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Do you need planning permission to install a pergola?

pergola at night time


Whether you’re inviting friends over for an outdoor dinner party on a warm summer evening, or just want an outdoor area where you can sit back and relax after a long day’s work, adding a pergola to your garden is a popular choice for many homeowners. 

It doesn’t have to be a spectacular feat of architecture to provide a much-needed outdoor retreat on your property, but it should be a decent size for everyone to sit under, weather the storm if needed, and maybe have space to string up a line of fairy lights or two. With any structure that you’re putting up, you don’t want planning laws to ruin your fun so, in this article, we’ll be discussing whether you need to apply for planning permission before installing a pergola.


pergola at night time


What is planning permission?


Planning permission is where you ask for consent from your local authority to make changes to your property. 

It’s a rule that’s put in place to prevent people from making inappropriate developments and extensive changes unnecessarily. Although it may be a hassle to go through the process when you’re eager to update your property, it’s an important rule!

There are three main types of planning permission you can apply for:

  • Full planning permission: when you provide the local authorities with a detailed plan of your project for approval.
  • Outline planning permission: where you haven’t provided a detailed project plan, but you receive ‘permission in principle’ so you can explore whether your project will be viable.
  • Householder planning permission: where you want to extend or change your property within your current boundaries.


What do you typically need planning permission for?

If you’re getting started with a building project, whether it’s extending your property or just adding a new structure to your garden, you will normally need sign-off from local authorities.

Some of the reasons you may apply for planning permission include:

  • You’re building something new
  • You want to add an extension to your house
  • You want to make a major change to your house
  • You plan to change the use of your property

If you’re unsure whether your project falls into one of these categories, you can get some guidance from your local planning authority (LPA) through your local council.


Do you need planning permission to build a pergola?

If you are thinking of building a pergola in your garden, it can be confusing to figure out whether you need to apply for planning permission before commencing your project. Unlike other housing projects, the answer is not so clear-cut with this type of addition as it will largely depend on the size of your garden, the size of the pergola, and the height of the structure.

If you’re unsure whether you need planning permission or not, it’s normally best practice to ask anyway. If you do apply for approval, local authorities will be evaluating your project based on the following considerations:

  • How far away your pergola is from the boundaries of your property
  • The height of your pergola
    • If it’s within a 2m boundary of your property, height should not exceed 2.5m
    • If it’s further than the 2m boundary, height should not exceed 3m
    • If your pergola has an A-shaped roof, height should not exceed 4m
  • How much land does your pergola cover on your property
  • Whether your pergola is at the front or back of your property
  • Whether you live in a listed property

Most pergolas need to be at the back of your house, cover no more than half of the area on your property, and meet height requirements. In some cases, exemptions may be made for some projects, but this will all come down to your particular local authority.

Although many pergolas don’t even warrant an application for planning permission, it’s important to check all the relevant regulations when you’re planning your project so you don’t break any rules.


What you should know before building your pergola

Building a pergola in your garden is a great way to liven up your space and create a welcoming area for you and your guests to enjoy all year round. But, before you get caught up in the planning process, it’s important to think about a few things that could have a big impact on the final result.

  • You are not allowed to use more than half of the area surrounding your house for garden buildings
  • Your pergola must follow height restrictions based on how close it is to the boundary of your property
  • You can not add a pergola to a veranda, raised platform, or balcony
  • You can not put up a pergola in front of your property’s front wall

Aside from regulations, you should also consider what you want to use the pergola for. Some people want a pergola purely for aesthetic appeal and plan their project based on how the structure will look and work with the rest of their garden. With this in mind, they’ll probably choose natural materials like wood, or make space for lighting features to brighten up the area.

For others, they want to create a functional space they can enjoy even when the weather isn’t doing the best so prefer a closed top or pratic pergola that can easily provide shelter from an incoming storm.

Start enjoying your pergola

Once you’ve got your planning regulations sorted and have an idea of what you want your pergola to look like, it’s time to start the planning process and build your structure for you and your family to enjoy.