In the UK, the allure of adding a shed to your property is strong. It's not just a storage space; it's an opportunity to create a garden office, a workshop, or a cosy retreat. However, before you start dreaming about your ideal shed and heading down to your local DIY store, it's crucial to understand the rules around planning permission. The good news is that in many cases, you won't need it, but there are specific guidelines you must follow.

Understanding Permitted Development Rights

In the UK, permitted development rights allow homeowners to make certain modifications and additions to their property without needing to apply for planning permission. These rights cover various building works, including the addition of sheds, but there are limits and conditions.

The Limits for Sheds

The limits set out by permitted development rights for outbuildings, including sheds, are quite generous but need careful consideration:

  1. No more than half the area of land around the "original house" can be covered by additions or other buildings. The term "original house" refers to the property as it was first built or as it stood on 1 July 1948 (if it was built before that date).
  2. Height Restrictions: A shed within two metres of a property boundary cannot exceed 2.5 metres in height. However, for those positioned more than two metres from the boundary, eaves height should not exceed 2.5 metres, while the overall height can go up to 4 metres for a dual-pitched roof, or 3 metres for any other type of roof.
  3. Design and Appearance: The shed should not be forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway.
  4. Size Matters: For detached houses, if your shed is more than 2 metres from the property boundary, the footprint can be up to 15 square metres without needing planning permission. If you wish to have a building larger than 15 square metres but not exceeding 30 square metres, it must also be a minimum of 1 metre from any boundary.
  5. Usage: The use of the shed should be incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwelling house. This means it cannot be lived in, used as a separate dwelling, or used for business if it involves retail or selling.

Special Considerations

  • Listed Buildings: If your home is a listed building, you will need listed building consent for any significant works, whether internal or external.
  • Designated Land: Planning permissions are stricter in designated areas such as National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas, and World Heritage Sites. In these areas, it's more likely you'll need planning permission for your shed.


The dream of building a substantial shed without entangling yourself in the web of planning applications is achievable. By staying within the guidelines of permitted development rights, most homeowners in the UK can add a large, functional, and potentially beautiful shed to their property without needing planning permission. However, it's always wise to check with your local planning authority if you're unsure about any of the rules or if you think your project might be borderline. They can offer guidance tailored to your specific situation, ensuring that your shed project doesn't run into legal issues down the line.

Remember, while these rules offer a good guide, they are subject to change and can vary slightly between different local authorities in the UK. Therefore, keeping up to date with the latest regulations and seeking advice when needed will ensure that your shed can be built without a hitch.