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Do You Need Planning Permission for a Pergola?

Do I need planning permission for a pergola?


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If you’re considering adding a pergola to your outdoor space, you may be wondering if you need planning permission. Planning permission is a process that homeowners need to go through to make certain changes or additions to their property. In the case of pergolas, the need for planning permission depends on a variety of factors, such as the size, location, distance from the boundary wall, and design of the structure. In this blog, we’ll explore the topic of planning permission for pergolas, including when it is required and when it is not, specifically for pergolas located at the front of your house or on a raised platform such as a balcony or veranda. By the end of this blog, you’ll have a clearer understanding of the regulations surrounding pergolas and whether you need planning permission for your project.

Understanding Permitted Developments

Before we dive into the specifics of planning permission for pergolas, it’s important to understand the concept of permitted development. Permitted development refers to specific types of development that can be undertaken without the need for planning permission. This means that certain building works and changes of use are allowed as long as they meet certain criteria set out by the government.

When it comes to permitted development, it’s important to note that the rules and regulations may vary depending on your local planning authority. It’s always a good idea to check with your local council or planning authority to confirm the specific regulations in your area.

What Is Permitted Development?

Permitted development rights are a national grant of planning permission, allowing certain building works and changes of use to be carried out without the need for a planning application in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The idea behind permitted development is to simplify the planning process for minor developments, making it easier for homeowners to make improvements to their properties, including those with historical interest.

However, it’s important to note that permitted development rights are subject to specific limitations and conditions. These limitations and conditions are put in place to ensure that the development is carried out in a way that is acceptable and does not negatively impact the surrounding area. For example, there are height restrictions, size restrictions, and limitations on the placement of structures.

It’s also worth noting that permitted development rights may not apply if your property is a listed building, located in a conservation area, or subject to certain other planning restrictions. In such cases, you may need to apply for planning permission even for minor developments.

Permitted development pergola

Pergola as a Permitted Development

So, where does a pergola fit in the realm of permitted development? In many cases, a pergola can be considered a permitted development, meaning you may not need planning permission to build one. However, the good news is that if your pergola meets all of the requirements and there are no limitations or constraints, such as being within the curtilage of a listed building, you may not need planning permission for garden buildings like pergolas.

Requirements for a Pergola to Be Permitted Development

If you want your pergola to be considered a permitted development, there are a few requirements that need to be met. These requirements include:

  1. Height: The total height of the pergola, including any raised platforms, should not exceed 2.5 metres.
  2. Side of your house: The pergola should not be located on the side of your house that faces a public walkway or a road.
  3. Metres of the boundary: The pergola should be located at least 2 metres away from the boundary of your property.
  4. Raised platform: If the pergola includes a raised platform, it should not have a total height of more than 30 centimetres.

By ensuring that your pergola meets these requirements, you can potentially avoid the need for planning permission and proceed with your project as a permitted development.

Permitted Development Limitations and Constraints

While pergolas may qualify as permitted development, there are some limitations and constraints you need to be aware of. These limitations are in place to protect the environment, historical buildings, and the overall character of certain areas. Here are a few examples of such limitations:

  1. Only houses can have permitted development rights but not all houses have permitted development rights: Flats, maisonettes and commercial properties do not have permitted development rights so always need planning permission.
  2. Conservation area: If your property is located in a conservation area, there may be stricter regulations in place for permitted development, including for structures like pergolas.
  3. National park or area of outstanding natural beauty: Similar to conservation areas, national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty also have their own regulations for permitted development, which may affect the installation of a pergola.
  4. World heritage site: If your property is located within a World Heritage site, there may be restrictions on the types of developments permitted, including pergolas.
  5. Restrictions imposed by the local planning authority: Your local authority may impose specific restrictions such as Article 4 Direction that require planning permission for garage conversions. Even living underneath a flight path can limit or restrict or remove your permitted development rights. These restrictions may be applied based on factors such as the size and location of your property, the impact on the local area, and the potential concerns of neighbouring properties.
  6. Permitted development rights are limited: if your property has ever been modified, even if a long time ago before you bought it, some or all of your permitted development allowance may have been used up meaning permission is required.

It’s important to check with your local planning authority or council to determine if any of these limitations or constraints apply to your property before proceeding with your pergola project.

Wooden pergola

The Importance of a Lawful Development Certificate

Even if your pergola falls under permitted development, it’s still a good idea to consider obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate. A Lawful Development Certificate is a formal document issued by your local planning authority that provides official confirmation that a proposed development is lawful.

Why Is a Lawful Development Certificate Recommended?

Obtaining a Lawful Development Certificate for your permitted development pergola project is recommended for a few reasons. Firstly, it serves as official proof that your project meets the criteria for permitted development, providing you with peace of mind. Secondly, a Lawful Development Certificate can be useful when selling your property, as it demonstrates to potential buyers that your development is lawful. It can also be helpful for securing financing for your project, as lenders may request a Lawful Development Certificate as part of their due diligence process.

