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Established Member
1 Oct 2004
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This is definitely not what I expected, on my Birthday my wife surprised me with a Lie Neilsen 073 shoulder plane great start to the day! But I am not gloating... I opened my cards and the rest of the post only to find a letter from the planning enforcement officer. They received a complain concerning the workshop that I had built at the bottom of the garden. The workshop is 4.2m by 3.6 by 2.6m high. They are not happy with the size and location and I couldn't convince him that it did not need permission as it was exempt under permitted development regs. He is insisting that he has do a complete survey and is already indicated that there will be a lenghty discussion as to the options I have available. By the tone of the conversation I am not too optimistic. I have studied the Town and country planning act 1995, schedule 1 part E (exemptions for outbuildings/shed etc) which is the only way I hope to get out of this spot. The building is more that 5m from the house doesn't take up more that 50% of the garden and is less than 3m high and more than 20 from the road so I thought I was ok. Has anyone else had similar problems or advice, any planners on the forum? Dave
Is it just for hobby use or commercial use? you may have problems if the latter :cry:

Hmm. I don't know the specifics, so this is 'opinion' rather than fact, but 2 issues come to mind:

1) Read up the exact regulations. As Jason says, if you're carrying out a business from it, the rules are tighter. If not, any discussion should not be about a 'workshop', but your self built 'garden shed' which happens to have a number of tools in it. Garden sheds are largely exempt planning, unless insanely big or stupidly blocking neighbors' 'right to light' (in which case, my sympathy would be with the neighbor, to be honest...) Without advocating anything illegal, you do have the ability to prove that any electrical work was either carried out before the new fascist control freak regs came into force (January this year, I think), or if not, were carried out by an authorised leccie, and certified, don't you?

2) Whilst annoying and possibly unnecessary, plan b is to find a good legal expert/planning consultant, and be prepared to wave their name around in the next discussion - simply say that you have no comments, and all further communications should be with your representative, 'Mr expert in this field who knows the rules backwards and says there's no problem'. This will immediately make him back down if all he's doing is 'testing the waters' because he's an overpaid underemployed busybody. If it doesn't, my advice would be to ask exactly what he wants done to make it compliant, confirm with your expert that this is genuine, and do it...

It's not worth playing fast and loose with these swine once they're on your case. All you can do is establish the exact legal situation, and make sure that you're bombproof with respect to it. If this means the shed goes, it's a cheaper lesson than being bankrupted by his sublime ability to load cost after cost on you until you're out of cash, time and energy. Welcome to the modern 'civil' servant - now there's a contradiction in terms... :roll:
Jason only for hobby use.
I am concerned that it is at the end of my garden but so are all of my neighbours sheds. I only have a small 1 bed house so I am concerned that the volume of the workshop in relation to the square footage of the house may breach the reqs as this was a subject that the planner mentioned. However the section that I think the workshop is exempt, section E of sch 1 makes no mention of this but section A does.
Shady, fortunately he does want to inspect the inside for the electrics yet!
Here in Chelmsford they have just employed 4 new planning officers so they are now able to investigate more complaints. There is no problems with the construction. 6x2 floors and roof, 4x2 stud work insulation breather membrane etc and it even has new K spec double glazed windows. It will be a pain in the rear to have to move it or to reduce the size. I travel into London every day and the state of some of the sheds that back onto the railway line makes me wonder how they stand up.
I have to say, you got me interested, and I've looked at a few of the council sites out there. It appears to me that, unless you're missing some 'Chelmsford specific' point, or have joined the house to a vast garage with it, I can't see quite how he can object on planning grounds, given your stated distances/sizes/heights... The only caveat that leaps to mind is what I hinted at above - does it dramatically impose on a neighbor at 2 inches range? I have no specific knowledge here, but that appears to be the only chink in your armour, all other things being equal. That said, get ready for the building regs check if he can't get you under planning regs...

Good luck...
All my immediate neighbours are fine about it, especially when they remember who fitted their kitchens, fixed the overflows(this evening) cut their grass etc etc. But one neighbour whose rather large house overlooks the side of my garden trimmed down his rather large conifers 3 days before the planners received the complaint. The workshop had been up for 4 months before that and he couldn't see it before then. It was his garden that I chased a intruder from a few months before so next time, I may just offer the next low life the use of my jemmey...... Will let you all know how it goes so that no one else makes the same mistake Dave
I also think that it has to be 1.0m from any boundary. Or are you in a conservation area?

If you can pick up a copy of the current Furniture & Cabinet making there is an article about building a garden workshop which covers planning aspects, the guys shop is 20'x12'


sorry to be a boor but hide the electrics away if you can, remember new reguolations now apply re installing same. Even for domestic use. :evil:
If it,s been up for 4 months you should be OK on the electrics as part P only came into force at the start of the year.

I would go along with shady's second point re getting in an expert on your side. Particularly relevant in your case as they (a) now have four more planning officers and so (b) will have more resource to investigate complaints and (c) they will be on targets ...and so if they see you as an 'easy' touch they will stay on your case. So getting in a known expert will make their life more difficult.

Re electrical stuff..the work is outside Part P control providing it was started in 2004 and finished before 31st march 2005..

I'd avoid all reference to workshop and call it a garden shed.

Does building regs apply to garden sheds? I didn't think that it did.

