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 planning a new structure on a business premises
As a business, what are your rights around erecting temporary structures, large warehousing tents, or other semi-permanent structures on your premises? Are there specific rules relating to permitted developments for agricultural buildings or warehouses built on industrial land?
This page provides guidance on rights and obligations when planning to erect one of our tents on commercial, industrial or agricultural land, based on the General Permitted Development Order (GPDO) and other relevant legislation. Read on to understand what is considered to be a permitted development, and whether prior approval must be sought in all instances.
Note: Rules relating to permitted developments and planning permission for businesses vary across the United Kingdom. This article therefore provides only a general overview of the topic, with a focus on the planning system 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.
Our most popular storage tents
Temporary buildings for business use
A temporary structure is any building of 100m² or less that will be standing for no longer than 28 days in a calendar year. Marquees and pop up gazebos that will be used for staff parties, events, and other short-term uses therefore do not require prior approval.
Generally, our larger products, such as arched shelters, industrial tents, and container shelters will be standing for longer than a month.
While they are not termed temporary buildings according to the GDPO if they’re standing for more than 28 days, there are other criteria under which the development might be considered a permitted development where prior approval from a local authority is not needed.
Permitted development criteria for business uses
There are a number of criteria for permitted developments on commercial, agricultural and industrial premises that relate to the use of a building.
Agricultural buildings - what is and isn't considered a permitted development
Agricultural buildings built in rural areas are considered permitted developments according to schedule 2 part 6 of the GPDO when they have met a range of conditions. The conditions are quite detailed, but they are designed to allow most agricultural developments. It is recommended that farmers planning a material change on their farm go through the legislation to check off each criteria. The advice below is not relevant for any proposals for conversions relating to the use class of a property, such as barn conversions.
Planning permission for farms over 5 hectares in area:
For farms larger than 5 hectares the key tests for whether approval must be sought are:
- if the development includes a dwelling, or includes farm buildings that are not intended for agricultural use.
- if any part of the proposed structure would be within 25 metres of a metalled part of a trunk road or classified road
- if there has been no development that is classified as a change of use within the previous 10 years. (Check the link above for more details)
- if the development is over 1000m².
For significant developments under 1000 square metres, or developments in areas of natural interest, a farmer wishing to build an agricultural building or structure must apply to the local authority for a determination as to whether planning permission must be sought. This is a short (28 days) and inexpensive process, that may be required for larger developments, even if all other criteria are met. Work can begin only once a determination has been made. Approval will be granted if all conditions listed in the legislation are met.
Planning permission for a farm of less than 5 hectares:
For smaller farms, the rules are a little stricter. A planning application does not need to be submitted for the erection of an arched shelter used for farming or farm storage tent, either as a standalone structure or extension, if:
- the height of any existing farm building will be increased;
- the volume (in m3) of the original agricultural building would increase by more than 10%;
- any part of any new building will be situated more than 30 metres from the original building;
- if no change of use has taken place within the previous 10 years. (See the legislation for more details)
- the structure will be used for sleeping; and
- any part of the structure would be within 5 metres of any boundary.
Industrial buildings - specific rules allowing for development without prior approval
A planning application is not required for Industrial buildings according to schedule 2 part 7 of the GDPO, which deals with non-domestic extensions, alterations etc, when:
- No part of the structure is within 5m of the curtilage (boundary); and
- There is no reduction in the area for parked or turning vehicles; and
- The structure is not within the curtilage of a listed building; and
For new buildings,
- the floor space doesn't exceed 200m² (or 100m² on a site of special natural or scientific interest).
- if within 10m of the curtilage, the height doesn't exceed 5m.
- otherwise, the height doesn't exceed either 15m or the height of the highest existing building;
For extensions of buildings:
- for most areas, the floor space won't increase by more than 50% or 1000m² (or 25% and 1000m² for areas of scientific interest, and 10% and 500m² for areas of natural interest);
- if within 10m of the boundary, the height doesn't exceed 5m, and in other cases, doesn't exceed the height of the original building.
