Do you need planning permission for temporary buildings in the UK?

Navigating the minefield of stringent rules and regulations of the construction industry can be a daunting prospect even for the simplest of structures and the most experienced contractors, but how do these rules affect the construction of temporary buildings and planning permission for temporary buildings?

Here at Mar-Key Group, we have decades of experience delivering a wide range of impressive semi-permanent structures for all kinds of industries and events, so we know which tests, permissions and plans are required to transform a temporary building from just an idea into a reliable reality.

Below, we take a look at which structures are classed as temporary buildings as well as which semi-permanent structures will require planning permission. Finally, we explore how you can obtain temporary structure planning permission to make this process as simple and straightforward as possible.

Which structures can be classed as temporary?

Temporary buildings can refer to a wide range of semi-permanent structures including tents, trailers, cabins, a temporary warehouse and even more substantial buildings made from materials like steel or PVC. Unsuitable for long-term use, temporary structure solutions, are designed for only short-term use – often remaining in place for only a matter of days, weeks or months.

Below, we explore some of the various temporary structures available at Mar-Key Group to give you an idea of what semi-permanent buildings really look like. Instead of flimsy storage tents that are most commonly associated with temporary structures, our temporary buildings could easily be mistaken for the permanent alternative, with some staying in place for years.

Do temporary buildings require planning permission?

According to official Government guidance, a general rule for temporary buildings planning permission states that planning permission is required for structures that need to remain in place for more than 28 days and/or are bigger than 200m².

Planning permission will also be required for temporary buildings that come closer then 5m to the boundary of your site, as well as those buildings where the floor area of said building exceeds 25% of the total available area on your site. Or, in the case of temporary building extensions, it exceeds 25% of the original building floor area.

While not all temporary structures will require temporary planning permission, in most circumstances, we recommend making a planning application or at least seeking professional advice. At Mar-Key Group, we work closely with planning consultants and can refer you to our preferred contacts for your peace of mind.

Do temporary structures need to abide by building regulations?

According to planning application service, Planning Portal, there is a distinct difference between building regulations and planning permission in the UK. While building regulations refer to the set health and safety standards for the construction and design of buildings, planning permission aims to assess the impact that a building will have on the surrounding environment.

Often, permission is needed for both processes depending on the purpose and facilities within a permanent building (building regulations and planning), but this is often not the case for a temporary structure.

While planning permission is typically not required for temporary buildings that are smaller than 100m² and/or those that are designed to remain in place for less than 28 days, they will still be subject to building regulations. However, depending on the function of the temporary building, it may be exempt from some parts of the building regulations.

It is important to acknowledge these are separate regimes that do not impact each other.

In the event that your temporary structure does not comply with the relevant building regulations, you could be asked to remove the contravening work – a costly and time-consuming undertaking.

If you are unsure or would like a professional opinion, it is always wise to contact your Local Planning Authority (LPA), building control body or council to ensure that your application is accurate.

Which buildings are exempt from building regulations?

As mentioned above, temporary buildings that are smaller than 100m² and/or are designed to remain in place for less than 28 days, do not need planning permission and may be exempt from some building regulations.

Other buildings that do not need planning permission can be found under ‘permitted development rights’- these rights allow works and changes to be carried out without planning permission. There are also other types of buildings that are also exempt from building regulations. This includes:

Buildings controlled under other legislation – This can include buildings that are granted a licence under the Manufacture and Storage of Explosives Regulations 2005, those with a licence under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965, and those that are included in the schedule of monuments maintained under section 1 of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

Buildings not frequented by people – Refers to a detached building where people do not normally visit, or they are only permitted to enter intermittently to inspect or maintain machinery within.

However, this exemption does not apply to buildings where any point of that building is less than one and a half times its height from either any point of a building into which people can or do normally go, or the nearest point of the boundary of the curtilage of that building (whichever is nearer).

Greenhouses and agricultural buildings – Subject to further stipulations, this refers to a building used to house agriculture or animals and is not used as a dwelling. It can be used for horticulture, growing fruit and even fish farming.

Ancillary buildings – This refers to a building based on a site, such as a construction, mining or civil engineering works site, that is only designed to be used during the course of work being completed. It must not contain a dwelling or be used as sleeping accommodation.

Small detached buildings – Subject to additional stipulations, small detached buildings that are exempt from building regulations includes buildings that are single storey, have a floor space that is less than 30m2, and have no sleeping accommodation.

Small detached buildings with a smaller floor area of 15m2 are subject to no additional stipulations, but they must not contain sleeping accommodation. This exemption also covers (with some conditions) small detached buildings with a floor space less than 30m2 if their purpose is to shelter people from the effects of a nuclear, chemical or conventional weapon.