Good luck.
I agree with Roger, refer to it as a shed in any discussion with the planning people. A very important issue will be the distance from the boundry, it should be at least 1 metre as I understand the regs.
Shady":38915929 said:
It's not worth playing fast and loose with these swine once they're on your case. All you can do is establish the exact legal situation, and make sure that you're bombproof with respect to it. If this means the shed goes, it's a cheaper lesson than being bankrupted by his sublime ability to load cost after cost on you until you're out of cash, time and energy. Welcome to the modern 'civil' servant - now there's a contradiction in terms... :roll:

Bit harsh Shady?

After all, - if you made a complaint you'd expect it to be investigated wouldn't you? They do have a job to do.
I've deleted a post here, Stuart. All I'll say is, wait 'till you have to deal with them. They do indeed have a job to do - but, like all other elements of the state machinery today, they don't do it. They fill forms, meet targets, and attempt to interfere without exercising discretion or intellect.
This, sadly seems to be the way things go these days. I suspect your local Council are acutely aware of the "claim culture" we are living in. So if the 'complainant' has indicated a loss in value to their property, then the authorities may feel obliged to 'sort it' a.s.a.p. Just so they don't find themselves in a long legal rangle that they may not be able to recover losses from if they 'allow' you to do what you wish to. Best of luck Dave,

Thanks for all the comments.

I am now most concerned that the "SHED" is within 1 metre of the boundary but there again so are all 4 of my neighbours shed just happens that mine is just a little larger than all four of their put together!

Sliver I understand where you are coming from but what annoys me about the actual complain is that the details provided to the planner are wrong, firstly the shed is not over 10ft high as they claim and for some reason they seem to think that I do not have rear access to the Shed.. but when I pointed this out the planner is still going ahead so it does seem that they have not got much else to do. I am thinking of putting four wheels on it an calling it a caravan, I have got the right accent and maybe then the planning dept will not bother. It just seems that when you are considerate as I was in consulting all my immediate neighbours and also reducing the height of the Shed so that it would not be taller than my neigbours pitched roof shed, you still get grief.
Hi David,

Sheds, don't mention sheds!!!!

I had a similar problem to you a couple of years ago here in Maidenhead. Basially, my back garden backs onto the main drag through our estate. The other side of my rear fence had a strip of land 2 metres deep between my fence and the pavement which belongs to me. I obtained planning consent to move the fence which was fine. When it came time to move the fence, I decided to lay the base for a 10'x8' shed whilst the old fence was down. The shed was erected and then I built the fence and decided to put a gate into it to allow rear access to the garden so the kids could get their bikes in and out.

Anyway, the shed and fence had been up a couple of weeks and one day I'd bought some timber and parked my van (I fit kitchens & bathrooms so have a transit sized van) on the road at the back of my house whilst I unloaded said timber.

A few weeks later there was a knock on the door and a planning officer asked to inspect the shed. "Why?" asked I. We've had a complaint about the siting of your shed. Bear in mind that all my neighbours have done exactly the same as I have - there are six houses in the same position as mine and each has a shed at the bottom of their garden - a metre from the boundary of the property.

Anyway, I was forced to apply for planning retrospective planning permission (which cost me £110). The planners seemed more interested in the fact that I'd put a gate in the fence than the fact that I'd built a shed.

Having attended the meetings for both the Parish council and Town council (they seem to be a special breed of person) I was amazed at the discussions that went on. The parish council as I say spent most of the time discussing the fence and gate which they could do nothing about, whilst the town council spent most time arguing about what I kept in the shed.

It transpires that the complaint was made because the neighbours the other sode of the road thought my van was going to become a permanent fixture and it would deprive them of on street parking!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, the planning application was approve with the proviso that the shed was not to be used for commercial purposes - fair enough. I've often been tempted to park my van round the back of my house just to be bloody minded but then that would put me in the category as my neighbours - A*S*H*........ well you get the picture of what I think of them.

You have my every sympathy but I seriously don't think you have anything to worry about - it's likely that you will just have to cough up for and submit a planning application - your neighbours have already set the precedent for you by having sheds in their gardens.

What an interesting thread to come across this morning... I had a stand up row with my neigbours yesterday over erecting a fence between my property and theirs. I did my research, kept to the height specified in the planning regs (ok so it is 4 inches to hig at the far end so that it will be level) and the reason i did it was to avoid having to go down the route of lodging a planning complaint about the neighbours extension to their pigeon loft, which now ocupies at least 50% of their back garden!

Without boring you with the details, there was talk of chainsaws, soliciters, court thousands of pounds and, best of all, they would sue me if any of the pigeons got insured on the fence! I should point out that the pigeon coop is constructed out of spare ends that the son got from building sites he works on. Ho hum, I am kind of hoping that they do try to sue me, would make for a very interesting court case:

"I put up the legal fence to protect my privacy from the iligal construction in the complaints garden..."

Dave - Some years ago I knew someone in a similar situation. He told me latter that his big mistake was referring to the 'shed' as a workshop which conjures up all sorts of ideas in local authority speak. Always always refer to it as a garden shed just for keeping the lawnmower dry!!

It must be 1 metre from the boundary, and as Shady has said the restriction of light onto a neighbor could be an issue.

All in all it sounds like a case of over zealous beaurocracy again - One of the many reasons I'm now in CZ :) I can build my new workshop any size I like, I can do all my own electrics, I can install any type of heating, any type of windows, any type of machinery, I can have a bathroom, cooker, and I don't have to meusure the distance to the boundary down to the last mm.
Losos, maybe because the beer is so cheap in the CZ Republic is also a factor.

Will keep you all posted and will try my best to give a definitive guide to the regs when I get this sorted out to help prevent anyone else getting into a similar spot!

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