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Demystifying the Garden Bar: A Comprehensive Guide to Planning Permission in the UK

Are you considering adding a garden bar to your property in the UK? Before you start envisioning yourself sipping cocktails in the sun, it’s crucial to understand the ins and outs of planning permission. Navigating through the often confusing world of regulations can be daunting, but fear not! This comprehensive guide is here to demystify the process and help you turn your garden bar dreams into a reality. From understanding the different types of planning permission to knowing what factors may affect your application, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know. Whether you’re a homeowner looking to create a cosy outdoor space or a business owner wanting to expand your offerings, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to successfully navigate the planning permission journey. So grab a cup of tea and let’s dive in to unravel the secrets of the garden bar planning permission in the UK!

Understanding the Garden Bar: What is it?

Garden bars have become increasingly popular in the UK, offering homeowners and businesses alike the opportunity to create a unique outdoor space for relaxation and entertainment. A garden bar is essentially a structure located within the garden area that is specifically designed to serve as a bar or a similar social space. It can range from a small, intimate setup to a larger, more elaborate structure, depending on your preferences and needs. These bars often feature seating areas, a counter or serving area, storage space for drinks and glassware, and sometimes even a small kitchenette. Whether you’re looking to create a cosy corner for evening drinks or a full-scale bar experience right in your backyard, a garden bar can be a fantastic addition to any property.

When it comes to planning permission for a garden bar, there are several factors to consider. The rules and regulations can vary depending on the location, size, and design of the structure. In the next section, we’ll explore whether you need planning permission for a garden bar and what the rules and restrictions may be.

Do you need planning permission for a Garden Bar?

One of the first questions that may come to mind when considering a garden bar is whether you need planning permission. The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the size and design of the structure, the intended use, and the regulations set by your local planning authority. In some cases, you may be able to build a garden bar without the need for planning permission, while in other cases, you may have to go through the application process.

In general, if your garden bar falls within the category of “permitted development,” you won’t need planning permission. Permitted development rights allow you to make certain changes and additions to your property without seeking formal approval from the local planning authority. However, it’s important to note that these rights come with limitations and conditions, and it’s essential to ensure that your garden bar meets all the necessary criteria.

Permitted Development Rights for Garden Bars

Permitted development rights allow homeowners to make certain changes to their property without going through the full planning permission process. This means that you can build a garden bar within certain limits and conditions without seeking formal approval. However, it’s crucial to understand the specific rules and restrictions that apply to garden bars to ensure compliance with the regulations.

The key factors that determine whether your garden bar qualifies as permitted development include its size, height, location within the property, and whether it will be used for commercial purposes. Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors:

Size: The size of your garden bar will play a significant role in determining whether it falls within permitted development rights. Generally, the structure must not exceed a certain floor area, which is usually measured in square meters. The specific limits can vary depending on the location and the presence of other outbuildings on the property.

Height: The height of the garden bar is another important consideration. Most planning authorities have restrictions on the maximum height of structures that can be built without planning permission. It’s essential to ensure that your garden bar does not exceed the permitted height limits to avoid potential issues with the authorities.

Location within the property: The location of the garden bar within your property can also affect whether it falls under permitted development rights. Some authorities have specific requirements regarding the distance between the structure and the boundary of the property or other buildings. It’s crucial to be aware of these requirements and ensure compliance.

Commercial use: If you’re planning to use your garden bar for commercial purposes, such as running a business or serving alcohol, different rules may apply. In some cases, you may require additional permissions or licenses beyond the scope of permitted development rights. It’s important to check with your local planning authority and any relevant regulatory bodies to ensure compliance with all the necessary regulations.

Now that we’ve covered the basics of permitted development rights for garden bars, let’s move on to the process of applying for planning permission if your project does not fall within the permitted development criteria.

Applying for planning permission for a Garden Bar

If your garden bar does not meet the criteria for permitted development, or if you simply prefer to have the peace of mind that comes with formal approval, you’ll need to apply for planning permission. The application process involves submitting a detailed proposal to your local planning authority, outlining your plans for the garden bar and providing any necessary supporting documents.

The planning permission application typically requires the submission of several documents, including architectural drawings, site plans, and a design and access statement. These documents are essential for the planning authority to assess the impact of your proposed garden bar on the surrounding area and to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and policies.

When preparing your application, it’s important to provide accurate and detailed information about your garden bar project. This includes the proposed size, design, materials, and any other relevant details. It’s also crucial to consider any potential factors that may affect the outcome of your application, such as the proximity to neighbouring properties, the impact on the visual amenity of the area, and any potential concerns raised by the local community.

Tips for a successful planning permission application

Submitting a well-prepared planning permission application can significantly increase your chances of success. Here are some tips to help you navigate the process and maximise your chances of obtaining approval for your garden bar project:

  1. Research the local planning policies: Familiarise yourself with the planning policies and guidelines specific to your area. This will help you understand the requirements and expectations of the local planning authority, enabling you to tailor your application accordingly.
  2. Engage with professionals: Consider enlisting the help of professionals, such as architects or planning consultants, who have experience in dealing with planning permission applications. They can provide valuable guidance and expertise throughout the process, increasing your chances of success.
  3. Prepare comprehensive supporting documents: Ensure that all the necessary supporting documents, such as architectural drawings, site plans, and a design and access statement, are prepared accurately and in detail. These documents will play a crucial role in demonstrating the feasibility and compliance of your garden bar project.
  4. Address potential concerns: Anticipate any potential concerns or objections that may arise from the local planning authority or the community. Address these concerns in your application by providing suitable mitigation measures or explanations to alleviate any potential issues.
  5. Communicate with neighbours: If your garden bar project may have an impact on neighbouring properties, consider engaging in open and transparent communication with your neighbours. This can help address any concerns they may have and potentially garner their support for your application.
  6. Be patient and proactive: The planning permission process can take time, and it’s important to be patient. However, remain proactive throughout the process by regularly checking the status of your application and promptly providing any additional information or documents requested by the planning authority.

