If you’re looking to have a SmartPod modular building constructed on your premises, whether at home or at a business location, then the initial question is always, “Do I need planning permission?”. Well, it may surprise you to learn that the answer is usually ‘no’! Modular constructions, with their seamless integration into existing land use, often sail smoothly through the bureaucracy, backed by a ‘certificate of lawfulness’ and falling under ‘permitted development’. However, each case is unique, and diligence is paramount – so it’s usually best to check directly with your local planning authority (LPA) which can be done online via the following link:


In this article we’re going to explain the key aspects you’ll need to consider when applying for your modular building’s planning permission. Should the need for planning permission arise, a proactive approach is advised. We recommend clients engage with their local council immediately, and begin to form a a well-prepared application supported by meticulous technical drawings – which we can supply to you. These drawings serve not only as blueprints for construction but also as powerful tools in navigating the bureaucratic channels, facilitating a smoother journey through the planning process. So, while the path to obtaining planning permission for modular buildings may seem complex, armed with knowledge and preparation, it can be a manageable endeavour. Join us as we delve deeper into the nuances of planning permissions, empowering you to navigate this terrain with confidence and clarity.

Planning Permission: Do You Need It?
Understanding UK Regulations

If you’re considering installing a SmartPod modular building on your property, it’s important to understand the regulations and requirements that may apply in the UK. While SmartPods offer a versatile and innovative solution for expanding your living or working space, there are certain considerations you’ll need to take into account to ensure a smooth and compliant installation process. One of the first questions that may come to mind when considering a SmartPod installation is whether you need planning permission. In the UK, planning permission is generally required for most types of development, including the installation of permanent structures such as buildings or extensions. However, there are certain exceptions and allowances that may apply to SmartPods, depending on factors such as size, location, and intended use.

Permitted Development Rights

In the majority of cases, you may be able to install a SmartPod without the need for planning permission under ‘permitted development rights’. Permitted development rights allow certain types of development to proceed without the need for planning permission, subject to specific limitations and conditions. For example, you may be able to install a SmartPod within the curtilage of your property (the area of land surrounding your main dwelling) without planning permission, provided that it meets certain criteria such as size/height, location, and use. These three categories are the main factors to consider when seeking planning permission, well discuss these in more detail further on, but they each focus on the following aspects:

Size and Height Restrictions

Modular building installations must comply with size and height restrictions specified under permitted development rights. For example, the maximum height may be limited to 2.5 meters if it is located within 2 meters of a boundary.

Building Location

The location of your modular building may also impact whether planning permission is required. For example, buildings located within designated conservation areas or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty may be subject to additional restrictions.

Building Use

The intended use of your modular building may also affect whether planning permission is required. For example, SmartPods used for residential purposes may be subject to different regulations than those used for commercial or business purposes.

Height Restrictions

Permitted development rights typically specify a maximum height for structures that can be built without requiring planning permission. For SmartPods and similar outbuildings, this maximum height is often around 2.5 meters (or approximately 8.2 feet). This means that if your SmartPod exceeds this height limit, you may need to apply for planning permission before proceeding with the installation. We’ll of course discuss this during the initial design phase, but it’s important to think about the height of your proposed modular building carefully and ensure that it complies with these height restrictions to avoid potential complications.

Non-compliance with height restrictions can have significant implications for your project, ranging from delays and additional costs associated with obtaining planning permission to potential enforcement action by local planning authorities. By meticulously assessing the height of your SmartPod at an early stage and ensuring compliance with permitted development guidelines, you can mitigate the risk of encountering such challenges and facilitate a smoother installation process.

Distance from Boundaries and Roads

In addition to height restrictions, permitted development rights also encompass provisions regarding the spatial relationship between structures like SmartPods and property boundaries or public roads. These setback requirements are designed to safeguard the interests of neighbouring properties, promote harmonious urban development, and maintain safety and accessibility within the built environment.

While specific setback distances may vary depending on local planning regulations and the nature of the development, SmartPod installations typically need to maintain a certain distance from boundaries and roads – typically spanning several meters.

Failure to comply with setback requirements can trigger concerns among neighbouring property owners, potentially leading to objections or challenges to your installation. Additionally, non-compliance may result in enforcement action by local planning authorities, requiring modifications or even removal of the structure to rectify the infringement.

To navigate setback requirements effectively, it’s essential to review and understand the specific regulations applicable to your property, including any setback provisions outlined in permitted development rights or local planning policies. By proactively addressing setback considerations and ensuring compliance with relevant regulations, you can enhance the likelihood of a successful SmartPod installation and our installation team will ensure full compliance with the location of your modular building upon delivery.


The purpose and use of your modular building can influence the planning permission requirements for installing a SmartPod or any other structure on a property.

