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The Complete Guide to Holiday Let Planning Permission

Due to travel restrictions imposed during the Covid-19 pandemic, the market for British holidays has grown, resulting in an increased demand for holiday properties in many areas across the UK. Farmers and land owners are realising the unlocked potential in their previously disused acreages, with lodges, log cabins and temporary structures being turned into successful holiday homes as a way of generating more income.

But before you begin to build that annex in your back garden, you need know what the rules are around planning permission for holiday lets.
In this post we’ll delve into the different aspects of planning permission for holiday lets and how they might affect your holiday let business.

What is Planning Permission for Holiday Lets?

What is planning permission and why might you need it for your holiday letting business?

An application for planning permission is only required when the proposed changes meet the statutory definition of ‘development’, and it can also include permission for things like demolition.

There are specific restrictions that apply to certain types of structures, and the purpose of the building is also taken into account. If you’re planning on building a structure that’s intended to receive paying guests, you need to make sure that the planning permission approves this use for the structure.

It’s is usually granted in the form of a buildings license that will detail the proposed plan. Carrying out work without planning permission is risky and it’s common to see demolition of un-authorized buildings, so it’s best to make sure that you have had all your building work approved before you begin.

Stages of planning application

Stages of planning applications for holiday lets

Applying for planning permission can be a very daunting prospect. It’s not a straight forward process so you need be sure that you prepare for what lies ahead.
There are two types of applications: full planning permission and outline planning permission. Make sure you understand which one you need to apply for.
Applications for full planning permission are based on detailed proposals of the development, outline planning permissions is used to obtain a decision based on the proposal of general principles. 
Whilst some councils will differ, the 4 main stages of planning permission are:
  1. Contact your local council for an initial conversation.
    It would be beneficial to have a plan that you can specify, even if you are just making initial enquiries at this early stage. Your local council can provide you with guidance for your local area.
  2. Begin speaking with design teams or architects.
    You’ll need to think about how your going to carry out your plans. Will you need an architect? Are you planning on purchasing a pre-built structure? Do you know where you will get your supplies?
  3. Submit your plans to the council.
    Once you have finalized your plans, you need to submit them in full to the local council and then wait for approval. Be aware that it can take at least 8 weeks to get a decision on the plans, so you need to factor for this timescale. Leave time for re-submitting amendments if necessary.
  4. Have an advisor visit the land to discuss your holiday let plans.
    At this stage, one of our property consultants will be happy to come and visit you to advise what you can expect from the location in terms of bookings and expected income.

For your application to be considered by the local council, you will need to provide payment of the correct fee in full, all essential plans of the site in full, the required supporting documentation and completion of the form in full.

Note: It’s best to supply an architectural drawing of the existing floor plan alongside the floor-plan that your are proposing for development.

What can affect planning permission being rejected?

planning for holiday lets - green belt landThere are various reasons why your request may be rejected, and often some of these reasons can be unique to the local authorities. However, some of the most common reasons include:

  • The location
    If the land is part of a green belt, a national park, an area of outstanding natural beauty, or a heritage site.
  • Nearby properties
    If a property on the land is listed this can affect approval. If you are using the revenue from the potential holiday letting to supplement repairs of the listed building, it is worth mentioning this in your application.
  • Local Plans and Neighbourhood Plans
    These directives are created by communities to allow them to shape the development and growth of the local area. They are often used when determining planning applications, for example if your venture fits into their vision then you will not need planning permission.

The type of permission required can be dependent on what sort of holiday let you are considering building. If you are purchasing a temporary structure, for example, you may not require any planning permission at all. Let’s take a closer look.

Converting and outbuilding into a holiday let

Converting unused or derelict outbuildings into holiday homes is a great way to generate another source of income and is a popular choice for farmers or land owners wishing to diversify their land. Planning permission will be required for any alterations to your outbuildings and a ‘Change of Use’ may need to be applied for.

Building a Holiday Let in Your Garden

With the UK holiday industry in boom, many people are considering the option of turning their spare outside garden space into a holiday letting business. It’s a great idea and a very exciting prospect, but it does come with some rules and regulations that you may not be aware of.

Buildings that are located in peoples gardens are often referred to as a garden annex. Structures of this type are very popular because they are generally very affordable.

What is the Caravan Act and how will it affect your garden structure?

Under the Caravan Planning Act, you are not required to have planning permission if the structure can be moved, but if you are using it for business purposes, then you will require full planning permission.

Choosing to build a mobile structure is a very flexible option. This kind of annex can cost approximately £30,000, and can be ordered in various different layouts and sizes.

Most commonly they will include a living space, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom. They can come with ground work, heating and internet and still not require planning permission under the caravan act.

The maximum dimensions allowed under the act in England and Wales are;

Depth –  6.8metres (22 feet)
Length – 20metres (65 feet)
Height – 3.05metres (10 feet)

The maximum dimensions allowed under the act in Scotland and Northern Ireland are;

Length – 18.2metres(60 feet)
Depth  – 6.09metres (20 feet)
Height-  3.04metres (10feet)

It’s a great option if you are unsure if you want to commit to a business, because yon can purchase and build the structure with out planning permission, then apply for permission if you choose to go ahead with a holiday let business.

