Urban Landscapes



What Planning Permission Do You Need for Upgrades to Your Outdoor Areas?

If you’re thinking of making improvements to the outdoor areas of your home, it’s vital that you check whether what you want to do is going to need planning permission or not. You might think that you’ll only be doing something straightforward, but those seemingly minor outside works could have a significant adverse effect on the appearance of your local area, especially in urban districts and even more so in conservation areas.

If you do something without getting the right permissions, your local council would be well within its rights to make you restore whatever you did to its former condition, all at your own expense.

This article will examine some popular outdoor upgrades to discover whether you’re likely to need planning permission before going ahead with them.

Outdoor Gyms, Offices and Other Buildings

Most outdoor buildings can be constructed under permitted development rights, but you shouldn’t just assume this. Check with your council before doing anything, because you might just find that your situation is one of the exceptions.

The general rule of thumb is that unattached single-storey outdoor buildings to the rear of a property are classed as ‘outbuildings’ and therefore don’t need planning permission. However, this is not always the case; for example, if you install plumbing that could lead to the building being classed as self-contained accommodation, then you will almost certainly need to get permission. An office that only you use is likely to be fine, while one that is used for meetings with clients and colleagues may be a problem. The size of your outdoor room could also be significant.

Basically, the issue is generally going to be whether your outdoor room is likely to be disruptive to your neighbours or others in the local community.

Incidentally, when it comes to Building Regulations, you don’t need to comply with these either if your outdoor room doesn’t include sleeping facilities, is smaller than 15 square feet and is not attached to your main residence.

Outdoor Kitchens

As with the above outdoor spaces, you shouldn’t need planning permission if you want to add an outdoor kitchen to your property. This is mainly because it’s unlikely to be a permanent structure. However, once more there are exceptions and again these are probably going to depend on how your addition impacts your neighbours.

For example, if your outdoor kitchen is going to be within two metres of a neighbour’s property, you can’t go above 2.5 metres in height.


As electric cars become more common, more people with space at the front of their properties are going to want to have a driveway to enable easier charging. If you don’t have a driveway and currently park on the road outside your home, you might think that installing a new one will be doing everyone a favour and that nobody is likely to object. 

Generally, a new driveway on an existing property will be allowed under permitted development rights, but there are exceptions you could easily be caught out by. For instance, if your home was converted from commercial use under permitted development rights (something that will become increasingly common as the government eases such planning restrictions), then you cannot make further alterations under permitted development rights.

Permitted development rights also do not apply to those living in flats, maisonettes and apartments.

If you want to widen your driveway, there are a couple of extra things to consider. For starters, will you need to drive over more of the pavement in order to access it? If you will, then you’ll need to get permission to get the pavement dropped. Secondly, will your driveway be more than five square metres and will it have a permeable surface?

With all new and adapted driveways, it’s always best to check with an expert or your local council before getting started.


As with driveways, adding new fencing seems on the surface like something that is unlikely to trouble anyone, but you do need to be careful, especially when it comes to its height. 

Generally, you only need to get planning permission for a new fence if it is going to be more than two metres high, including any trellis at the top. However, if your fence will be adjacent to a highway used by vehicles or next to a highway footpath, the maximum height you can go to without permission is only one metre.

The other thing you need to be careful about is how close you place it next to a neighbour’s boundary and whether its height is going to impact on their property.

In all the above cases, you’re going to be faced with more restrictions on what you can do if you live in either a listed building or a conservation area.

It’s always best not to take chances when it comes to planning permission, as the financial repercussions of getting it wrong could be substantial. Here at Urban Landscape Design and Construction, we’re used to managing all kinds of outside home improvement projects and can help and advise with any aspects of planning permission that might be necessary.

If you’d like help transforming your garden in Cobham, Ascot, and Esher, or elsewhere in West London and Surrey, please get in touch with us today.


By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, assist in our marketing efforts, and for personalised advertising.

More Information Accept All Cookies