Residential Use

Installing a SmartPod for residential purposes involves considerations unique to creating a living space within your property. Whether it’s for a home officegym, or retreat pod, understanding the nuances of planning permission for residential use is crucial. Regulations often focus on factors such as the impact on neighbouring properties, privacy considerations, and adherence to local housing policies. As mentioned above, a significant aspect to explore is ‘permitted development rights’, which may allow certain residential developments to proceed without explicit planning permission, provided they meet specific criteria and limitations – which you can check via your Local Planning Authority (LPA). 

When considering a residential SmartPod, it’s essential to evaluate its compatibility with existing structures, ensuring it complements rather than detracts from the overall aesthetics of the property. Additionally, factors such as parking provisions, access routes, and landscaping may also come under scrutiny during the planning process. By carefully addressing these aspects and aligning the proposal with local planning policies, homeowners can streamline the planning application process and enhance the chances of approval for their residential SmartPod project.

Commercial Use

For those installing a SmartPod for commercial purposes, such as a retailpet groomingrefreshment pods etc – navigating planning permission requirements entails a deeper understanding of the impact on the local environment and community. Commercial developments are subject to stringent regulations, particularly concerning issues like traffic generation, noise levels, and visual impact. In many cases, a comprehensive planning application accompanied by detailed information, such as a business plan, may be necessary to demonstrate compliance with relevant policies and regulations.

Commercial SmartPod installations often require careful consideration of factors beyond the immediate premises, including potential effects on nearby businesses, residential areas, and infrastructure. Mitigation measures, such as soundproofing or traffic management plans, may be required to address any concerns raised during the planning process. By proactively addressing these considerations and engaging with stakeholders, businesses can navigate the complexities of planning permission for their commercial SmartPod project more effectively.

Pet Grooming Pod
Classroom Pods
Breakout Pod

Educational Use

Schools and educational institutions seeking to install a classroom pod or similar structure must navigate planning permission requirements tailored to their specific needs and responsibilities. Factors such as the size and location of the building within the school grounds, as well as its impact on the surrounding area, play pivotal roles in determining planning approval. Educational developments are subject to regulations addressing safeguarding, accessibility, and compliance with educational standards.

When planning an educational SmartPod project, schools must consider not only the immediate needs of students and staff but also the broader implications for the local community. Detailed planning applications may be necessary, accompanied by comprehensive information on the proposed use of the building, its design features, and its integration with existing facilities. Engaging with local planning authorities and consulting with relevant stakeholders can help schools navigate the planning process more effectively, ensuring that their educational SmartPod project aligns with regulatory requirements and community expectations.
 requirements and seek professional advice if needed to ensure compliance with all applicable planning policies and procedures.

Other Aspects to Consider

Local Planning Policies
Consulting Planning Authorities
Neighbourhood Consideration
Environmental Impact
Historic & Conservation Areas

Local Planning Policies

Local planning policies serve as the foundation for determining what types of developments are allowed in a specific area. These policies are established by local planning authorities, such as city or district councils, and are designed to reflect the unique characteristics and needs of each community. They outline the rules and guidelines that govern land use, development density, building design, and other aspects of urban and rural development.

Customers should familiarise themselves with the local planning policies that apply to their property by reviewing documents such as the Local Plan, Supplementary Planning Documents (SPDs), and Conservation Area Appraisals. These documents provide valuable information about development constraints, designated land uses, and any specific requirements or restrictions that may apply in different parts of the local area.

Understanding local planning policies is essential for customers who are considering a development project, as it helps ensure compliance with relevant regulations and minimises the risk of planning permission refusal. Customers should pay close attention to policies related to areas such as residential development, green belt land, flood risk, and heritage conservation, as these can have a significant impact on the feasibility of their proposed project.

Consulting with Planning Authorities

Engaging with the local planning authority early in the planning process can provide customers with valuable insights and guidance to support their development project. Planning authorities are responsible for administering the planning system and can offer expert advice on matters such as planning policy interpretation, application procedures, and potential planning constraints.

Customers can seek pre-application advice from their local planning authority, which involves submitting details of their proposed development for review and feedback before submitting a formal planning application. This allows customers to identify any potential issues or concerns early on and make adjustments to their proposal as needed to improve its chances of success.

By consulting with planning authorities, customers can gain a better understanding of the planning process and ensure that their proposed development aligns with local planning policies and objectives. This proactive approach can help streamline the planning process, reduce the risk of delays or complications, and increase the likelihood of a positive outcome for the development project.

Neighbourhood Considerations

Customers should consider the potential impact of their proposed development on neighbouring properties and the wider community. Factors such as noise, traffic, visual impact, and privacy can all influence the acceptability of a development and may prompt objections from neighbouring residents or stakeholders.

