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Does a Polytunnel need Planning Permission

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A polytunnel makes an affordable and effective alternative to a greenhouse. They’re cheaper, more flexible, more mobile, and, since they’re soft, they aren’t vulnerable to damage from errant footballs. As such, they’ve found their way into gardens and allotments across the UK, where they allow the growing of fruits and vegetables of a sort that might require careful temperature-management.

But, for all of their mobility, these are at least semi-permanent structures? Don’t they therefore need planning permission?

The short answer is that, for most domestic gardens, you do not need planning permission. However, there are a few exceptions that you might need to worry about. If your polytunnel falls foul of any of the following rules of thumb, then it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to obtain planning permission – but it does mean that it’s a good idea to get in touch with your local planning authority to clear things up.

Is Your Polytunnel too Tall?

If your tunnel is more than 3m tall, then people in neighbouring gardens will be able to see it, and it might feasibly block out the sunlight for them. Get to four or five metres tall, and this problem becomes even worse; you don’t want to create an eyesore and annoy everyone, after all.

Is Your Polytunnel too close to the Boundary?

If your tunnel sits right next to the boundary, then height concerns will be even more pressing. If it’s taller than 2.5m and you want it flush against your fence, then it’s time to pick up the phone.

Is your Polytunnel too Big?

There are rules against appending an enormous extension to the rear of your home. If it’s covering more than half of the area around your house, then you might need to start worrying.

Is your Polytunnel at the front of your House?

A polytunnel that’s facing the street is going to be much more visible, and therefore (in theory) more objectionable. Sometimes, this is a necessity; in these cases, you’ll likely need permission.

Is your Polytunnel on an allotment?

In the case of allotments, you’ll probably have more to fear from the allotment committee than the planning restrictions. After all, sometimes the installation of a polytunnel can suck in energy which might otherwise reach neighbouring crops.

What about Agricultural Land?

If you’re running a farm, it might seem that you should be granted greater leeway. And most of the time, you are: if you want to keep sheep in a tunnel, you should be fine. However, if you’re altering the purpose of your farm (you’re clearing out all of your arable crops and keeping livestock instead) or applying for a grant, then you’ll probably need to seek planning permission.

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Latest Issue

BDC 318 : Jul 2024