In addition, the plans must relate to a parcel of land that already contains an existing industrial building or warehouse
In our shop you can find a wide range of products that meet the above requirements. An extra wide 15.25m x 12m arched shelter for instance, has a floorspace under 200 square metres meeting the criteria for new industrial buildings. Structures that are less than 5m high include our 9.15m wide arched shelters, along with the majority of our industrial tents with a door height up to 4m high (please check measurements on the product pages).
Commercial use - when planning permission is required for commercial properties
Commercial planning permission will need to be granted if you are planning to extend a commercial property. Making an application for a permit is likely needed for extensions to a shop using a tent, given that permitted developments include only those where the alterations have a similar external appearance to those used for the existing building. Other relevant criteria for Class A that must be met to forego making an application to the planning authority are if the new building:
- has a floor space of more than either 100m² or 50% of the existing premises;
- is less than 4m in height;
- is within 2 metres of the curtilage of the property;
- extends beyond an existing shop front or would include an alteration to the shop front;
- consists of or includes the construction of a verandah, balcony or raised platform.
New rules for restaurants and pubs
In September 2021, the UK government began consultation on new proposals for restaurants and pubs, to allow them more flexibility to erect a marquee for outdoor seating without the requirement of obtaining planning permission.
In 2020, the government expanded allowances for permitted developments to include restaurants and pubs putting up marquees for outdoor dining. Previously a marquee could only be erected for a maximum of 28 days in a calendar year. As a temporary measure, this time limit was extended to 56 days, before being removed altogether in April 2021. In addition, pubs and restaurants in listed buildings were also able to erect marquees without needing to make an application to their planning authority.
The government is now seeking feedback on plans to set permanent rules for permitted developments that are more advantageous to businesses than prior to 2020. The proposals would see marquees for hospitality businesses considered to be permitted developments if they are less than 4m high, standing for less than 56 days in a year, and covering no more than 50% of the area of the existing buildings on the site.
The proposed changes and previous rules are summarised in the infographic below. All marquees on our site have a maximum height of 4m or less.
Our most popular industrial tents
Is permission also required under the building regulations?
Most business-related building work will also require a permit under the buidling regulations. The regulations are designed to ensure that alterations and building operations are both safe and energy efficient. As with planning permission, there are some building operations where a permit from your local council or other building control authority is not required.
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 such as building site offices
- Small detached buildings
Similar to the planning rules, under the building regulations a temporary building is a structure that remains standing for no more than 28 days.
New agricultural buildings are exempt if they are not used as a dwelling, and the distance to any building where there is sleeping accommodation is at least 1.5 times their height. In addition, they must have a fire exit that is no more than 30m from any point in a building.
Small detached buildings must be no higher than one storey, and less than 30m² in area.
For certain buildings (including those over 50 square metres, 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.
Building regulations are complicated and contain many exceptions. Our advice is to contact your local authority for more detailed guidance.
What to expect if planning or building applications need to be filed
Local planning authorities have a large number of applications to deal with. You should expect to wait at least 90 days before receiving a decision on whether the planning authority will grant a permit. It is possible to request a permit retrospectively if you can show that the use of the building was needed urgently. However, if the local planning authority refuses to issue a permit, you may be forced to return the land to its original condition. A great advantage of a tent, is that this should be no problem. Of course this will be a bigger issue if you have laid a foundation.
Given the importance of safety standards for obtaining a permit, a structure that is shown to be structurally sound, including specified snow and wind loads will help you to secure a permit as quickly as possible. The same goes for fire safety standards. All industrial tents and 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. Statics are provided with all arched shelters as a matter of course.
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.
Our Safety Plus Package is a comprehensive set of securing materials available for other products in the shop, where statics have not been calculated.
Other considerations that you may need to pay attention to when dawing up plans for your new premises, include:
- Fire protection
- Escape routes
- Height of railings
- Gradients of ramps
- The number of fire extinguishers
- Equipment and information signs
Do you still have questions about planning permission?
There are huge number of rules and exceptions when it comes to planning applications, permitted developments, and building regulations. You can get more advice on when permits are not required, or how to apply for a permit at the planning portal website. Alternatively you could look directly at the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (England) Order 2015 to determine if a planning application is necessary. If you have specific questions about our products, and their suitability for a project you might be planning, we're eager to help! Our staff will be happy to advise you on +4401183150873, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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