Was planning permission needed for this garden office?

Thanks for all the further responses! Martgunner, I believe the issue here is that we're in a conservation area subject to Article 4. That is why there is a distinction between flats and houses. Building a home office is not a permitted development in the case of a flat, whereas it would be for a house.
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No there is no distinction between flats and houses...its a home with a garden which are all are allowed outbuildings...its just a shed in planning. It only becomes something else when you sleep in it or have a bathroom fitted...

There is a big difference between flats and houses in planning law. One has PD rights, one does not.
Unfortunately, when it comes to shared gardens there can often be challenges. For example one person/family might use their space more dominantly e.g. out there a lot, people having bbq's etc. This can discourage the less dominant people/families from using their spaces. Not saying it's right however that's often the way it is.

When you say your kitchen's on the second floor, do you mean two floors up i.e. ground floor, first floor then second floor (kitchen)? If yes, surely they can't see that much of what's going on if they're in a ground floor office? Unless your rooms have longer windows i.e. that go closer to floor level but even then.

You could always cover the bottom third of the glass with something like this?

It's a long, slightly thin garden that is split into two private gardens, with the rear garden having their own side-door and (practically unused) pathway. The front half of the garden belongs to the leasehold house, the back half to the council tenants. So the council tenants are free to do whatever they want in their section, but they may feel they are encroaching on their neighbours' privacy by accessing it. Immigrant council tenants vs. well-off private leaseholders may be a factor, too.

We're on a slope so the levels are slightly off-kilter. My kitchen is on the first floor, but at a height that really it feels like second. The 'ground' floor below me is some distance above ground level. And the lowest, 'lower ground' level, is just a few feet below the level of the side return.

I doubt I can be seen in much of my kitchen but certainly when I'm at the sink. Yes, covering the lowest panes of my sash window seems the best solution as far as the impact on me is concerned. A bottom-up blind would look nicest I think.
By the way it's surely not taller than 2.5 metres and it's not used to sleep in, so those wouldn't be issues here.
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No there is no distinction between flats and houses...its a home with a garden which are all are allowed outbuildings...its just a shed in planning. It only becomes something else when you sleep in it or have a bathroom fitted...
Err say what?
Well its pretty simple any garden can have a shed...there is no distinction between a flat with a garden and a house with a garden. Any home office is a shed...its the use of a building that defines its planning requirement. does a potting shed need planning...no because its use is ancillary to the main home. Does a summer house need planning no, you can sit in it a write a book does that make it part of your home..no Is a shed first put up for a bike store now in need of planning because you build a model railway in it...no.

Use defines planning requirement... these two rules define what you can build as an outbuilding ..its the use that matters and in planning its overnight sleeping thats the big one.

  • Your shed should not be positioned forward of a wall that forms the principal elevation of the property.
  • All sheds should be single-storey in nature.
  • The eaves height should be no higher than 2.5 metres.
  • The maximum overall height should be no higher than 4 metres for a dual pitch roof (all other roof options have a max height of 3 metres).
  • If the shed stands less than 2 metres from one or more boundaries of the property, the overall height should not exceed 2.5 metres.
  • In the case of designated land, planning permission will still be required.
  • In the case of land in national parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and similar sites, any sheds or similar structures over 20 metres away from the house cannot take up more than 10 square metres.
  • In the case of a listed building of any kind, planning permission will be required.
It is also important to note your shed should not be designed to provide sleeping accommodation. Any building that essentially marks a change of use for the property should be looked into in more detail.

A shed with a floor space of less than 15 square metres would not normally have to comply with building regulations if it does not contain sleeping accommodation. Some restrictions do apply to sheds between 15 and 30 square metres. Of course normal safety standards have to be adhered to, particularly regarding any electrical connections.
@martygturner I think there are a couple of comments needed - a flat and a house are different because flats don't have permitted development rights https://www.planningportal.co.uk/permission/common-projects/flats-and-maisonettes/introduction as @^woody^ said a few posts up.

Also, the use of a building built with PD must be incidental to the main use of the property, not ancillary - the terms have different planning meanings, and ancillary includes everything you would normally do in a house, including sleeping. https://www.annexeplanning.co.uk/ne...e-difference-between-incidental-and-ancillary

edit, and just as an aside I have just got PP for a garden room. Although I described the planned use as summerhouse, hobby room, I also used the word "ancillary" in a design statement and the PP has come through granting unqualified "ancillary use", which I am very pleased about as we will prob use it as an emergency bedroom occasionally...........
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A shed does not need permitted development...its a shed....sorry but pd applies to the flat not the garden...a garden can have a shed....without pd rights because none apply....you are not building a shed under any pd rights because you just don't need them.......again the rules are when a shed stops being a shed and needs planning...and you have not built a shed have you you have built a garden room...again most outside structures are controlled by size and use...a simple 3x4m garden shed that is used as an office is what...a garden shed.
" Outbuildings are considered to be permitted development" opening line....., This is not saying its bound by permitted development rights...its saying that its considered to be a permitted development at all times unless it contravenes the list or is used as something else that needs planning approval either by planning application or by lawful development that has been granted under pd rights....

Think about it this way...do you need a planning application or some PD rights to build a shed on an allotment or small holding or a field shelter on grazing...answer no...because there is NO planning requirement to do so...so its permitted at all times and therefore cannot be removed because it was never there in the first place it is always lawful development.

a flat has no permitted development rights ...you cannot add a loft conversion, you cannot build a balcony, but the garden of a flat does not have any rights to be removed...its just a garden and therefore falls outside of the flats lack of pd rights and comes under open spaces...which allows for the building of sheds as lawfulful in all circumstances unless they move out side of the requirements of use and size and location.

Just for completeness, a houses permitted development rights applies only to the house and its development...not its gardens, where you have the lawful right ( not granted under pd rights) just the right, to add outbuildings or structures according to the rules on outbuildings and how they sit in the landscape...not forward of the existing building, not over 2.5m if closer to a boundary...blah blah blah....

I suppose the the easiest way to think about it is this...a house has permitted development rights to extended itself into its garden...a flat does not..however a garden has no permitted development rights as its not a flat or house its just land and on land you can put up a shed as there is no law stopping you unless of course a law has been enacted for that very purpose..eg national parks or it falls outside of the definition of a shed or other structure by is use or size or location and then requires Planning permission.

You have added a garden room that can be slept in...so its needs permission as it falls outside of lawful development.
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You think what you like. Every info site confirms the same thing.

"Outbuildings such as garden sheds, greenhouses, ponds, but also swimming pools, kennels and summer houses, as well as containers used for domestic heating purposes all benefit from permitted development rights when located within the curtilage of a house."

"Permitted development rights under Part 1 of the GPDO only apply to houses – they do not apply to flats, maisonettes or other buildings. "
May I leap back in to say that, to my enormous relief, the neighbours who built the garden office all-of-a-sudden sold up and moved out, about a month ago.

When the nice new neighbour introduced himself, I couldn't help but say "Do you realise there's a planning issue with your garden office?"

He said "Oh, the shed?" and that no there wasn''t, he had looked into it during the purchase process.

It was really the old neighbours that bothered me, since among their other annoying habits they would leave their dog barking in the garden for hours while they used the office. I hardly notice it at all now.

Still, would be interesting if it did turn out that it does need retrospective permission after all!
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No there is no distinction between flats and houses...its a home with a garden which are all are allowed outbuildings...its just a shed in planning. It only becomes something else when you sleep in it or have a bathroom fitted...
By all means, carry on back pedalling, but in planning terms flats and houses (and their amenities) remain fundamentally distinct.

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