NAPC Information for Garden Rooms and Annexes

Garden rooms

A popular question that is often asked is can I erect a garden room in my rear garden without planning permission.

In summary, if the garden room is deemed to be ‘incidental’ in planning terms it may be erected under Class E Permitted Development Rights. This means it will not be necessary to obtain planning permission, however, must meet the rules relating to outbuildings.

Class E of the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 (as amended), provides permitted development rights within the curtilage of a house for:

  1. any building or enclosure, swimming or other pool required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such, or the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of such a building or enclosure; or
  2. a container used for domestic heating purposes for the storage of oil or liquid petroleum

Development is not permitted by Class E if:

  • the total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and containers within the curtilage (other than the original dwellinghouse) would exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage (excluding the ground area of the original dwellinghouse)
  • any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse
  • the building would have more than one storey
  • the height of the building, enclosure or container would exceed –
    • 4 metres in the case of a building with a dual-pitched roof,
    • (ii) 5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure or container within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse, or
    • (iii) 3 metres in any other case
  • the height of the eaves of the building would exceed 5 metres
  • the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated within the curtilage of a listed building
  • it would include the construction or provision of a veranda, balcony or raised platform
  • it relates to a dwelling or a microwave antenna

In the case of any land within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse which is within –

  • World Heritage Site
  • a National Park
  • an area of outstanding natural beauty or
  • the Broads,

development is not permitted by Class E if the total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures, pools and containers situated more than 20 metres from any wall of the dwellinghouse would exceed 10 square metres.

In the case of any land within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse which is article 2(3) land, which includes;

  • Conservation Areas
  • An area of outstanding natural beauty
  • an area specified by the Secretary of State for the purposes of section 41(3) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (enhancement and protection of the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside)
  • the Broads;
  • a National Park; and
  • World Heritage Site

Development is not permitted by Class E if any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land between a wall forming a side elevation of the dwellinghouse and the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse.

You will also need to ensure that your property benefits from permitted development rights, sometimes these can be removed on new build estates, by a previous planning application on site or an article 4 assigned by the local planning authority.

If you believe your outbuilding falls within the development limits outlined above but would like confirmation from the Council that this is the case, you can apply for a Certificate of Lawfulness application to confirm the outbuilding is ‘lawful’.

Can I build an annexe under permitted development rights?

Permitted development (PD) allows householders to improve and extend their houses without full planning permission. However, there are limitations on the height, size, type, and location of structures built under PD, and limitations on the use.

Class E permitted development allows development within the ‘curtilage’ of a house, providing these comply with certain design limits and the use is for purposes ‘incidental’ to the enjoyment of the house. So, this could mean anything from garden store to a gym, swimming pool enclosure, art studio, cinema, hobby room or even somewhere to keep animals.

It can’t be for a purpose ‘ancillary’ to the main house, which is what a self-contained annexe with bedroom, bathroom and living room would count as.

What is an annexe?

An annexe is a self-contained living space that is typically built on the same property as a family home. It is designed to provide independent accommodation for a family member, such as a grandparent or aging parent, son or daughter while still allowing them to be close to their loved ones.

Annexes are often smaller, detached, one-story dwellings that include essential living areas such as a bedroom, bathroom, living room, and kitchenette. They can be specifically designed to meet the needs of elderly individuals, taking into consideration accessibility and safety features like grab bars, wheelchair ramps, and wider doorways.

These annexes offer several advantages, including allowing older family members to maintain their independence while still being near their relatives for support and companionship. They can provide a sense of privacy and autonomy while offering easy access to family members when needed.

Do I need planning permission for my annexe?

The simple answer is yes. As soon as you introduce sleeping accommodation into an outbuilding it is no longer regarded as “incidental” (benefitting from permitted development rights) but rather “ancillary.”

An annexe is an outbuilding, specifically designed to provide accommodation that is classified as ‘ancillary’ to a main dwelling house. ‘Ancillary’ in planning terms, means that the building is subordinate to the main house, but still provides some but not all the following ‘primary living accommodation’; a bedroom(s), kitchen, bathroom and/or a living room.

To be considered ancillary and not a separate planning unit, it should generally embody the following characteristics:

  • Be ‘subservient’ (or lesser) in scale to the main house e. it must be substantially smaller
  • Not be of a scale that could constitute a new, independent dwelling
  • Share vehicular access and parking facilities
  • Be within the residential curtilage of the main house and share the same address
  • Have an element of functional connection to the main building (such as shared water, sewage connections, internet, and TV accounts, or the occupant should be a dependent relative of the residents of the main dwelling or be employed at the main dwelling)
  • Be for use by the same family as the main dwelling house
  • Located in close proximity to the main dwelling

How do I get planning for my annexe?

There are two main routes for achieving an annexe within your garden. This can be done by submitting a householder planning application for an annexe or by using the Caravan Act and applying for a certificate of lawfulness.

Planning Application – Annexe

Planning permission for granny annexes is applied for through your Local Planning Authority and ideally needs to be obtained before you start your project as there may be conditions attached to your permission or it may be declined.

In most cases the Householder Application route to apply for permission is the most straightforward and robust method.

Certificate of lawfulness – Mobile Home

Mobile homes can be a good alternative to an annexe where it could prove difficult to obtain planning permission. This is because a mobile home, as long as it complies with the statutory definition (Caravan Act) for a mobile home, does not require formal planning permission.

What is a mobile home?

The Caravan Sites Act 1968 was introduced to protect the rights of caravan site occupants – which isn’t relevant to most homeowners, but Section 29 of the Act clearly defines what constitutes a
caravan or mobile home.

There are three clear tests that a structure needs to meet to be considered a mobile home or caravan, that is the size test, mobility test and construction test.

There is lots of poor advice and misinformation surrounding the Caravan Act, therefore some Local Planning Authorities may try to object to your building, especially if complaints have been received.

Therefore, we always recommend that a certificate of lawfulness is obtained to ensure that what is proposed meets the definition of a mobile home and is therefore lawful.

Planning applications process

NAPC will review all local planning policies and guidance as well as case law and appeal precedents that will support your project.

The whole application will be presented to the local planning authority in a thorough, clear, professional, and effective manner to make it easy for the LPA to understand the positive benefits of the proposal and how it complies with planning policy.

Your case will be regularly monitored and assessed at various stages and in the unlikely event of any challenges, NAPC will negotiate with the LPA to give the application the best chance of success.

Planning applications on average take 10 weeks from submission to obtaining a decision, however, this can vary from council to council.

For more information contact us or visit the NAPC website.

or call us on 01483 768273