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How to Build on your Garden


Building in your garden is one of the most obvious ways to get your hands on an oak framed building. You can save yourself a whole heap of money on buying more land, you don’t have to source any accommodation during the build and you can pretty much continue living how you were whilst construction continues.


Way back when, under a Labour government, rules and regulations were relaxed around gardens leading to a rise in small homes being built into tight spaces. The rise in small dwellings was quickly quelled in 2010 when the Coalition government at the time changed the law to state that gardens no longer classified as brownfield sites under the National Planning Policy Framework.


This doesn’t mean that Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) are not totally against any form of garden development. Some LPAs even encourage through guidance and tips for self-builders.


The most important word to describe the current policy is ‘appropriate’. Applications to LPAs need to have their size, scale, purpose and use heavily justified before they are approved. Single dwellings tend to carry more favour with LPAs and any adverse impact on the surrounding area will lead to immediate rejection.


Self-building is a process of jumping through many different forms of legal loopholes. In the case of building on your garden, a planning consultant might not be the worst direction to take. Here are a few hints and tips to get the ball rolling.



If you’re intending to build a space for family members to move into then you might want to opt for an annexe. Annexes come under a different form of planning permission and do come with their own restrictions. For instance, the annexe must become part of the deeds for the original house to prevent it from being sold separately and its size will be much less than a stand-alone house. However, you find that restrictions are less stringent when you opt for an annexe over a single stand-alone dwelling.




Do you plan on moving straight into your new single dwelling property? If you don’t then you might find a number of tax changes will start to kick in. For instance, should the property be built for selling then you will need to pay an income tax as a ‘developer’. There will also be an uplift in your tax should you receive planning permission for your plot. If you do sell your new property then you will also need to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT). Should you move into your new garden-based home you will be exempt from CGT.

Ransom Strip

How will the access and services work for your new garden home? Are you going to use the same driveway you share with your neighbour? If so, you might want to check how many properties are legally allowed to use that driveway. A ransom strip is when another party owns land that is needed to maintain or access your new property. In the case of shared services or driveways, you may need to check the Land Registry to be sure you are not exceeding the current legal level. If you are, you will need to pay the other parties or come to an agreement to ensure you are legally sound.



Covenants are restrictions put on your property by a previous owner and can again be found in your local Land Registry. The most relevant form of restriction here is one that prevents the development of your garden. It isn’t a simple process to remove a covenant but there is a possibility to pay off the beneficiaries of any changes to get them through.

If it is not possible to locate the beneficiaries then a solicitor can arrange a procedure called a premium indemnity policy. You could also go down the route of appealing to your Local Lands Tribunal on the grounds that the covenant in place is no longer relevant.