Do Portable Buildings Need Planning Permission?

Matt Keane
August 8, 2023

Are you thinking of adding a portable building to your property but unsure if planning permission is needed? We've faced the same problem, and upon research realised that many others grapple with the same uncertainty.

This blog will serve as your comprehensive guide for understanding when, why and how planning permissions apply to portable buildings. Stick around - it's time to clear up all those pressing questions!

Understanding Planning Permission for Portable Buildings

In the UK, there are certain structures that do not require planning permission, but when it comes to portable buildings, the rules can be different.

What structures don't require planning permission?

We'd like to guide you through some types of structures that generally don't require planning permission.

  1. Small outbuildings used for gardening or storage, if they are only single storey and occupy less than 50% of the total garden space.
  2. Incidental buildings like sheds and summerhouses which are not intended for accommodation or business.
  3. Fences, gates or walls within specified height limits and not fronting a road.
  4. Decking platforms under a certain size.
  5. Portable structures used for short - term events or construction sites as these aren't intended for permanent usage.
  6. Temporary classrooms in schools, provided they don't exceed a certain size and are removed after their planned use.

When is planning permission required?

Planning permission is required for portable buildings in certain circumstances. The need for planning permission depends on local regulations and how the building will be used. If the portable building is intended for permanent use or if it will be in place for an extended period of time, planning permission may be necessary.

However, temporary structures used for short-term events or construction sites might not require planning permission. Factors such as the size and location of the building can also affect whether planning permission is needed.

To ensure compliance with regulations, it's important to consult with the local planning authority before starting any portable building project.

How to apply for planning permission for portable buildings?

Applying for planning permission for portable buildings is a straightforward process. Here are the steps involved:

  1. Research local regulations: Familiarize yourself with the planning regulations and policies of your local planning authority.
  2. Consult with professionals: Seek advice from architects or planning consultants to ensure compliance with planning regulations.
  3. Prepare application documents: Gather all necessary documents, such as plans, site maps, and any additional information required by the local planning authority.
  4. Complete the application form: Fill out the application form provided by the local planning authority, providing accurate and detailed information about your portable building project.
  5. Pay the application fee: Pay any applicable fees associated with submitting a planning permission application for your portable building project.
  6. Submit the application: Send your completed application form and supporting documents to the local planning authority either online or by mail.
  7. Wait for a decision: The local planning authority will review your application and make a decision within a specified timeframe.
  8. Respond to queries or objections: If there are any queries or objections raised during the assessment process, provide timely responses and address any concerns raised.
  9. Obtain approval or permission: If granted planning permission, you can proceed with your portable building project according to the approved plans and conditions set by the local planning authority.

Factors to Consider When Applying for Planning Permission

When applying for planning permission for portable buildings, homeowners should consider factors such as the size and location of the building, its impact on the surrounding area, and compliance with building regulations.

Building size and location

When considering the need for planning permission for a portable building, factors such as its size and location come into play. The size of the structure can determine whether or not it falls under permitted development rights, which would exempt it from requiring planning permission.

Additionally, the location of the building is important as it may impact surrounding areas and could be subject to zoning laws or other regulations specific to that area. It's crucial to consult with your local planning authority to determine if planning permission is necessary based on these factors.

Impact on the surrounding area

When considering the placement of a portable building, it is important to take into account its impact on the surrounding area. The size and location of the building can have effects on factors such as traffic flow, visual aesthetics, and noise levels.

It is essential to ensure that the proposed portable building will not disrupt or negatively affect the neighborhood or community. By carefully assessing these potential impacts, homeowners can make informed decisions and create harmonious surroundings for both themselves and their neighbors.

Compliance with building regulations

When constructing or installing a portable building, it is crucial to ensure compliance with building regulations. These regulations are in place to guarantee the safety, quality, and efficiency of buildings.

They cover various aspects such as fire safety, structural integrity, accessibility, and energy efficiency. It is important to consult with professionals like architects or planning consultants who can guide you through the process and help you adhere to these regulations.

Failing to comply with building regulations can lead to serious consequences, including enforcement actions and potential fines. Therefore, it is essential to prioritize compliance when considering the construction or installation of a portable building.

Process and Timeline for Obtaining Planning Permission

Curious about the process and timeline for obtaining planning permission? We break it down step by step, so you can understand what to expect when applying for permission for your portable building.

How long does planning permission for a portable building take?

The timeline for obtaining planning permission for a portable building can vary depending on various factors. It typically takes between 8 to 13 weeks, but it may take longer if there are any complications or objections.

It is important to factor in this time when considering the construction or installation of a portable building and to plan accordingly. The process involves submitting an application, paying a fee, and complying with all necessary requirements set by the local planning authority.

Seeking professional advice from architects or planning consultants can help ensure a smooth and timely approval process.

Steps involved in the application process

Applying for planning permission for a portable building involves several steps. First, research the specific regulations and policies of your local planning authority. Next, consult with architects or planning consultants to ensure compliance with these regulations. Then, prepare the necessary documentation for your application, which may include drawings, site plans, and supporting statements. Submit your application along with the required fee to the planning authority. Finally, await a decision from the planning authority regarding your application.


In conclusion, the need for planning permission for portable buildings depends on various factors such as their intended use, duration of placement, and compliance with local regulations.

It is important to consult with the local planning authority and seek professional advice to ensure compliance and avoid any potential enforcement actions or fines.

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