In what were perhaps simpler times, the humble ambition of most homeowners was to have a shed or a greenhouse in the garden. In our more aspirational age, that desire has evolved into summerhouses, garden rooms and even garden offices.

Some of the structures now widely available are stylish, contemporary and ergonomic, with many of the more adventurous designs featuring glass sliding doors, bifold doors or curtain walls of the type we specialise in at Cube Glass.

For example, with the expert guidance of Chris Penman of Stark Structures, I recently built a sun house in my back garden which had a glass front elevation which folded right back to open the room out fully to the open air on balmy summer days.

However, be it a shed to store the garden furniture or a beautiful, modern, hand-crafted and bespoke outdoor garden building, it will be classed for Scottish Government purposes as an “ancillary building” and it is imperative to check if you need planning permission.

Most ancillary buildings do not need a planning permission application, because most meet a set of rules called “permitted development”.

The permitted development rules for an ancillary building are:

  • – It must be located at the back of the house;
  • – It must not be used as a separate home to live in;
  • – It, and any other development, must not take up half or more of the curtilage – this means half or more of the grounds behind your home;
  • – It must not be higher than 4 metres at the highest point;
  • – Any part that’s a metre or less from the boundary should be no higher than 2.5 metres;
  • – The eaves (the part where the wall meets the roof) should be no higher than 3 metres;
  • – If the land is in a conservation area or in the grounds of a listed building, the ancillary building should have a footprint of less than 4 square metres.

Whereas applying for a Certificate of Lawfulness for a permitted development used to be free of charge, the rules were changed in mid-2018 and there is now a need to notify planning departments and a charge of £150 is now levied for the certificate.

This newly-introduced charge was essentially a response by councils to the fact that many small developments were being kept just within the rules and that revenues were diminishing as a result.

While the new cost may seem like an imposition, at least you don’t have to get an architect to create drawings or notify immediate neighbours – with the potential for attracting objections and ending up justifying the project to a planning committee. Remember, you can’t legislate for human nature.

However, if you stay within these guidelines and approach the council in good time and in an open manner, there should be no obstacle to obtaining a Certificate of Lawfulness which would mean, in turn, that you would only need a Building Warrant.

Remember also that structures such as sheds, pods, off-the-shelf garden rooms and summerhouses which do not require foundations are classed as temporary and as a consequence do not need a Building Warrant.

Enjoy your garden! Our dog Coco, pictured, certainly does.

Gary Thorn is Managing Director of Cube Glass.