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Temporary Structures like marquees or storage tents

In this guide, you can discover:

1. When planning permission is required

2. Whether building regulations apply

3. What to expect if you need to apply

Temporary structures: Legal aspects of erecting a tent

Are you interested in erecting a temporary building such as a gazebo or portable garage on your private property or rather a temporary structure, such as a marquee, industrial tent, or arched tent on a commercial property, farm, or industrial premises?

Planning permission rules when setting up a new structure in your backyard

Are temporary buildings such as large tents or lightweight halls such as party tents, storage tents or industrial tents allowed to be erected in your garden or business premises for days on end? And if so, only if it's temporary or can I leave my tent standing for years? Short of astro-physics, there is not much more complicated than sorting through the various rules and regulations around planning permission and building regulations in the UK.

This guidebook provides information on rights and obligations when erecting one of our marquees, portable garages or storage tents, based on the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) and other relevant legislation. Read on to understand when permission is required, and how you can best go about lodging an application.

Note: As the rules around planning permission vary across the four nations, this article only provides a general overview of the topic, with a focus on the rules in England. Applications for planning permission are considered by local planning authorities, so we recommend getting in contact with them at the earliest opportunity for the most detailed advice.

An exception for temporary structures: how temporary are we talking?

Marquees can stand for 28 days without a permit

A temporary structure is a building of less than 100m² that will be standing for no longer than 28 days in a calendar year. This makes things easy when we're talking about marquees and pop up gazebos that will be used for garden parties, celebrations, or other short-term, temporary uses. These are clearly temporary buildings. In this case you do not need to apply for planning permission. For things like industrial tents, portable garages, or marquees and gazebos that will be standing for longer than a month, we need to look deeper into the rules to decide if planning permission is required.

Other exceptions where planning permission is not required

Some buildings that will stand for longer than 28 days, can also be built providing that they meet a number of criteria. For private dwellings (i.e your home and garden) these include outbuildings and some extensions.


Outbuildings like gazebos don't need a permit if they meet certain criteria

An outbuilding is a smaller building on your private property that is not connected to the main building. Common outbuildings include garages, garden sheds, gazebos and pergolas, playhouses, and swimming pool enclosures. There is no need to apply for planning permission for the erection of an outbuilding if the building will meet the following requirements. Here are the four key rules to pay attention to:

  1. The building must be situated behind the front wall of your home.
  2. It should be no higher than 2.5 meters at the eaves, and 4 meters at the apex (for a double pitched roof).
  3. If the building is situated within 2 meters of the property boundary (the curtilage of the house), the building must be no higher than 2.5 meters at the apex.
  4. No more than half the total area of land around the original house (this includes any extensions built after 1948) would be covered by extensions, decking, containers and/or outbuildings.

There are stricter conditions for developments within National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites. In these areas, planning permission is required if the total built-on area between the property boundary and the area within 20 meters of the house exceeds 10m². In addition, an application must be made for development between the sides of the house, and the side boundary.


In our shop you can find a wide range of products that meet the above requirements. For instance, all marquees and storage tents with a side height of 2m, can be built away from the boundary as the roof is less than 4m high at the apex. Our small portable garages with a width of 1.6-2.4m and premium and economy garages with a width of 3.3m meanwhile have a roof height less than 2.5m and are therefore suitable for pitching close to the property boundary.


Using a tent or gazebo structure, such as a marquee or garden gazebo to extend your house would most likely require planning permission. There are a range of criteria that can be met that allow you to build an extension without needing to apply for a permit. However, these include a provision that the materials used for the extension should be of a similar appearance to those of the existing dwelling.

When do building regulations apply?

Planning permission is concerned with the spacial and aesthetic elements of new buildings and extensions. Building regulations on the other hand, are designed to ensure that buildings and alterations are safe and energy efficient where needed. It is therefore necessary to consider both planning regulations, and building regulations. As with planning permission, there are also certain structures that may be built, where there is no requirement to make an application for permission from your local council or other building control authority.

Criteria where a structure is exempt from the requirement to obtain permission under the building regulations:

  • Temporary buildings
  • Buildings that are not normally frequented by people
  • Agricultural Buildings
  • Ancillary buildings used on construction sites
  • Small detached buildings
  • Extensions
Buildings need to meet fire safety requirements

Under the regulations a temporary building is, again, a structure that remains standing for no more than 28 days. Small detached buildings are those that are no higher than one storey, and less than 30m² in area, and the purpose of the shed should not be for sleeping. The structure must be more than a meter from the boundary and must be made of non-combustible material. The materials PE and PVC are therefore well suited, given that they are highly fire retardant. To ensure compliance, certified fireproof tents are also available in our shop.

For certain buildings (including those over 50m², and those with either high energy demand or those that will stand in place for over 2 years), a permit may still need to be granted.

What to expect if planning or building applications need to be filed

Buildings must be shown to be stable to gain building permits

Local planning authorities deal with a large number of applications. You can expect to wait a matter of months before finding out if the planning authority will grant a permit. While it is usually possible to request a permit retrospectively if you can show that the use of the building was needed urgently. If the local planning authority decides to refuse to issue a permit, you may be forced to return the land to its original condition. Naturally, if you have installed a tent or gazebo, this is generally not an issue.

Safety standards under the building regulations

Because safety is an important consideration in obtaining approval in relation to the building regulations, a structure that can be shown to be structurally sound, including specified snow and wind loads, while meeting fire safety standards, will help you to secure a permit as quickly as possible. The industrial tents, along with many of the portable garages in our shop are available with extra securing materials and a structural analysis prepared by German engineers that stipulates the maximum wind and snow loads of the product. In our shop this is referred to as statics, which generally includes tie down straps, strong anchors, the load analysis and other supporting material. If a tent requiring a permit does not have a structural analysis from the factory, it may be necessary to have it approved by an expert before it can be erected.

In addition, depending on the nature of your planned or proposed structure and its intended use, you may need to consider regulations relating to:

  • Fire protection
  • Escape routes
  • Height of railings
  • Gradients of ramps
  • Lighting
  • The number of fire extinguishers
  • Equipment and information signs

The best way to find out which documents you need to submit when requesting a permit is to contact your respective local planning authority. In addition, further guidance from the Government on making a planning application is provided on the planning portal website.

A summary of exceptions to the requirement to obtain planning permission or a building permit

How we can help you with temporary or semi-permanent buildings

Find a range of storage solutions for your garden at House of Tents

Do you have questions about the use of temporary buildings and competent authorities? Or would you like to know more about our marquees or our industrial tents with statics? Our staff will be happy to assist you on +4401183150873, or by e-mail at

We look forward to your call

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