Do you require planning permission to build temporary structures?

Authored by Mike Page
Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2020 - 09:49

Before putting up a building, you should seek the local authority’s approval of your suggested building project. This is what referred to as planning permission. The reason the local authorities have to give consent to those who want to put up structures is to ensure that no unsuitable developments are done. You typically need to apply for permission if you want to put up a new building or intend to make significant changes to an existing structure

Temporary building and planning permission

So, do you need to obtain planning permission to put up a temporary building? Well, there is a common misconception that one does not need to get approval when erecting a temporary building, but this could not be farther from the truth. Perhaps many people assume that since the building is temporary, no planning permission is needed. There are certainly cases when permission is not required, but most of the times, it is a requirement.

When thinking of temporary building hire or purchasing, you must consider applying for planning permission. If you do not seek approval and a disgruntled neighbour raises the issue, the local authority could set aside an enforcement order to bring down the building or relocate it immediately. Fortunately, with temporary structures, relocation is possible. But in most cases, it is possible to apply for retrospective planning permission even if it is considerably more stress than doing it before the project commences.

Exceptions for applying for planning permission

There are circumstances under which you do not need planning permission when you build your structure. Some of these include:

·   If the structure is to occupy a floor space of not more than 100 square meters and will not be put to use for more than 28 days.

·   If the building is going to be an extension of an already existing one, even if it is intended for use for a longer duration. However, the extension must fulfil the following criteria:

Ø  It is shorter in height compared to the original structure

Ø  It is intended for the same use as the original building

Ø  The size of the structure does not exceed 25% of the initial one by volume

Instances when planning permission is required

As per government guidelines, you need to apply for planning permission in the following instances:

·   If the floor space will exceed 100 square meters

·   The building will be in use continually for more than 28 days

·   The volume of the structure, if it is an extension, goes beyond 25% of the original one

·   The building takes up more than 25% of the total area of your site

·   The structure is less than five meters from your site boundaries

·   The structure significantly decreases the area available for vehicle parking or manoeuvring

Timing of the application

Normally, it is advisable to start applying for the planning permission before you buy or install the temporary structure. You should endeavour to submit it as early as possible to avoid issues with the local authorities. However, with the permission taking 8-12 weeks, it may cause some problem where a building is needed urgently. In such scenarios, some businesses go on to put up a temporary building without permission and seek it retrospectively if they can prove that the structure was needed as an emergency.

When a building is put up with permission, the local authority will grant the retrospective planning permission without any problems after being convinced that the structure was needed urgently. But if the permission is denied, the authorities will require the site to be restored to its original state. The developer will have to remove the building and they will issue an enforcement notice.


You need to apply for planning permission to build temporary buildings if they will be used for more than 28 days or are bigger than 100 square meters. The decision to apply before installing the structure or after doing if they are urgently needed is all yours, but you should seek experts' advice.


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