Council takes planning action against homeowner who erected tent

A house with a side passage gate
A homeowner in Westcliff is facing enforcement action against their 5.3m high, 8.1m wide 'tent' structure in their garden that was put up without planning permission (Image credit: Google Earth)

A homeowner is facing enforcement action due to a large tent they erected on their property.

Despite the homeowner's claim that the structure is used for storing "domestic paraphernalia", planning officers from Southend Council have issued an enforcement notice on the property in Fairfax Drive, Westcliff, in Essex, after rejecting a retrospective planning application.

This action was deemed necessary and in the public interest by the council due to the perceived harm caused by the structure, which was erected without planning permission.

Why did the homeowner erect the tent?

The homeowner claims the tent is used for storing various “domestic paraphernalia” such as vehicles, tools, ladders, and paddleboards.

The large structure with fabric covering is some 5.3m high, 8.1m wide and 8m deep and it is accessible through a side gate and is located in the back garden of the property.

The tent is made from a metal frame bolted to the hard-standing floor and has a fabric-type material covering. There are openings in the south elevation including one large enough to allow a vehicle to enter.

A grey tent with steel structure with a green forklift and white van inside

Photographs from the council show the structure is used for parking a van and a forklift vehicle (Image credit: Southend Council)

Why did they need to apply for retrospective planning permission?

The homeowner sought a retrospective planning application for the retention of a temporary structure for five years after they had their previous planning permission refused.

The previous application in March 2023, which was for the same structure with the only change being to make it permanent, was rejected by the council as it was deemed it would be "harmful to the area's appearance".

Due to its metal frame, its scale and being affixed by bolts to the hardstanding the structure is considered to constitute development as defined under Section 55 of the Town and Country Planning Act and therefore not considered to fall within the scope of permitted development.

Any building that stands for more than 28 days is considered a temporary structure and therefore will require planning permission as per Class A, Part 4 of the Town and Country Planning Order 2015.

The application was made after a complaint was received by the Council in April 2023 alleging a structure had been erected. The owner of the land was advised this was unauthorised, which resulted in the submission of a retrospective planning application.

A tent is at the back of a garden which is accessed by a side gate by the house

The 'tent' can be accessed through a side gate and is located in the back garden of the property (Image credit: Southend Council)

Why are the council able to take enforcement action?

Southend Council not only denied the application but announced their intention to seek enforcement action against the homeowner.

The council found the structure was a breach of planning controls due to the erection of a framed structure. They ruled: "The development by reason of its siting, scale, appearance and form, results in a conspicuously incongruous development significantly out of keeping with its context and significantly harmful to the character and appearance of its surroundings."

They added, "The development results in an undue sense of enclosure and loss of outlook significantly harmful to the amenities" to the neighbours of the structure.

This was due to the homeowner ignoring the previous planning decision by the council, erecting the structure knowingly without proper permission, and causing a disturbance to other residents of the area.

They ruled it was in the "public interest to pursue enforcement action" given the harm the structure was causing to the area. They claimed: "Enforcement action in this case aims to secure removal of the unauthorised structure in its entirety and to remove from site all materials resulting from compliance with that."

The owner has been given three months to remove the structure and the materials on the site.

Joseph Mullane
News Editor

News Editor Joseph has previously written for Today’s Media and Chambers & Partners, focusing on news for conveyancers and industry professionals.  Joseph has just started his own self build project, building his own home on his family’s farm with planning permission for a timber frame, three-bedroom house in a one-acre field. The foundation work has already begun and he hopes to have the home built in the next year. Prior to this he renovated his family's home as well as doing several DIY projects, including installing a shower, building sheds, and livestock fences and shelters for the farm’s animals. Outside of homebuilding, Joseph loves rugby and has written for Rugby World, the world’s largest rugby magazine.