Professional Architects and Designers in Solihull Est. 1981

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Building an outbuilding without planning permission

Posted in Top Tips | Written by Vicki Potter

Permitted Development outbuildings

Our previous article on Permitted Development Rights focused on single storey extensions. This one gives you information on creating an outbuilding without planning permission.

This part of the permitted development rules is known as Class E. 

What are the permitted uses?

Permitted Development Rights allow you to construct an outbuilding that is for a use ‘incidental’ to the main house and for the enjoyment of the occupants of the main house. These permitted development outbuildings cannot generally be used for primary accommodation (space you need to use every day) and cannot be occupied as a separate dwelling.

This generally means that they can’t have a separate kitchen. The planners can ask for details on what you want to use the space for and why you need it. The most common uses include a games room, gym or guest room and ensuite. A study is generally allowed but we have had planners refuse to permit home offices where the client works from home all the time, as that would be considered a primary use, not an incidental use.

How big can my permitted development outbuilding be?

The building cannot be higher than 2.5m if it is alongside the boundary. If it is 2m or more from the boundary, the maximum height to the ridge for a dual pitched roof is 4m or 3m for a flat roof or monopitch roof. This is measured from the highest natural ground level adjacent to the outbuilding. The eaves (where the roof meets the walls) cannot exceed 2.5m high.  This is a single storey building only.

The total area of extensions and outbuildings on your house cannot be larger than 50% of the total garden area.

The outbuilding cannot have a verandah or any type of attached raised platform more than 30cm high around it.

Where can my outbuilding be?

Generally, the building must be to the side or rear of the house. It cannot sit in front of the principal or primary elevation. This is normally the elevation facing the road, but not always. If it is not obvious which is your principal elevation, check with the Local Authority.

There are a restrictions with certain types of properties. If your house is listed or a conversion of a barn or commercial building, a Class E outbuilding would generally not be permitted. In a Conservation Area (or other designated area), the outbuilding can only be behind the house, not to the side.  If your house is in a World Heritage Site, National Park, area of outstanding natural beauty or the Broads, there are further restrictions. It is always best to check with your Local Authority before starting any work.

Do I need a Lawful Development Certificate?

The best way to be sure that your outbuilding is legal is to seek professional advice and/or apply for a Lawful Development Certificate (also called Certificate of Lawfulness) from your local Planning Department. This is a certificate confirming that your proposals comply with the Permitted Development rules and you can proceed without planning permission. What constitutes ‘incidental use’ can be difficult to define, and so this certificate is invaluable not only for your own peace of mind, but in proving you have done everything legally when you sell the house. At the current time, Local Authorities are charging £103 for this certificate.

Does my outbuilding need Building Regulations approval?

Regardless of the need for planning approval, Building Regulations approval may still be required for outbuildings, depending on their size and use.

You would not normally need Building Regulations approval if your outbuilding has an internal footprint of less than 15sqm. If there is no sleeping accommodation in the building, and the building is more than 1m from the boundary or built in non-combustible material, this limit is increased to 30sqm. ‘Non -combustible’ would generally mean masonry construction with a slate or tiled roof, even if the roof rafters are timber.   

Where can I get more information on permitted development outbuildings?

The Government produce a ‘Permitted Development Guide for Householders Technical Guidance‘ booklet which is very helpful. The second link is to their advice on Building Regulations.

If you need further advice and are based in or around the Solihull area, please get in touch for an initial consultation.


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