Can I build a cabin in the woods?

Some initial guidance on what may or may not be allowed when it comes to building a cabin in the woods.

Buying your own piece of woodland and living there sounds like an idyllic dream. BUT there are some strict rules when it comes to building in woodland areas.

At Life Space Cabins, we receive a large volume of calls and emails on this topic and we know it’s a big dream for many of you. As a small business, unfortunately we don’t have the capacity or full knowledge to respond in detail to all speculative calls or emails on the subject.

We hope this blog will give you some initial guidance on what may or may not be allowed when it comes to building a cabin in the woods.

How are you planning to use your cabin in the woods?

If you own a piece of woodland you are allowed to build a cabin on this land for occasional use in order to maintain or work on the woodland. This might take the form of a tool shed; store; office; refuge or shelter. This would be allowed under Permitted Development but permission must be obtained from the local planning authority. However, the cabin cannot be used solely for leisure or educational purposes, it must primarily have a practical forestry purpose.


Getting permission for a dwelling in a woodland is extremely rare. There have been a few successful cases that have gained permission involving charcoal burners in the woodland which need 24-hour care but these permissions are very rare and they have only been granted to full-time foresters. If you were managing your woodland for primarily recreational reasons, or even conservation reasons, in all likelihood permission would be denied.

However…there’s a but…

Permitted Development does allow you to build a well-designed structure (of a certain size) and stay there ‘occasionally’ for up to 28 nights of the year. However, our understanding of this rule is that your reason to stay there must be for seasonal forestry purposes. For example, using your cabin as an overnight refuge whilst you manage and maintain the woodland.

You can find some really useful information, articles and resources at and in particular on their page about woodlands planning legislation

Planning Permission for Agricultural Land

On a related note, if you’re looking at ‘green site’ agricultural land, a full planning application is required. You would need to prove that a cabin is required to support agricultural purposes, or meet national planning policy objectives for your area.

Certainly, in terms of agriculture land, you may be able to take a longer view with a planning strategy and have multiple stages but this is dependent on land ownership, location in the UK, land use and planning policies

Next steps

Life Space Cabins has experience in providing planning guidance but we never claim to be experts. a planning consultant (local to you) is best placed to guide you through the planning process and score the likeliness for your requirements.

When Life Space Cabins can help in more detail

Once you have this guidance as well as land, a budget and an idea of what you wish to build for your cabin space we can help assist with the cabin design, planning drawings, design access statements for the planning application.

For your land search we can direct you to:

● – apparently there is an informative facebook group you can join.
● Sign up to local land agents such as Savills

For planning advice

Refer to other posts on our site and Planning Portal for up to date advice and information. As we said above it’s always best to seek professional advice from a planning consultant in your area.

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Do remember to sign up to our Life Space Cabins newsletter that way you won’t miss updates and useful information.

Cabin in the woods case studies

You can read first-hand about Martin Turner’s experience of owning woodland Martin manages the piece of Devon woodland that he and his family bought. They get immense pleasure from being a custodian of a little slice of England.

Follow us on Instagram @lifespacecabins to see regular updates of things that inspire us, new cabin designs, our spaces being built and cabin musings.

This page aims to promote an awareness of the route through planning for a smaller space, but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific professional advice.

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Moorshead Sawmills
Devon PL8 2ES, UK

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