Homeowner sparks debate after outright refusing to put in planning application for garden sheds

A white painted house with a stone wall in front
The council is now decided whether or not to pursue enforcement action (Image credit: Google Earth)

A homeowner has left councillors scratching their heads after outright refusing to  submit any kind of planning application for a couple of sheds and a fence he has erected on his property.

The structures, in Busby, Glasgow, were all said to be in keeping with the area during a local council debate on the matter but, despite repeat requests from the council, the owner continues to refuse to put in retrospective planning permission, leaving the council with no choice but to consider enforcement action out of principle.

We explore why the sheds and fence needed planning permissions as well as how the councillors have responded to the unusual case and their concerns of a planning "free for all".

Why did the shed need planning permission?

The homeowner put up two timber outbuildings, described by council officials as a "shed or a building to house a hot tub".

He also installed a two metre high fence, but none of this was completed with planning permission, even though planning permission for sheds is needed if the shed covers more than 50% of the land around house, which in this case they did.

Plans for the shed were initially submitted in March, but then withdrawn the following day with officials saying this was because the landowner said they didn't think they should need planning permission.

Planning permission for fences is also required when the fence is is installed over a certain height.

A timber shed in a garden

Sheds in gardens require planning if the total area covers greater than 50% of the total land around the house (Image credit: Getty Images)

Concerns case could lead to planning 'free for all'

In June, East Renfrewshire Council issued a formal notice for the owner to submit a retrospective planning application, but this was ignored.

Planning officers then told councillors that failure to submit the application should not automatically require the planning service to pursue enforcement action, stating: “[it] does not mean the planning service is required to serve an enforcement notice to seek removal of the structures.”

This was in part due to  planners deciding that the buildings would not be "out of character" with the residential use of the site and would not significantly contribute to noise and disturbance. They also deemed the development to be acceptable in terms of appearance.

However, this left councillors fearing the case could lead to a planning "free for all" in the area if no action was taken against the homeowner for ignoring the requests for a planning application.

Councillors left bewildered about what to do next

Despite the recommendation from planning officials to take no further action against the resident, the council rejected it, citing complaints from neighbours and potential consequences for future planning applications.

Councillor Annette Ireland expressed her belief in the planners assessment that the development does negatively affect the public amenity in neighbouring properties and stated “I have never known anyone refuse to put in a planning application and say they just don’t think they should".

Councillor Paul Edlin commented on the homeowner's disregard for regulations and argued against allowing the buildings to remain as they are, fearing it could lead to a "free-for-all" with other residents bypassing planning permission.

Councillor Andrew Morrison, while having some sympathy for the planning officers' recommendation, moved that it not be accepted, as he stated: “The council is facing tight budgets, you are tight in terms of manpower, but I actually think the elected members would be doing you a disservice by going for that.

“I think we’d be giving you vastly more work in future years because, as Councillor Edlin said, it gives a green light to other people to consider planning as an optional extra, rather than a legal requirement which people should comply with.”

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.