Planning Permission for a 1 bed timber cabin

Discussion in 'Buildings & Infrastructure' started by GandV, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. GandV

    GandV New Member

    Good morning all!

    I am looking for some advice on obtaining planning permission. And I should start by mentioning that I am a carpenter and construction site manager, so know the trades, just not the bureaucracy!

    I will try and paint the picture without going on; my girlfriend and I are currently living on her parents mixed organic farm (we are in our late 20's). Her mother has kindly set aside a portion of land (currently registered as garden for the farmhouse), and we want to save our money by building an eco cabin on it, thus saving rent money.

    The land is surrounded by farm land, and looks down a lovely rural valley in Cornwall. There are some houses at the bottom of the valley (about 150m distant) but otherwise it is out of sight. I have been considering different options for planning and haven't been able to find a 'most sensible option' yet.

    What we would like, in the ideal world, is to build a 50m2 (or thereabouts) 1 bedroom mezzanine timber cabin (either on strip foundations or pole construction - depending on planning!) on the plot, which we can live in until we have saved enough to build a bigger and more substantial stone house (forming an L shape to the cabin), and eventually resign the cabin to B&B.

    There is currently a summer house on the plot, which is registered on the council map as a building. (perhaps some sort of change of use may be applicable, but the cabin would be much larger than the current shed).

    There is a cornish hedge that is badly undermined by rabbit activity that runs along the middle of the plot. Ideally, we would like to rebuild the wall and level the site so the wall is at the top boundary (4m move of wall to north). My friend has suggested this is best to be done well in advance of any council presence as they can be funny about this, even though it will be rebuilt in the traditional manner, and extremely sympathetically..

    The main farm house is about 30m to the west of the plot, and the access is shared. Luckily, my girlfriend has been living in the barns for 4 years (but possibly in the shed on the plot, if it helps :rotfl: ). The farmhouse water is supplied by a bore-hole, which we could either share, or drill another (again, whichever was more favourable!). Electricity would ideally come mostly from solar power, along with solar water heating, but some form of mains connection would be desirable. I.e. we would like to be more or less off grid, but are pragmatic enough to settle with energy neutral and connected to the grid.

    As with all building, there seem to be about a million jargonistic regulations. I would ideally like to avoid having to design to building regs, unless necessary (for budget reasons), and also it is very important not to compromise the future house build. We really dont want to taint the beautiful valley with an ugly static caravan, or the like, especially when I can build a beautiful Wisteria adorned timber cabin that will melt into its surroundings within a few years. It may be worth mentioning that I build shepherds huts as well, though, it is nearly impossible to live comfortably in one as a couple for more than a few months!

    Does anybody have any knowledge of this sort of development, and what the do's and dont's are? I don't want to annoy the neighbors, or the council, but we must have somewhere to live and start our own family that is within our financial reach. (I suspect we arent alone in this desire!)

    All the best, and thanks in advance. Any help, guidance of advice would be greatly appreciated!

    G and V
  2. Hi @GandV. I am a Planning Consultant and I certainly see some options available to you. When I'm back in the office tomorrow I will provide a better response but if you would like to PM me the address and any other information it may help further.
  3. Hi @GandV thanks for your PM, as your question was asked in an open fourm I will give my general opinion on here but any specifics to the site I will PM you.

    You say the garden land is registered as part of the garden to the farmhouse, so on the basis that this is classed as within the residential curtilage then as family members you can live in a 'caravan' (see definition attached it is quite wide ranging) assuming the permitted devlopment rights on the farmhouse have not been removed from the farmhouse. This would be classed as annexed accomodation from the main house and not as a separate dwelling. You would need to apply for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC) but this is not a full planning application and the remit of the planning officer is limited. To be classed as annexed it would need to be seen to be reliant on the main house in some form (usually they don't include kitchens) thus making it impossible to be a separate dwelling.

    If you then wanted to after a period of time turn this into a holiday let then having the LDC would show the structure was legal and then you could apply for a change of use to a holiday let. If you wanted to relocate it on the farm for this purpose this may also be an option open to you at this point. You could then add whatever facilities were left out of the annexe (as per my previous paragraph) if you hadn't added them in the intervening period

    You say your girlfriend has been living in the barns for four years; is this documented at all? In what form of accomodation? If you can prove that she has been living separate to the farmhouse in effectively in a barn conversion then a LDC could be applied for for change of use of that barn (or part there of) to a dwelling. This would then stop any enforcement action from being taken against that being used as a residential dwelling. That LDC could then be used as a bargaining chip when looking to build somewhere for yourselves on the farm as there would legally be two residential units and you could trade the one in the barn for a new one elsewhere. It would have to go through the whole planning process but it would remove the first hurdle of "no new residential development in the countryside".

    Finally, are any of the farm buildings in a condition that they could be converted under Permitted Development (Class Q) to residential dwellings?

    Attached Files:

  4. GandV

    GandV New Member

    Hi George,

    Thanks SO much for your reply. Very useful information, and plenty for me to be looking into! I cant believe the size of building that can be classed as a caravan! I must look into ways of keeping within the specifications; presumably, if you can theoretically lift it with a crane, it can be transported on a trailer and counts?! Does anybody know of any examples where people have been successful with this sort of manoeuvre, or any other ways around it? I will be researching this today, and will post my findings here. I will also try and find some useful documents detailing the rules around LDC's.

    Unfortunately, all the old barns have been converted to holiday lets already, so no room there!

