Vessel Planning Guidance

Is Planning Permission Required?

Understanding whether a Vessel Pod requires planning permission can be difficult and confusing.  Our clear and comprehensive guide makes it easy to understand what the rules are, and what you can construct at your property without planning permission.

Intended Use of Pod

One of key factors in determining if planning permission is required for your Pod is its intended use. 

If you intend to use your Pod as a home office, gym, games room or something similar then you may benefit from permitted development rights.  If you plan to install a Pod with necessities that are usually associated with the main house, such as a toilet and shower, or kitchen, then this may no longer be considered incidental to the enjoyment of the main dwelling and planning permission is likely to be required. See our Note on planning permission. 

Permitted development rights cover outbuildings or any build that could be considered ‘incidental’ to the property. Essentially, they’re anything that could be perceived as an addition to the main home.

Permitted Development criteria:

  • Not  self-contained living accommodation.
  • Must be single storey with maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for any other roof.
  • If within 2 metres of a boundary then maximum height of 2.5 metres.
  • No verandas, balconies or raised platforms (a platform must not exceed 0.3 metres in height)
  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house”* would be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites the maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers and pools more than 20 metres from the house to be limited to 10 square metres
  • On designated land* buildings, enclosures, containers and pools at the side of properties will require planning permission.
  • If within the curtilage of listed buildings any outbuilding will require planning permission.

*Designated land includes national parks and the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, conservation areas and World Heritage Sites.

If the Podis considered to be permitted development, it’s still important to ensure that it meets the criteria for permitted development rights. Any deviation from the criteria may require planning permission. It’s also crucial to comply with the Building Regulations, which set standards for the construction of buildings to ensure their safety and energy efficiency.

What if I want to use my Pod as living accommodation, do I need planning permission?

If the Pod is intended to be used as separate living accommodation, then planning permission is likely to be required.  This includes Pods that are designed to be used as self-contained homes, holiday homes or permanent residences.

There are however, some exceptions to this.  For example, if the Pod is intended to be used by a family member, such as an elderly parent or dependant relative, and it meets certain criteria, it may be considered ancillary accommodation and may not require planning permission.  The criteria for ancillary accommodation usually includes:

  • being within the curtilage of the main dwelling i.e. there’s a relationship with the main dwelling;
  • should be incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house i.e. in addition to the house but not as someone’s separate dwelling
  • subordinate to the main dwelling,
  • being occupied by a family member, and
  • not being sold or let as a separate dwelling.

These are normally assessed on a case by case basis.

What about the Caravan Act?

Another possible option is the Caravan Act.  In some cases mobile homes can benefit from more relaxed restrictions as they are a temporary structure that can be moved.

In respect of the Caravan Sites Act 1968, the term ‘caravan’ is described as being:

  • No more than 20 meters in length
  • No more than 6.8 meters in width
  • No more than 3.05 meters in height
  • Must be capable of being moved by road from one place to another, whether being towed or being transported.
  • Cant be made up of more than 2 sections.

With the Caravan Act you are applying to site a temporary building on the land not develop it.The annex must be built as a mobile home and applications under the Caravan Act can be refused.  A Certificate of Lawfulness is usually issued under the Caravan Act. This route is helpful for those who live in an area restricted by a planning designation such as the Green Belt where new buildings are resisted or where the council have a restrictive annexe policy.

If you are unsure if your planned Pod falls into the category of ‘permitted development’ or if you are unsure if planning permission is required, please contact us at, [email protected] or alternatively your local planning authority.

Other Considerations

Building Regs

A small detached building in a garden won’t usually require building regs if the floor area of the building is less than 15sqm and contains no sleeping accommodation. 

If the floor area of the building is between 15 sqm and 30sqm, you will not normally be required to apply for building regulations approval providing that the building contains no sleeping accommodation and is either at least one metre from any boundary or it is constructed substantially of non-combustible materials.