be connected both wirelessly or wired from the house with ease.
While the above requirements around the size and use of an outbuilding are most applicable to a summerhouse, several further requirements also apply to permitted development.
Use of a front garden – Regulations state the outbuilding cannot be built forward of the wall forming the principal elevation. This means constructing a summerhouse in a front garden is not permitted. Instead, it should be built to either the side or rear of the original property.
No Verandas and balconies or raised platforms– A veranda is a roofed open-air attachment to the side of a building. Neither a veranda nor balcony fall within the requirements of permitted development and will both require planning permission.
A raised platform is not permitted if it is over 300mm high. You can still build decking as long as it is below 0.3 metres from the ground.
Limited size for special property groups – If your house falls within the location of a world heritage site, area of outstanding national beauty, the broads or national park, additional rules apply. For these locations, if the outbuilding is more than 20 metres from the house, the size of the outbuilding is limited to 10 square metres.
On designated land, side outbuildings require permission – For homes built on designated land (national parks, the Broads, areas of outstanding national beauty, conservation areas, world heritage sites) outbuildings require planning permission to be built on the side of the original property. At these locations, a summerhouse will need to be in the rear garden to count as permitted development.
Listed buildings require permission – If you live in a listed property, planning permission is required before constructing any outbuilding. A summerhouse cannot be erected before obtaining planning permission from the local planning authority.
For the majority of us, no planning permission is required to install a summerhouse in our gardens. Outbuildings fall under Permitted Development rights which are designed to allow property owners to easily make improvements to their homes. To fall within Permitted Development, requirements must be met in terms of the maximum size of the building. Additional size requirements apply when placed within 2m of a boundary.
For properties in designated areas, stricter planning rules are in place. If in doubt contact your local planning authority before beginning any work to give peace of mind and avoid potentially falling foul of the rules later on.
Source: Planning Portal