Likewise, if you chose to stop running your holiday let business, the entire structure can be sold and moved in one piece.

Do I need planning permission for a lodge or log cabin?

Lodges and log cabins have long been popular choices for many wanting to escape busy city life in favour of a calmer rural setting. But what planning permission will you need?

It will depend on factors such as how large the structure is, how close your structure will be to the boundary of your land and what the regulations are in your local area. The use of the structure as a holiday let will require full planning permission.

You’ll also need to consider the materials that you will be using for the roofing and be very careful about the positioning of the structure on your land.

You may still be able to build a lodge or a log cabin without planning permission, but certain rules will apply. For example, in England, you wont need planning permission if:

  • Your log cabin is built within 2m of a boundary and does not exceed a max height of 2.5m
  • Your log cabin does not have any verandas, balconies or raised platforms exceeding 0.3m in height
  • Your log cabin is single storey

You may be able to purchase and construct a log cabin or lodge without planning permission based on the criteria above, but as mentioned, the most significant regulation will be with regards to the intent for the structure. If you decide to turn it into a holiday let, you’ll need to apply for a ‘change of use’ permit.

Note: If you have neighbours that might be impacted by the height or position, it may be worth having a conversation with them as early on as possible, to save any disputes further down the line.

This is especially recommended for holiday letting, because disgruntled neighbours can have a significant impact on a holiday letting business.

Converting a residential property into a holiday let?

Letting out your residential property as a holiday let can be a very lucrative business idea, but you could be breaching planning law rules if you let your residential property out without checking the rules and regulations that apply to the building in question.

Usually, you’ll require planning permission to materially change the use of the property and this needs to be obtained from the local council.

What is the cost of planning permission?

You’ll need to consider the cost of the planning permission in your area and make sure that you factor this into your overall financial plan for your business. Here are the current costs for planning permission applications by area:

England: A full planning permission application for a new single-family house in England costs £426.50. If altering or extending a single dwelling or a flat, the full planning permission application fee is £206; if altered or extended two or more dwellings/flats, the full planning permission application fee is £407.

There is a cost of £426 for an outline planning application in England for every 0.1 hectare (up to 2.5 hectares), whereas a householder application for only more minor changes to a single dwelling house is only £206.

Wales: The fees for a full planning permission application on a new single dwelling house are slightly higher in Wales at £460. A householder application for outline permission costs £230, and an application for 0.1 hectare costs £460.

Scotland: A full permission application on a new house as well as an outline application costs £401 in Scotland, while a householder application costs £202.

Do I need planning permission for a yurt or shepherd’s hut?

Shepherds huts and yurts can make excellent, unique holiday escapes and they are the most common types of ‘temporary structures’ that are used in the holiday letting business.

Though they can fall under the rules and regulations of the Caravan Act, some structures might still require you to obtain planning permission despite the fact that the building isn’t permanent.

Planning permission will be required if:

  • The building’s external appearance is materially affected by the structure
  • When the building occupies more than 25% of the available space on your property
  • If the temporary structure is within 5 meters of your site boundaries
  • For temporary buildings that will be occupied for more than 28 days
  • If the floor space exceeds 200 square meters
  • In the event that the assembled structure reduces the space available for parking or manoeuvring vehicles
If the structure stays up for longer than 28 days, you may need to apply for a ‘Change of Use’ permit. Read further information about when planning permission required .

Important things to note

  • If your application is approved, it lasts for three years. After this period you will have to apply a second time.
  • If denied, the council will always give you reasons behind this decision. It can be worth taking these observations into account and altering the plans to the requirements, then resubmitting.
  • If you are purchasing a temporary structure, make sure that the company has attained the British Standard to endure that safety regulations have been adhered to.
  • If you are hoping to join Sykes, we would require each property to be fully self-contained, with a bathroom and self-catering kitchen.
  • The cost of planning permission varies dependent on which country the land is based in. It is best to check with your local authority for an exact figure.

Funding and Grants

There have been many various forms of funding available for people in rural areas to diversify and expand their businesses:

Rural Development Programme for England

For projects that create jobs, help your business to grow and benefit the rural community you can apply for LEADER funding. You can visit the government website to find out more about this funding and if it could help you and your holiday let business.

Scottish Rural Development Programme

The SRDP aims to invest millions over 7 years to support various projects such as enhancing the rural community through hospitality and tourism. The programme offers support with education and information as well by providing resources to help farmers innovate for sustainable economic growth.

To find out if your holiday letting business could be eligible for a grant or other support, visit their website here.

Rural Business Development Grant Scheme in Northern Ireland

The Rural Business Development Grant scheme is available to support smaller rural businesses with sustainable plans for development by providing small capital grants for micro businesses.

Funded by the Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, it can provide up to 50% of capital costs up to a maximum of £4,999. The scheme is managed by local councils, so get in touch with them to find out if you can benefit from this scheme when setting up your holiday letting business.

Let your property with Sykes and earn up to £125,000 per year*

  • Join over 15,000 holiday properties already working with Sykes Cottages
  • We welcome over 26 million web visitors a year
  • Many of our owners achieve more than 45 bookings a year
  • We specialise in turning your holiday property into a profitable year-round income for you

*Based on a 7 bedroom property in the Lake District with bookings between October 2017 to September 2018.

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