Planning permission for a pergola

Planning Permission for a Pergola

In some cases, you may need to apply for planning permission for your pergola project. While pergolas can often be considered permitted development, there are certain circumstances where planning permission is required.

Circumstances When Planning Permission Is Required

Here are a few circumstances where you may need to apply for planning permission for your pergola project:

  1. Listed building: If your property is a listed building, planning permission will likely be required for any changes, including the addition of a pergola. You may need to seek listed building consent as well.
  2. Conservation area: If your property is located within a conservation area, the regulations for permitted development may be more restrictive, requiring planning permission for a pergola.
  3. Building consent: If your pergola is attached to your house or requires substantial alteration to the original house, you may need to apply for building consent, which is a form of planning permission.
  4. Curtilage of a listed building: Even if your pergola is not directly attached to a listed building, you may still need planning permission if it falls within the curtilage of a listed building, which refers to the area of land associated with the listed building.

It’s important to consult your local planning authority to determine if any of these circumstances apply to your property and to seek the necessary planning permission if required.

Risks of Building a Pergola without Planning Permission

Building a pergola without planning permission in the UK can have consequences, including the risk of enforcement action from your local planning authority. If your pergola is found to be in breach of planning regulations, you may be required to submit a retrospective planning application, which can result in additional costs and delays to your project. It’s also important to note that insurance companies may not cover any damages or accidents related to a pergola that has been built without planning permission or adherence to building regulations. Additionally, building a pergola without planning permission can potentially impact your relationship with your neighbors, as the structure may affect their property and views. To avoid these risks, it’s always recommended to obtain the necessary planning permission and adhere to building regulations for your pergola project in the UK.

Garden Pergola

Applying for Planning Permission for a Pergola

If your pergola project requires planning permission, you will need to follow the application process set out by your local planning authority. The exact process may vary depending on your local council, but it generally involves submitting a planning application and providing all necessary information and documentation.

The Requirements and Process of Application

When applying for planning permission for your pergola, you will need to complete the application form, which can usually be found on your local council’s planning portal. The application process typically requires you to provide a detailed description of your project, along with any supporting documents, such as site plans and elevation drawings, to ensure the highest quality of construction.

It’s worth noting that the application process may take time, and additional fees may apply. To ensure a smooth application process, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a member of our team, such as a porch specialist, who can assist you in navigating the planning application process.

Determining If Planning Permission Is Required

If you’re unsure whether your pergola project requires planning permission, there are a few steps you can take to determine the best course of action. One option is to submit a pre-planning application to your local planning authority. Pre-planning applications allow you to seek informal advice on your project before submitting a formal planning application. Another option is to seek a planning appraisal from a professional planning consultant, who can assess your project and provide guidance on the planning permission requirements. It’s always best to seek professional advice and engage with your local planning authority to ensure you have the correct information for your specific pergola project.

Option 1 – Pre-Application

Participating in pre-application can be advantageous for individuals interested in building a pergola. It allows for conversations to take place, aiding in comprehending the requirements of the local authority and uncovering potential concerns early on. If your local authority provides a pre-application service, this may be a viable choice. Architectural drawings and a comprehensive written proposal will be necessary. The fee can amount to £600, and the wait time for a response can be up to 8 weeks. It’s important to note that this response is not legally binding and does not ensure the success of any future application.

Option 2 – Planning Appraisal

On the other hand, a planning appraisal can be conducted by one of our skilled town planners. We perform identical checks to the council, which involve reviewing relevant planning policies, examining the planning history, and identifying any planning limitations at the location. The key distinction is that there is no requirement for architectural drawings or a comprehensive written proposal, and we are capable of providing the answers within a day instead of the potential 8-week wait.

Building a pergola without planning permission

What Happens If You Build a Pergola Without Permission?

If you choose to build a pergola without the required planning permission, you may face a number of consequences. The local planning authority has the power to take enforcement action against you, which could involve a range of measures, including:

  1. Issuing an enforcement notice: This notice may require you to remove the pergola, alter its design, or cease using the structure.
  2. Prosecution: In extreme cases, the local planning authority may choose to prosecute you for building without permission, which can result in fines and other legal consequences.
  3. Additional costs: If you are required to submit a retrospective planning application, you may incur additional costs for the application process, as well as potential modifications to your pergola.
  4. You may be unable to sell or remortgage: You might not be able to sell or refinance your property without obtaining formal consent, such as planning permission or a lawful development certificate.

To avoid these potential issues, it’s always recommended to seek planning permission for your pergola project before proceeding with construction. By following the proper planning procedures, you can ensure that your pergola project is both legal and compliant with local regulations.


In conclusion, it is essential to understand the regulations and guidelines around planning permission for pergolas. While some pergolas may fall under permitted development and do not require planning permission, others may need approval from the local planning authority. To ensure compliance and avoid any potential issues, it is recommended to consult with professionals who can provide expert advice tailored to your specific situation. If you have any questions or need assistance with obtaining planning permission for your pergola, feel free to get in touch with us. Our team of experts is here to help you navigate the process smoothly and ensure that your pergola project is a success.

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