Derbyshire Property Talk: February 08

PUBLISHED: 13:59 29 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:00 20 February 2013

Jonathan Jenkin

Jonathan Jenkin

Jonathan Jenkin, Managing Director of The Planning and Design Practice Ltd in Derby's Vernon Gate, discusses some property issues ...

Q: I am working from home as a therapist offering reiki, massage and zero balancing. Our converted dining room really isn't big enough and doesn't provide the quiet peaceful environment my clients need.
A friend suggested putting a log cabin in the garden and working from there. I have a good-sized rear garden and although the house is a semi there is easy access at the side and I could run the business separately from the house. Do I need planning permission and do you think it would be approved?
Mrs Richards, Derbyshire

A: The good news is that you don't need planning permission. You have a large rear garden and the house backs on to other back gardens. You can cover up to half the garden with sheds and outbuildings as long as they are 'incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house'. The buildings must not be more than 4m to the ridge of a pitched roof or 3m high to a flat roof.
Most single storey log cabins are no more than 4m high to a ridge, so could be placed in the garden without planning permission. The log cabin must be placed at least 5m from the house and in the back garden.
The planning regime allows people to work from home without planning permission as long as the use or activity doesn't grow to a point where the residential character of the property is significantly affected.
This is a matter of fact and degree. For example, if you work alone in the log cabin, seeing clients one at a time during the working day, then the level of activity would not require planning permission. However if you started to rent out space to other therapists and visitor numbers increased significantly then planning permission would be required.
I have spoken to the local planning authority and they have no objection to your use of the log cabin as a therapy space as long as the operation is kept on a small scale.
From my experience, if you do have to apply for planning permission because the business has grown then there will be objections from neighbours, particularly on traffic and parking grounds and planning permission could be refused. However, for a small, growing business, using the garden is a good idea, it separates home and work and allows the business to develop. It can also provide a springboard to a high street shop or business unit.

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