“Do I need planning permission for my shepherd’s hut?”
It’s a popular question for budding shepherd’s hut owners and those wanting to start a shepherd’s hut business venture.
Because a shepherd’s hut can be such a versatile space there isn’t a categorical ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.
A shepherd’s hut can be used for both private and commercial use, whilst at the same time it can be fully transportable or used as a more permanent structure. The different connotations and possibilities mean the answer to the planning permission question all depends on your individual circumstances.
As a disclaimer, I am in no way a planning expert. Before you buy or make and position the hut, it’s always best to investigate the rules and regulations in your local area first to see whether you need planning permission. Contact your local council planning office or get help from a planning consultant if your situation is a little more complex.
Planning basics for a shepherd’s hut
To give you a clear answer, the shepherd’s hut itself will not require planning permission to build.
You’ll need to put it somewhere though, and it’s here where things can get a little murkier. It all depends on how you intend to use the hut and where you want to put it.
When it comes to planning basics, whenever you undertake the building of something (an operational development) you will need to show you either have: 1) Permitted development rights; or 2) You’ll need planning permission.
Permitted development rights (PDR) are an automatic grant of rights allowing you to make certain changes to a building without the need to apply for any form of planning consent. You’ll need to investigate what these ‘certain changes’ are to see whether you can implement your plans. If your building or development doesn’t fit within the PDR, then you need to apply for planning permission.
For a shepherd’s hut, let’s try and simplify the answer to the planning permission question.
This largely comes down to how you intend to use of the shepherd’s hut space.
If you’re planning to place the hut in your private garden for your own personal use, you more than likely won’t need permission. If you’re planning to use the hut for commercial purposes, it’s more than likely that you’ll need some form of planning permission.
Below is a rough rule of thumb for common scenarios. Please note though, individual circumstances, particularly to do with the dwelling, may affect your scenario:
|Scenario||Planning permission required?|
|Personal/domestic use, in a private garden||No, not generally needed|
|Personal/domestic use, on agricultural/farmland||Yes, likely to be required for ‘change of use’|
|Personal/domestic use, in a National Park/AONB/next to a listed property||Yes, permission likely to be required|
|Commercial use, on private land||Yes, likely to be required|
|Temporary/seasonal commercial use, on private land||Planning permission may not be required, however planning exemption licence will be required|
Without wanting to over-simplify the situation, use the above as a rough guide. The best bet is to query your situation with your local planning office. Rules and regulations can, and do, change from region to region, so enquiring at the beginning of your project will save you from retrospective actions and any potential hot water further down the line.
The below aims to shed a little more light on different scenarios.
Do shepherd’s huts need planning permission?
> Planning permission for personal use
As a generic rule, placing a shepherd’s hut in a private domestic garden for your own personal use generally won’t require any sort of planning permission. For example, you might be planning to use the hut as a garden office, writing retreat, chill out zone or something similar for your (or your family’s) own personal use.
A garden building will be considered ‘permitted development’, so long as size certain restrictions are met.
For example, the building must be single storey with eaves to a maximum height of 2.5m and a maximum overall height of 4m for a dual pitched roof or 3m for any other roof. If the building is within 2m of a boundary, the maximum height it can be is 2.5m. More info here on planningportal.co.uk.
For your hut there shouldn’t be any issues here regarding consent as the hut is acting as a non-permanent addition to the main property and is not a self-contained full-time unit.
That being said, if you live in a National Park, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), a site of Special Scientific Interest or your home is a listed property, the requirements may be different and you may well have to get some form of permission.
If you intend to live in a self-contained shepherd’s hut full time, then it’s likely you will need some form of planning permission as it’s no longer just an addition to a main home and it will be inhabited on a full-time basis. If you like the idea of living in a shepherd’s hut, read this blog to see if it could suit you.
> Planning permission for commercial use
If you’re planning on using your shepherd’s hut for commercial purposes – for example as a holiday let, treatment room or catering facility – it’s likely that you will need planning permission.
As a shepherd hut can be fully mobile, it does throw a little spanner in the works. Some people may argue that the hut can be moved and in a sense can be treated like a tent or caravan. There is a 28 day rule for temporary structures but all rules and regulations of GPDO Part 4 (General Permitted Development Order for Temporary Buildings and Uses).
Remember, it’s always to do with the actual land rather than the structure.
Although your hut may be fully moveable, it’s likely that you won’t move it that often. It’s more likely than not to be used as a ‘permanent’ structure, which stands in the same spot (or ‘planning unit’) and is used for more than 28 days of the year. If so, you will need planning permission.
If your hut is connected to plumbing infrastructure or has a septic tank, it makes your ‘mobile’ hut much more permanent, particularly in the eyes of the authorities. With this in mind, you will also have to abide by the Environmental Agency guidelines to ensure watercourses are protected. Having self-sufficient amenities, such as a composting toilet, may help the need to attach to the grid.
There is also such thing as exemption for Caravan and Camping certified sites, allowing up to five tents/caravans/shepherd’s huts or other glamping accommodation type. This exemption covers the pitches only. So if you have a permanent toilet block or kitchen facilities, you’ll need planning permission. If you have over five pitches, you’ll require planning permission. If this accommodation will be used for more than 28 days of the year, even if it is seasonal, you’ll then also require planning permission.
Can I put a shepherd’s hut on agricultural land?
Through permitted development rights, you can generally change the use of land from agriculture to something else for up to 28 days of the year without having to seek planning consent. Anything that occurs for more than 28 days, however, will require specific permission from the local authorities.
Changing the use of land on a full time basis is a common method of approach. This is especially common for spare agricultural land where the owner is wanting to position a shepherd’s hut.
If you are planning to set up a permanent shepherd’s hut holiday rental on a patch of farmland or using your land to set up another commercial business, you’ll need to apply for a change of land use to inform the local authorities of your plans. At the time of writing, application for a change of use costs £462 and can take 8 weeks to be approved. This can be an in-depth topic however, so do seek professional advice to make sure.
What happens when I don’t get planning permission?
The good news is, if your planning permission is approved, it lasts for three years.
Before you submit any application make sure all the basics are covered, such as good access to site, access to a service, proximity to buildings etc.
If your planning gets rejected, your local authority will always give you reasons behind the decision, which may allow you to alter your plans accordingly and resubmit your application. If you’ve got a complicated case and aren’t sure what to do, get in touch with a planning consultant who’ll be able to help you with the application.
It’s not against the law to breach or fail to comply with planning permission. If this is done accidental, or where no harm is caused, the local council will often permit a retrospective application.
However, if the breach involves a previously rejected development, or you’ve been considered to have broken the planning control rules, which means what you’ve done is harmful in some way to the neighbourhood, you can be served an enforcement notice. Note, it is illegal to violate an enforcement notice (unless appealed against successfully), which means you have to put things back to how they were originally.
The often decisive issue for the local planning office is whether the permission breach unacceptably affects a public amenity or the existing use of land and building merits protection in the public interest. You can appeal against permission refusals and enforcement notices, but if you fail and still refuse to accept the notice or decision, you may be prosecuted.
Extra Reading on planning permission
Please do note that I am not legally qualified to give official advice on planning permission.
This blog is aimed to inform and give general information. For official advice please see the below links and contact a legally qualified planning permission expert.