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You might be surprised by what you can build in your garden

In large parts of the UK, you might have the right to build a new house in your garden.


If so, what are your options? You could get planning permission for a separate home and then just sell the 'permitted land' for a handsome profit.


Or you could organise the full build yourself and sell the finished house for even more of a profit.


Or, if you can't afford the building costs right now, you could sell your existing house, minus the garden plot, and use the proceeds to build the nice new home for yourself, perhaps living in a mobile lodge on-site during the construction period.


But why might building in your garden be allowed? National planning policies encourage building on 'previously developed land' but the surprising thing is, many people's gardens count as 'previously developed land'.


The exact implementation of this rule will differ depending on where exactly you live, so you might want to get some advice from a planning consultant, but it's true everywhere that to benefit from a 'previously developed land' permission, the location of the proposed new house must fall within the current 'curtilage' of your existing property.


In general, the word 'curtilage' is used to describe the land immediately surrounding a house or other building, but in planning terms it has a specific legal definition.


This is important because it's not necessarily the same as what you regard as your garden. A judge has ruled that in identifying a curtilage there are three important factors to consider: physical layout, ownership and use of the land.


In terms of physical layout, to be counted as curtilage, land cannot be separated from its main building, i.e. it needs to form one enclosure with it.


When it comes to land ownership, it all needs to be owned by the same person.


And regarding use, to be curtilage the land must have an established legal usage that relates to the domestic enjoyment of the main dwelling.


Meeting just one or two of these is not enough. All three criteria are important.


And it's not just the current situation that counts. Both present and past ownership and uses are critical to decision-makers when they have to decide what counts as curtilage.


If you'd like some advice on these or other aspects of planning consent, then feel free to contact us.