Extensions – While not a separate building, extensions to buildings can also be exempt where the floor area is less than 30m2 and that any glazing, where necessary, satisfies the requirements of Part N of Schedule 1. Extension exemptions include ground level conservatories, porches, covered yards, and covered ways, as well as carports that are open on at least two sides.

How to obtain planning permission for a temporary structure

Once you’ve determined whether your temporary structure actually requires planning permission, if necessary, you can begin the application process. To support with your application and ensure you are well-equipped for this potentially complicated process, we’ve amassed plenty of helpful tips and advice below.

Start the application early

While it is possible to submit a planning permission application retrospectively (in emergency cases), it is always best to submit the application as early as you can. By giving yourself plenty of time, you can ensure that there are no problems with your application. The determination period’ is usually 8 weeks for minor development (<1000m2) and 13 weeks for major development (>1000m2).

Starting your application as soon as possible therefore allows you to begin the construction of your temporary building as soon as you’re granted approval. In urgent cases, local councils are known for granting retrospective planning permission.

However, it’s worth taking into consideration that if they decide not to grant your project approval, you could be asked to remove it. Not only will this cost you time and money, but it will also land you back in the same place you started and create a big inconvenience for your business.

Do your research

Before you even begin the planning permission application, it’s important to do your research and find out which planning applications have been accepted previously by your LPA. Speaking to neighbouring businesses as well as parish and district councils can also provide you with an idea of whether your proposal is likely to be accepted or not.

Contact your LPA

Once you’re ready to make an application, you’ll need to reach out to your LPA via your local council. You’ll need to make contact with the planning department of the district or borough council that has domain over the area where the proposed work is intended to take place.

If you’re not sure who your local council is, then you can use the Government’s postcode finder to get an answer. Simply type in your postcode and the finder will determine which council you should approach to contact your LPA.

Create your application

When it comes to creating your planning application, there are three key components that must be included to help your LPA come to a decision regarding your proposal. This includes commission designs drawings, commission supporting documentation, and the appropriate planning application submittal fee.

Commission designs drawings – While the number and type of drawings required for your proposal will vary depending on the size and nature of your project, you’ll need to hire an artist to create artwork based on your building work request.

Generally, the bigger the project, the more complex the drawings will be. Enlisting an architect to draw up your designs can even help you to spot any potential design or access problems early on in the process, helping to ensure your application is accepted as soon as possible.

Commission supporting documentation – These documents are designed to support your planning proposal – they include documentation such as an essential Design and Access Statement (DAS – justification of a proposal’s design concept), Planning Statement (a written description of your planning proposal) and Specialist Reports (which can cover everything from the building’s flood risk and structural survey to its lighting and land contamination assessments).

Correct submittal fee – According to the ‘The Town and Country Planning (Fees for Applications, Deemed Applications, Requests and Site Visits) (England) Regulations 2012’, the fee required to be paid upon submitting your planning application varies according to the type of building you’ve proposed and its function. Ensuring you have the correct funds available will therefore help to make this process smoother. Please refer to the Planning Portal fee calculator.

Post-submission process

After you’ve submitted your planning proposal, your LPA will need to determine whether your project should be granted planning permission. An LPA will look at a number of factors including the number, size and layout of the buildings, the available infrastructure, landscaping requirements, the purpose of the development, and how the development will affect the surrounding area.

For more complex applications, you can expect to wait up to 13 weeks for a decision, while most smaller projects will receive an answer within 8 weeks. If the decision takes more than 13 weeks or you are refused planning permission from your LPA for one of a number of different reasons, you can appeal.

To appeal, you’ll need to prove that you were either refused planning permission for reasons that go against the LPA’s planning policy, or, you were granted planning permission but with conditions that you don’t agree with – you’ll need to explain why these conditions are unnecessary, unreasonable, unenforceable, vague or irrelevant in your appeal.

Support with planning permission at Mar-Key Group

If you’ve never attempted a temporary building project before or would like a helping hand with securing planning permission for your next semi-permanent structure, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the helpful team of professionals at Mar-Key Group.

From free site visits and groundwork tests to our crucial network of industry connections, we can provide unparalleled support for your temporary building project. We work closely with planning consultants and can introduce you to our preferred contacts if you’re in need of expert planning advice from a reliable contractor.

Regardless of whether you require guidance or support with your whole application, they have in-depth knowledge and years of experience when it comes to planning permission for temporary structures, so you can rest assured that you’ll be in safe hands.

You can either speak directly to a knowledgeable member of our team by calling us on 01202 577 111 or emailing us at Alternatively, you can also get in touch by filling out our convenient online contact form with your basic contact details as well as your enquiry.