Before proceeding with a development project, customers should conduct a thorough assessment of the potential impacts on the surrounding area and take steps to mitigate any adverse effects. This may involve consulting with neighbors, conducting surveys or studies to assess potential impacts, and incorporating design features or measures to minimise disruption and enhance compatibility with the local environment.

Customers should also be aware of their obligations to notify and consult with neighbouring properties as part of the planning application process. This typically involves sending notification letters to nearby residents and stakeholders, providing them with an opportunity to review the proposal and submit comments or objections to the planning authority.

By carefully considering neighbourhood considerations and addressing potential concerns proactively, customers can demonstrate their commitment to being good neighbours and increase the likelihood of a successful planning application outcome.

Environmental Impact

The environmental impact of a development project is an important consideration that can influence planning permission requirements and approval decisions. Customers should assess the potential environmental effects of their proposed development and take steps to minimise or mitigate any adverse impacts on the surrounding environment.

Key environmental considerations may include biodiversity, ecological sensitivity, and sustainability. Customers should be aware of any designated protected areas, habitats, or species that may be present near their property and take measures to avoid or minimise disturbance to these sensitive areas.

In addition to ecological considerations, customers should also evaluate the sustainability of their proposed development in terms of energy efficiency, resource use, and carbon emissions. Incorporating sustainable design features such as renewable energy systems, green roofs, and rainwater harvesting can help reduce the environmental footprint of the development and enhance its overall sustainability.

You may need to provide environmental assessments or studies as part of the planning application to demonstrate compliance with relevant environmental regulations and policies. These assessments typically evaluate potential impacts on air quality, water resources, soil quality, and other environmental factors and propose measures to mitigate any adverse effects.

By addressing environmental impact considerations proactively and incorporating sustainable design principles into their development projects, customers can demonstrate their commitment to environmental stewardship and increase the likelihood of a favourable planning decision.

Historic and Conservation Areas

Historic and conservation areas are designated areas that are recognised for their cultural, architectural, or historical significance. These areas are often subject to additional planning restrictions and regulations to preserve their character and heritage for future generations.

Customers should be aware of any designated historic or conservation areas near their property and familiarise themselves with the specific planning policies and guidelines that apply in these areas. These policies may include restrictions on alterations to existing buildings, requirements for sympathetic design and materials, and limitations on new development within the designated area.

Before proceeding with a development project in a historic or conservation area, customers may need to obtain special permissions or consents from the local planning authority. This may involve submitting a ‘conservation area consent application’ or obtaining ‘listed building consent for alterations to historic buildings or structures’.

Customers should also be mindful of the potential need for additional assessments or studies to assess the impact of their proposed development on the historic or conservation area. These assessments may evaluate factors such as visual impact, heritage significance, and architectural compatibility to ensure that the proposed development is appropriate and in keeping with the character of the area.

By respecting the unique heritage and character of historic and conservation areas, customers can contribute to their preservation and enhance the overall quality of the built environment for future generations.

Appeals Process

It’s of course a subject no one wants to discuss, however we’ve included an overview of the appeals process should your request for planning permissions be denied – because all is not lost! In the event that a planning application is refused by the local planning authority, customers have the right to appeal the decision to the Planning Inspectorate, an independent government body responsible for determining planning appeals. The appeals process provides customers with an opportunity to challenge a planning decision if they believe it to be unjust or unreasonable.

Customers can submit an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate within a specified timeframe following the decision of the local planning authority. The appeal process typically involves submitting a written statement outlining the grounds for appeal, supporting evidence, and any additional information or documentation relevant to the case.

Once an appeal is lodged, a Planning Inspector will review the case and make a determination based on the evidence presented. This may involve holding a hearing or public inquiry to consider the merits of the appeal and allow all parties to present their arguments.

Customers should be aware that the appeals process can be time-consuming and may require additional resources to support their case. However, it provides an important mechanism for challenging planning decisions and seeking a fair and impartial assessment of the proposed development.

By understanding the appeals process and their rights as applicants, customers can pursue an appeal if they believe that their planning application has been unfairly rejected and seek a positive outcome for their development project.

Those are the key areas involved with planning permission for modular buildings. As mentioned earlier, the majority of SmartPod installations won’t require any planning permission due to them falling under ‘permitted development’ and simply require a ‘certificate of lawfulness’, however if you should need planning permission then we hope this article has been of help and explained the process in better detail. If you would like to know further information about our range of modular buildings then please feel free to contact us and we’ll be glad to assist.

Need Further Assistance?

Feel free to contact us about any of our modular buildings for education, retail, leisure, and business.