We have been dealing with planning queries for our home offices since 1998. Initially, there was a lot of misunderstanding, “is it exempted because it’s considered a temporary structure?” – NO, and it’s not temporary. Now there is much more awareness of what is permitted and what is not permitted.
The Planning Act (Statutory Instrument) has provisions for homeowners to undertake a certain amount of development on their property without the requirement of planning permission. The exemptions attempt to strike a balance between the rights of the individual homeowner and the impact of development activities on neighbours and residential communities.
Homeowners are permitted to add a small porch to the front of their house, add an extension to the rear of their house, and build a structure (e.g., a garden room) on their property once certain conditions are met.
Here’s a summary of the garden room/home office allowances and the associated conditions.
You are permitted to build to a maximum of 25 square metres (268 square feet). How big is that? A living room in a semi-detached house will typically be 14-18 SQM whereas a small bedroom will be 6-9 SQM. It’s quite a generous amount of space.
You can’t build forward of the front line of your home (which is normally not feasible in any case). You can put your home office anywhere to the rear of your house. If you have a side garden, you can locate your garden room there but there is an additional condition: The finish of the wall facing the street must conform to the finish on the house.
The maximum height for a pitched roof is 4 metres (about 13 feet) and 3 metres for other types of roofs.
Leave some garden
Wisely you are required to retain some private open space (sometimes referred to as private amenity space), so you can enjoy the open air in the privacy of your own property. The requirement is to retain a minimum of 25 SQM (not a typo, the same size as the maximum Garden room size).
Under exemption, your garden room must be part of the life of the people who live in the house. It can’t be used as a separate dwelling and the language, though a bit old, says the use must be “incidental to the enjoyment of the house”. Additionally, you are not permitted to have a home for pigs or poultry in your garden room!