Small Woodland Owners' Group

What is a structure?

Paperwork, grants, legal issues

Postby Adrian » Mon Apr 20, 2009 2:55 pm

In answer to 'Does anyone have first hand experiences to share?'

It probably works different in Scotland. I have the same problems as many of you , where to store tools, where to go and sit when it rains / make a cup of tea etc, so I went to the local planning office and asked ' I don't need planning permission to put up a shed do I?' .

To cut a long story short.

Planning permission & building warrant required.

Expert consulted (Richard who did the plans for my conservatory), he knows a mate who knows about rural buildings.

Experts mate writes to planning department and confirms planning permission required but not building warrant, however planning application should include structural engineers report i.e. may as well do all the work for a building warrant.

I do dimensioned drawings and a concept sketch & tell Richard to apply for planning permission for 'Woodland Bothy'.

Drawings passed to structural engineer.

Structural engineer comes back with impractical beam sizes and incorrect grade of timber specification. Sent back to reconsider . Sorted out in the end.

Long wait (10 weeks)

We can't have planning permission for a 'Woodland Bothy' (carries habitation connotations) but can have planning permission for an identical structure called a 'Tool and wood store'.

Planning permission arrives, however the fully stamped drawings have the main supports in the wrong place.

Decide not to make fuss, as building warrant is not required it probably won't be inspected in that detail.

Planning application £134

Richards fee £400

Structural engineers fee £200 (after extra time)

£734 + stress just for permission to put up a shed!

Adrian (disillusioned by red tape but now happy, although skint)

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Postby John H » Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:02 pm

Soon after buying our woods we needed to put up a shed. We contacted the planners, said we owned 60 acres and wanted to put up a couple of sheds, about 16m x 6m, on the edge of the woodland.We didn't need planning permission as they would view the sheds as agricultural, but needed to pay them £40 and to send in some drawings. After a few weeks we got the go ahead. The first of these sheds although far from finished it is now nearly full of machinery and logs.


John H
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Postby cstocks » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:58 pm

I've recently posted on the forum regarding a small shed (6' x 4') I have in my 2 Ha woodland. I also have some temporary woodstores, comprising coppice pole frames covered with tarpaulins. They're temporary, but the earliest of them has been up for more than five years now.....

What planning permission do I have? None. I approached my planning authority (Wealden again) shortly after acquiring the wood, and spoke to several different people. They all gave different answers, and suggested different fees, so I figured none of them knew what they were talking about, and put the shed up anyway. That was in 2001.

The shed is second hand and the wood stores are nothing but my own labour, so the worst that can happen is that I have to dismantle them. It would be an inconvenience, but the shed's emptied of tools at the moment due to a spate of thefts.

I'm planning to erect a more secure shed now, which will be relatively expensive, so I'll be more concerned if I'm told to remove it, but if you don't have problems with security, and just need a small shed or woodstore for convenience, just put one up. Retrospective planning applications aren't supposed to be at a disdvantage if that's what you find you need to do in the future, and if the building you erect is inexpensive, you won't have lost much even if it has to be removed.

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Postby tracy » Sat Apr 25, 2009 5:48 am

Any chance you want to wait until our meeting on planning in July, our advisor might be able to help you to get it right so you won't have to take it down...

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Postby Dennis » Sat Apr 25, 2009 7:25 pm

Caravans count as plant and machinery for tax purposes (see here: If they were buildings then Agricultural Buildings Allowance **might** be in point. However, an 'Agricultural Building' for tax purposes is "a farm building, a farmhouse, a cottage or other works", ( And "a farm building is a structure like a barn, a cowshed, a chicken shack, a milking parlour or a stable", (Same page). So it is pretty clear that where a farmer housed a seasonal worker in a caravan it would not be a "structure" for tax purposes; he would get "Plant and Machinery" allowances instead. There isn't necessarily a read-across from tax law to planning law, though in my lengthy experience, tax law will look at definitions in other fields of law to clarify tax issues. So you'd think it ought to work the other way round too.

There is some interesting stuff at this link: where this is the important bit :

"Whilst the term "building" has been found to be wide enough to include structures and erections which might not ordinarily be regarded as a building, the courts have decided that if something falls within the definition of a "Caravan" it cannot also be a "Building". The two definitions are mutually exclusive.

The Definition of a "Caravan" is:

"Caravan means any structure designed or adapted for human habitation which is capable of being moved from one place to another whether by being towed or by being transported on a motor vehicle or trailer." "

What we have is an illustration of the logical trap where all A are B but not all B are A, e.g. all dogs are animals but not all animals are dogs. In this case all buildings are structures, but not all structures [caravans in our case] are buildings. So it begins to look as if we may be stuck with caravans as structures. But this piece in the Farmers' Guardian looks useful:

It reiterates the legal definitions, but the important idea is that permission is required for "development". And a caravan is not "development". According to a glossary at this link 'development' "means the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any buildings or other land". Can you see how this covers caravan?? Neither can I. Digging into planning law will have to wait for another post, but I've just come across an organisation called "The Land is Ours". Their website has a long page on Forestry, and section 3 on buildings could be useful to our debate. Have a look here:

In a word, the local authority that prompted this thread are likely to be wrong.

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