Do I Need Planning Consent To Make Changes To My Garden?

Shovel in dirt during backyard garden renovations

With more and more people making the most of their outside space, we take a look at whether planning consent is needed to make changes to a garden.

At Lockings Solicitors, we advise homeowners in respect of planning consents and building regulations approval, as well as ensuring that all of the necessary permissions are in place when our clients buy a new home. 

When is planning permission needed for garden alterations?

Many minor works in the garden can be carried out without planning consent and will be classed as permitted development. The rules are quite strict however, and it is important not to stray outside of what is allowed. To ensure you stay on the right side of the law, you need to be aware of the permitted sizes, materials and distances that are allowed within permitted development and whether consent is required for a major change to your garden.

Below are some of the criteria that apply to common garden structures and alterations.

Planning permission requirements for garden offices, sheds and summerhouses

To meet the permitted development rules so that planning consent is not required, if you build in your garden outbuildings such as an office, shed or summerhouse, you need to comply with the following:

  • The new building is not forward of the building line of your home
  • The total area of all outbuildings, to include sheds, does not cover more than 50% of the area of land you have around your house
  • The proposed addition will be single storey and less than 3 metres in height or 4 metres with a dual-pitched roof. If it is within 2 metres of the boundary to your property, then it cannot be higher than 2.5 metres
  • The eaves of the proposed building are no more than 2.5 metres high
  • There is no balcony, veranda or raised platform
  • The addition will not be used as self-contained living accommodation

If you live in a listed building, the rules are far more strict and you will need planning consent and listed building consent for any garden building.

If you live in a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, on the Broads or in a World Heritage Site area, there are also additional restrictions, meaning planning consent is needed for any additions at the side of your property. If a proposed outbuilding will be more than 10 square metres and is further than 20 metres from your home, you will need planning consent.

Planning permission for use of a garden office for your business

If use of your garden office is classed as ‘incidental’ by the local authority, ie. it is only sometimes used for work and is not your main base with clients visiting, then you may not need planning consent.

However, if you will regularly be having clients or customers to your home office, then you will usually need to apply for planning permission. If you do not, then you risk having a visit from planning officers, who could require you to take down the structure. The 4 year rule means that if no-one has complained within 4 years, then the local authority will not generally take action after this time, however you run the risk in the meantime of neighbours objecting.

Planning permission for gardens walls and fences

You are generally allowed to build, maintain or alter a garden fence or wall, provided it does not exceed the size allowed under permitted development rules, as follows:

  • A wall or fence adjacent to the highway cannot exceed 1 metre in height
  • Any other wall, fence or gate cannot exceed 2 metres

If you live in a listed building, you cannot erect a wall or fence without listed building consent.

Planning permission for landscaping alterations or new garden design

You can add lawn, small areas of paving and borders to your garden without the need for consent. 

If you are adding a patio or paving back garden of more than 5 metres square, you need to take into account where water run-off will go. The large amount of paved garden now in existence in England has created a flash flooding problem as well as reducing wildlife habitat and the rules require that water from new paved areas must be able to drain into the ground and not go into the drainage system or onto the pavement or road.

This means that permeable paving should be used or the run-off directed into a border or area laid with chippings or sufficient space left between paving stones so that no run-off accumulates. 

Planning permission for decking

Planning permission for decking is not required, provided that:

  • The area of the proposed decking combined with the area of any extension, outbuilding, platform or shed does not cover more than 50% of the garden 
  • The decking is no more than 30cm above the ground

Planning permission for paving your driveway

In some cases, planning consent is required before you pave a driveway. This is the case if you want to cover more than 5 metres square with non-permeable paving. 

If you plan to access your property in a vehicle across a pavement or footpath you will also need to obtain consent from the local authority. This includes consent for dropping the kerb and also strengthening the pavement if necessary.

Planning permission for a conservatory

A conservatory or extension may not need planning permission, provided that the following applies:

  • No more than 50% of the land around the original house is covered. Any existing extensions must be included in this total, as well as any sheds or other outbuildings
  • The conservatory will not be forward of the building line
  • It will not be at the side of the house where the side of the house faces a road
  • The highest point of the conservatory will not be higher than the highest point of the roof
  • The eaves and ridge are not higher than the existing house
  • The eaves are not more than 3 metres high if they are within 2 metres of the boundary

A conservatory at the side of the house needs planning consent if it is:

  • More than 4 metres in height
  • More than one storey
  • Wider than half of the width of the original house

A conservatory at the rear of the property needs planning consent if it:

  • Extends more than 6 metres beyond the original house, or more than 8 metres where the house is detached
  • More than 4 metres in height

You will require building regulations approval.

If you live in a listed building or conservation area, different rules apply and you should ask your local authority what consents are needed.


Contact our planning solicitors in Beverley, Hull and York.


At Lockings Solicitors, we have a strong understanding of the local planning requirements in East Yorkshire and will be happy to discuss your options with you. We can assist with planning issues, to include applications for retrospective planning consent, appeals if you have been refused permission and resubmissions of planning applications.

If you would have any planning questions or you would like to discuss your case with one of our East Yorkshire legal team, ring us on 01482 300 200, email us at or fill in our contact form and we will call you back promptly for a FREE initial chat.

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