    George, do you know if an outdoor kitchen on the plot would count? I imagine that people usually just omit the kitchen until the building has been inspected and then pop one in a week later?

    Do you know if it would be possible to cast some strips of foundation to take the building without having to use ugly loose concrete block pillars or the like? If nothing is permanently attached to them, what would they actually count as?

    V has been living in various places around the farm, from the summer house to our current station in one of the small barns (no winter bookings this year) that is a summer holiday let. Could an LDC be applied to something as small as the summer house? If so, could we get an LDC on that, and use that as our bargaining chip for demolition and rebuilding of a suitably proportioned property or even 'caravan' in it's place?

    Lots of questions, I'm afraid, but the process is becoming less daunting and more fascinating and exciting by the day!

    All the best best, and with great thanks,

    G and V
  5. If you want to look at units that are classed as mobile homes then google 'double wide mobile homes' or 'double wide log cabins' - they can get quite elaborate and this is what a lot of travellers have on their pitches. I believe the units have to be able to be towed, even these massive double wide ones, when split into the two parts they still have chassis underneath to tow them on; I don't believe they have to be road legal though!

    I cannot confirm or deny your assumption on the kitchens lol!

    I believe the foundations would be considered permeant therefore the intention is permeant and therefore no longer mobile! It is a very grey area. Could you not clad to the ground to cover the block piers?

    I think with V moving around and therefore not making a dwelling of one particular building then it would be hard to prove unless you could provide multiple affidavits to state she has been in one place for at least 4 years.
  6. GandV

    GandV New Member

    Thanks G,

    It looks like we have come to a fork in the road: the 'dependant mobile home' route or the Granny Annex (dependant on the main house) route.

    The Mobile home route would allow a cabin to be constructed up to 20m long, and no wider than 6.8m, and from the finished floor level to the ceilings highest point must not exceed 3m. The pros are obviously scale - thats big, and far bigger than what we are in requirement of and certainly would cost a lot more to build due to the extra timber essential to make it 'mobile'.

    The Granny Annex route is a little more unclear to me. I am not sure if its possible to give it foundations and build using natural local materials to a nice standard of cabin but omit the kitchen therefore proving its dependance on the main building. Or would this style of building also require a non permanent base? The dimensions for a 'permitted development' of that order, as far as I can tell are for it to be no taller than 4m at the roof apex, and 2.5m to the base of the eaves, and not cover more than 50m^2. The boundary proximity constraints will not apply to us. I would prefer to build in this manner as proper stone foundations could be installed and the timber frame built on top, allowing for a slate roof or slate hung walls if necessary.

    Do you know about the distinction of these two? The Caravan definition is quite clear in my mind now, but Im not sure about the granny annex. I imagine it would have to be modular and essentially would fall under the same kind of permit as the mobile building, but I dont understand why there are such different size constraints?

    All the best,

    G & V
  7. @GandV I am getting into the realms of my boss killing me for giving away free information but please remember SJM Planning when you decide what to do!

    You can build the annexe out of whatever you like and on whatever foundations work providing building regs are complied with. The section of the GPDO you need to comply to is; Schedule 2, Part 1, Class E, whihc reads:

    Class E – buildings etc incidental to the enjoyment of a dwellinghouse

    Permitted development

    E. The provision within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse of—

    (a) any building or enclosure, swimming or other pool required for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such, or the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of such a building or enclosure; or

    (b) a container used for domestic heating purposes for the storage of oil or liquid petroleum gas.
    Development not permitted

    E.1 Development is not permitted by Class E if—
    (a) permission to use the dwellinghouse as a dwellinghouse has been granted only by virtue of Class M, N, P or Q of Part 3 of this Schedule (changes of use);
    (b) the total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and containers within the curtilage (other than the original dwellinghouse) would exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage (excluding the ground area of the original dwellinghouse);
    (c) any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse;
    (d) the building would have more than a single storey;
    (e) the height of the building, enclosure or container would exceed—
    (i) 4 metres in the case of a building with a dual-pitched roof,
    (ii) 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure or container within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse, or
    (iii) 3 metres in any other case;​
    (f) the height of the eaves of the building would exceed 2.5 metres;
    (g) the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated within the curtilage of a listed building;
    (h) it would include the construction or provision of a verandah, balcony or raised platform;
    (i) it relates to a dwelling or a microwave antenna; or
    (j) the capacity of the container would exceed 3,500 litres.
    E.2 In the case of any land within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse which is within—
    (a) an area of outstanding natural beauty;
    (b) the Broads;
    (c) a National Park; or
    (d) a World Heritage Site,​
    development is not permitted by Class E if the total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures, pools and containers situated more than 20 metres from any wall of the dwellinghouse would exceed 10 square metres.

    E.3 In the case of any land within the curtilage of the dwellinghouse which is article 2(3) land, development is not permitted by Class E if any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land between a wall forming a side elevation of the dwellinghouse and the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse.

    Interpretation of Class E

    E.4 For the purposes of Class E, “purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse as such” includes the keeping of poultry, bees, pet animals, birds or other livestock for the domestic needs or personal enjoyment of the occupants of the dwellinghouse.​
  8. Providing your building fully complies with the above then it can not be refused. The case to be made is the purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwellinghouse, specifically the for the domestic needs or personal enjoyment of the occupants of the dwellinghouse. It will take a pursuasive argument to satisfy this condition, hence the lack of kitchen or creative naming of the building such as "Summerhouse" or "Studio".
  9. GandV

    GandV New Member

    Thanks George, We really appreciate your guidance on this!

    G and V

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