By following these tips and ensuring that your application is thorough and well-prepared, you’ll increase your chances of obtaining planning permission for your garden bar project.

Common reasons for planning permission rejections

While obtaining planning permission for your garden bar is certainly achievable, it’s essential to be aware of some common reasons why applications may be rejected. Understanding these reasons can help you avoid potential pitfalls and increase your chances of a successful outcome. Here are a few common reasons for planning permission rejections:

  1. Non-compliance with regulations: Failure to adhere to the specific regulations and guidelines set by the local planning authority is one of the most common reasons for planning permission rejections. It’s crucial to thoroughly research and understand the requirements of your area to ensure compliance.
  2. Impact on the visual amenity: Planning authorities often consider the visual impact of a proposed structure on the surrounding area. If your garden bar is deemed to have a negative impact on the visual amenity, it may lead to a rejection. Consider the design and materials used in your project to ensure they are in harmony with the surrounding environment.
  3. Concerns raised by neighbours: Neighbours’ objections or concerns can play a significant role in the outcome of your planning permission application. It’s important to address any potential concerns and engage with your neighbors to mitigate any issues that may arise.
  4. Significant changes to the property: If your garden bar project involves significant changes to the property, such as altering the landscape or encroaching on protected areas, it may raise red flags with the planning authority. Ensure that your project aligns with the existing character of the property and the surrounding area.

By being aware of these common reasons for planning permission rejections, you can take proactive steps to address potential issues and increase your chances of a successful application.

Garden Bar planning permission case studies

To further illustrate the planning permission process for garden bars, let’s take a look at a couple of case studies that highlight different scenarios and outcomes:

Case Study 1: Successful permitted development garden bar

Mr. and Mrs. Smith wanted to add a garden bar to their property. They carefully considered the size and design of the structure, ensuring it fell within the permitted development limits set by their local planning authority. They prepared accurate drawings and plans of the garden bar, along with a design and access statement that addressed any potential concerns. As a result, their garden bar project was deemed to meet the requirements for permitted development, and they were able to proceed without the need for planning permission.

Case Study 2: Planning permission granted for a commercial garden bar

Mr. Brown, a business owner, wanted to build a garden bar as an extension of his restaurant. However, due to the commercial nature of the project, it did not fall within the permitted development rights. Mr. Brown engaged with professionals who helped him prepare a comprehensive planning permission application, including detailed architectural drawings, site plans, and a design and access statement. The application was carefully tailored to address any potential concerns, such as noise levels and traffic impact. After a thorough review, the planning authority granted permission for the garden bar, allowing Mr. Brown to expand his business offerings.

These case studies demonstrate the importance of understanding the specific requirements and regulations that apply to your garden bar project. By carefully considering the factors that may affect your application and preparing a well-documented proposal, you can increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Alternative options for outdoor structures without planning permission

If your garden bar project does not meet the criteria for permitted development and you are unable to obtain planning permission, there are alternative options to consider. These options allow you to create outdoor structures within the boundaries of the law and without the need for formal approval. Let’s explore a few of these alternatives:

  1. Temporary structures: Temporary structures, such as gazebos or pop-up bars, can provide a flexible and portable solution for your outdoor entertainment needs. These structures can be set up and taken down as needed, making them a viable option for those who want the freedom to change their outdoor setup without the constraints of planning permission.
  2. Modular systems: Modular systems, consisting of pre-fabricated components, offer a convenient and customisable solution for outdoor structures. These systems often come with a range of design options and can be easily assembled and disassembled without the need for extensive construction work or planning permission.
  3. Mobile bars: If you’re looking for a mobile and versatile option, a mobile bar may be the answer. These bars can be towed or transported to different locations, allowing you to set up your outdoor space wherever and whenever you desire. Mobile bars often come in various sizes and designs, catering to different needs and preferences.

While these alternatives may not offer the same level of permanence or customisation as a garden bar with planning permission, they provide viable options for those who want to create an outdoor space without going through the formal approval process.


Adding a garden bar to your property in the UK can be an exciting and rewarding project. Whether you’re looking to create a cosy corner for evening drinks or a full-scale bar experience, understanding the planning permission process is essential. In this comprehensive guide, we’ve explored the different types of planning permission, including permitted development rights, and provided tips for a successful application. We’ve also discussed common reasons for planning permission rejections and provided case studies to illustrate the process. Additionally, we’ve explored alternative options for outdoor structures without planning permission. Armed with this knowledge, you can confidently embark on your garden bar journey and turn your dreams into a reality. So go ahead, start planning, and soon you’ll be enjoying your garden bar oasis in the UK!

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