What planning permission do I need to build a cabin?

Planning can be a daunting prospect but at Life Space Cabins, we’re here to help.


Over the years we have built up a good knowledge base and understanding of our sector.

If you’re considering investing in a cabin to use as a summer house, garden office, luxury annexe, artist’s studio or holiday let, then you’ve probably started to wonder about planning permission.

As designers and makers of beautiful cabins we want our clients to enjoy the whole process from start to finish. As part of our service, we can guide you step-by-step through the planning and building regulations process and explaining the jargon. Our thorough approach reflects our values of Quality, Fun and Responsibility.

Here are some things to bear in mind when considering planning permission for your cabin.


Planning can often be perceived as a big hurdle but our approach means that we don’t shy away from bold, playful, ambitious projects – instead we put our thinking caps on, get creative and use our expertise to explore what can be done.

Having said that, we never cut corners or try to ‘get away’ with things. We don’t claim to be the ultimate authority or experts on planning and where an application is beyond our level of expertise and knowledge we will recommend a third party planning consultant guide us through the application process. This will give your project the best chance of gaining planning permission.

Basic Considerations

  • Don’t panic or start theorising about what will or won’t be possible. It’s best to start by thinking about what YOU want as a minimum for your cabin. Why do you want the cabin – what need will it fulfil or what problem will it solve? With these thoughts in mind, write a list of your ‘must haves’ and your ‘would likes’ for your cabin. Tell us what your dream is and we’ll see if we can make it happen.
  • Check the status of the land you wish to put a cabin on. Is the land classed as garden (domestic curtilage), agricultural or other? Does the area have any special considerations, for example is it an AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty), a conservation area or a national park? Is it near a SSSI (site of special or scientific interest) or a listed building? These are important considerations that will help to determine a planning strategy.
  • Business use. If you wish to rent out your cabin or treehouse then you will need planning permission to change its use to that of a business.
  • If the space is to be used as additional living space then you can apply for either an ancillary unit or an annexe. Quite simply, the difference between the two is a kitchen. The ancillary assumes that the guest will have use of the cooking facilities in the main dwelling. An annexe will be fully self contained. Both are able to have washing facilities (which would be subject to building regulations).
  • Agricultural Buildings. It is possible to obtain permission for spaces linked to the use of the land. For example if you own a piece of woodland you can obtain permission to build a woodland shelter to store tools and make a cup of tea. Read our “Can I build a Cabin in the woods?” post.
  • Caravans! Bear with us… The Caravan Act allows you to build a ‘caravan’ and depending on your needs this can be used to achieve a larger space as ancillary or annexe accommodation. There are key defining constraints we will have to design within but you will be surprised by how generous the space can be and remember… we don’t do boring!

What Next?

  • Be prepared to be flexible and/or invest in a planning strategy. It may be that the right approach is a multiple-step process to help you achieve your project goals.   There are some routes through planning that won’t require a full application. These may come under permitted development and the Caravan Act.   The latter allows you to build a structure defined as a ‘caravan’ and this can be used to achieve a very generous space as ancillary or annexe accommodation.
  • Remember that if you want to rent out your cabin as a holiday let/Airbnb then planning permission is required not just for the development of the building but also to change its use to that of a business (from private domestic use, for example). A cabin for your own use on your own private land is (usually) more straightforward.
  • Don’t get confused between planning permission (including permitted development) and building regulations. The first looks after the permission to build whilst the other is responsible for ensuring that buildings are safe and fit for purpose i.e. checking that the building is thermally efficient, structurally sound etc. We have explained more about this in our building regs post.
  • Additional general advice can also be found on the Planning Portal (make sure that you select the Welsh or English option as different rules apply) or by speaking to your local Building Control office.
  • Remember that we will guide our clients. If you’re a domestic client, we want to give you the cabin of your dreams that enhances your lifestyle and evolves with you. If you’re a commercial client running a glamping venture, we want to make sure you get long-term return on investment.

This page aims to inspire and 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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