Do you need planning permission for a shipping container home in the UK?

Do you need planning permission for a shipping container home in the UK?

If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know by now that there are many great reasons to buy a container. Not only are they the future of retail, but they can also be made to build homes and businesses! Therefore, we can’t really blame you if you are left with a burning desire to buy or rent one our containers. However, depending on what you are using your container for, you may have to consider applying for planning permission. In this guide, we will be looking into the specific scenarios in which you would (or would not) require planning permission for a container.

The Law

When it comes to planning permission, there are a number of specific rules to take into account – 378 pages worth of rules to be exact. However, we won’t bore you with the exact details of every section of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as we only need to look at Section 55. The act applies to all ‘developments’, and this particular section defines a ‘development’ as ‘the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or operations in, on, over or under land’.

Technically, a container does not fall into this category. Like caravans and mobile homes, containers should be classed as temporary structures as they are not fixed into the ground, and can be quite easily moved at any time, unlike a house or a thirty story apartment block. Despite this, the rules don’t mean you can simply place a container wherever you please.

Do I need planning permission for a container home?

While a container is not technically a ‘development’, you will still most likely need planning permission to build a home out of containers. Container-based homes are typically built using multiple containers, and it can’t be considered as a temporary structure if you are choosing to live in the home for a prolonged period of time. Providing you already own the land, applying for planning permission shouldn’t be an issue. There are a few cases in which it may be difficult to obtain planning permission, such as in busy residential areas or in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The rules regarding planning permission are slightly different regarding the addition of a container as an extension to your existing home. This would be great if you wanted to add an additional bedroom, office or study to your home in the form of a container. The Planning Portal website states that extensions are permitted, providing they satisfy certain conditions.

For example, an extension must not cover more than half the area of land around the original house, and extensions must not be higher than the highest part of the roof. A single container extension wouldn’t pose such problems, so you should be alright to proceed with your extension without permission. However, the specific rules regarding planning permission differ throughout the country, so the best course of action is to contact your local planning authority for a definite answer.

Do I need planning permission for a container-based business?

Planning permission for container-based businesses depends on the nature of the business. By this, we mean whether it is permanent or temporary. As with container housing, a permanent container-based business would need planning permission before construction.

However, this would most likely not be the case if you were to set up a pop-up shop in a container. As long as your container is not in one location for more than 28 days, it would be considered as a temporary structure. Of course, you would need permission from the landowner or the local council to set up shop in the first place, however this would be the case for any simple market stall.

When wouldn’t I need planning permission to use a container?

There are some cases in which you wouldn’t need to worry about planning permission at all. If you wanted to place a shipping container in your garden (perhaps as a summer house or a shed), then this wouldn’t require planning permission. Despite this, you may want to consider your neighbours before doing this. Containers can be a bit of an eyesore if not properly maintained, therefore you can do yourselves and your neighbours a favour by treating your container to a nice coat of paint. Not only will this leave your container looking sleek, but it will also please your neighbours and give them less reason to speak to the local council.

As we know, containers are often used as temporary offices; especially on building sites. In this case, you would not require planning permission as they are merely temporary and can easily be moved if necessary. If you own a large farm and want to use a container as a shed, this also wouldn’t be a problem.

In general, if you own a large plot of land and want to make use of a few containers, then you don’t need to worry about obtaining planning permission. For example, the container based ski shop we set up at a dry ski slope in Welwyn Garden City did not require any planning permission.

In summary, if you are thinking of constructing a container based house or business, then you will most likely need planning permission – especially if it is a permanent structure or in a highly residential area. When it comes to building on your own land, you have slightly more freedom, although you should consider what your neighbouring occupants might think of this new addition. However, if you are still unsure, the best thing to do is to contact your local planning authority, who can look at your specific situation and provide you with a final answer.

If you’re thinking of embarking on a new container-based project, then look no further. Whether you are looking for a temporary office or want to construct a container-based home, Unit Hire can help. If you are interested in buying or renting a container and want more information about planning permission, then get in touch with us today.

26.12.2018
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