Working from home – do I need planning permission?

We have been helping many home based business recently who have had a knock on the door from a Planning Enforcement Officer. Recent cases include:

  • Nail salon
  • Hairdresser
  • Private Tutor
  • Music Teacher
  • Bed and Breakfast
  • EBay business
  • Childminders

In all of these cases the Council took the view that the business related ‘coming and goings’ represented a material change of use, and as such planning permission was required. On the whole, the Council took the view that if a client visits your home then you need planning permission to operate.

This is, quite frankly, incorrect.  It has long been common practice to allow ancillary businesses to operate from home with ‘clients’ visiting the premises. Yes, there is a point at which the level of activity may alter the residential character of the area, but that level is much, much higher than many Councils allow for.

We have identified a range of appeal cases, legal comment, and precedent to support our assertion that a business operating from home does not automatically require planning permission if  ‘clients’ start arriving at the premises.

Help – an enforcement officer has visited. What should I do?

If you receive a visit from an enforcement officer then we recommend you contact us as soon as possible. We will begin by trying to informally explain the situation to the enforcement officer, and encourage them to close the enforcement case. It may be that they wish to formally test our assertion that planning permission is not required, at which stage we can prepare  and submit a Certificate of Lawfulness for an Existing Use (CLEUD). This process attracts an application fee and takes 8 weeks to reach a decision.

Early intervention is vital, and it is much better to tackle the issues early rather than waiting for an enforcement notice to arrive. If you receive such a notice, this can be successfully appealed, but the process is more expensive and the risks higher.

Some larger home based businesses will require planning permission, in which case we can help you prepare and submit the planning application, and also try to minimise onerous planning conditions, such as opening hours, parking restrictions etc.

Should you wish to discuss your case with an expert please call 01403 330737 or alternatively you can email direct to