|Planning permission for temporary buildings
Temporary buildings provide an overwhelming amount of flexibility for industrial and commercial
businesses to extend their storage and operational space at the drop of a hat and for as little or
as long as required. As a quick interim measure or a long-term solution these unique structures
reduce commitment and therefore risk – critical in today’s uncertain economy.
Being much cheaper than a permanent building and with a method of installation similar to that
of marquee (buildings anchor down to level hard standing without needing ground works), the
question of quality and durability is often raised. The quality of a temporary building, however, is
comparable to a permanent structure in terms of UK snow and wind loadings. In simple terms this
means they can be in continual use from 3 months to 10+ years meeting full approval of UK Building
This flexibility and temporary aspect often leads to misconceptions and confusion when it comes
to planning permission. The basic rule of thumb is any building in situ for more than 28 days will
require permission. There are however some more detailed criteria and also exemptions that we
can look at further.
The first step is to understand what constitutes a ‘building’ as some development might fall outside
planning in this regard. A building that requires planning is something that has to be built on site,
has a degree of permanence so it can only be removed by pulling down or taking to pieces and
whether it is physically affixed to the ground.
Once this has been established, the main exemption for planning would be a site where
development work has already been granted planning permission. Site offices or buildings required
for the building or refurbishment project on this site would therefore be exempt.
In the case of an emergency retrospective planning permission can be applied for but it does run the
risk of have the building changed or worse still removed. Any retrospective application, especially
after fire damage or in connection with local business growth, will go down more favourably with
the council if they are aware from the onset the nature of the application.
A few temporary building providers will offer the option of a planning service at a nominal cost. The
majority will and certainly should help with scaled plans and drawings of the building to form part of
For users of temporary buildings who decide to undergo the planning application in-house, good,
regular communication with the planning officer can often help reduce delays and the need for
additional documentation to be provided late on in the process.