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Do you need planning permission for a home office?

View profile for Charlotte Lockwood
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Since working from home was forced in 2020, workplaces have seen a continued rise in the number of people wishing to stay working from home even after a return to the office is possible. For some, this is simply working from the dining table, others a desk or home office or even an external office that could have been a lockdown shed-to-office project!

Although working from home is now seen as something ordinary, many are caught out when planning permission is needed. This article looks at when planning permission is needed for working from home.

Does a home office need planning permission?

Typically no, however there are exceptions to this. If you are using a spare room as a home office as a change of scenery when you’re working, then there is no need for planning permission. However, if you meet any of the below criteria, it is important for you to assess the use of your building and possibly apply for planning permission. Planning permission is needed when:

  • There is a significant increase in the number of visitors to your property, with clients or customers visiting the business;
  • Items related to the business are stored outside your property;
  • There is an advertisement for the business outside your property, such as a sign;
  • Significant structural changes are needed to your home.

Minimising the disruption to your neighbours is key, as it is often the disruption caused that leads to a need for planning permission. Creating more traffic in your area, changing the main use of the property or building, and expanding your property are all instances in which planning permission will need to be obtained.

Garden and shed offices

Similar to a home office, whether you need planning permission for a garden office will depend on the impact on your property and your surrounding neighbours. If there is to be an external building, the height of the building must be considered, especially if it will cause shade or privacy issues on neighbouring property.

Each council has its own restrictions, and further limitations could be applicable depending on the property type. For example, if you live in a rented property, you will more than likely require permission from your landlord to add an outdoor office. The area that your residence is in could also bring further limitations, and it is always best to check with your local council about area-specific rules regarding planning permission.

Incidental use

To avoid needing planning permission, the use of the extra space must be ‘incidental’. The line between incidental and not is often blurred and open to interpretation, but excessive business use of the property is highly unlikely to amount to incidental use. This includes having clients visit the garden office. However, using the space as an office only for your own purposes without frequent visits from clients is much less likely to need planning permission, as it will be considered incidental use.

Why is it important to get planning permission?

If you fail to get planning permission when required, it could lead to the council demanding you remove the outbuilding and cease operating the business from the property. This is why it is crucial to ensure you are compliant with all the rules and regulations and act on the correct advice. It might be a hassle at the time but will save you money, time and frustration in the future.  It is also worth checking the title deeds to the property in case they contain a restriction preventing you from using your home for your business.  


If you would like further advice on the contents of this blog, please do not hesitate to contact Charlotte Lockwood on 01636 593507 or email