Do You Need Planning Permission to Install a Modular Building?

Temporary buildings and planning permission are often misunderstood topic. In the UK, planning permissions are quite tightly controlled, to ensure quality of construction and preservation of historical areas. Planning permission for temporary buildings, however, is a slightly murkier area in legislative terms.

Therefore, the answer to the question ‘Do you need planning permission to install a modular building?’ is ‘it depends’, but we’ll go into more detail here.

planning permission for modular buildings

UK Planning Permission

Guidance surrounding planning permission in the UK is contained within the National Planning Policy (NPP), and overseen by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs). The NPP sets out the construction needs of the country and how to meet those needs, as well as guidance around construction regulations.

This is all in place to ensure that construction projects meet our national needs, as well as making sure that new buildings do not interfere with existing locations too much, especially in the case of historic areas.

When you make a planning application for a building, you will usually make it to the LPA in the area in which you intend to build. This can be done online in most cases.

Is Planning Permission Required for Modular Buildings?

Modular buildings sometimes fall into a little bit of a grey area regarding planning permission. In most cases, planning permission for temporary buildings is no different than any other structure, and modular buildings of any kind are not given a distinct legal status.

However, there are exceptions that using modular buildings can help you meet. You will not usually need planning permission if –

  • Your building, modular or otherwise, is in place for less than 28 days and has a floor space of less than 100m2 (metres squared).
  • It is an extension of an existing building and is:
    – Not as tall as the original building
    – Serves a purpose directly relevant to the original building
    – And is smaller than a quarter of the size of the original building by volume

When is Planning Permission Required?

However, planning permission for temporary buildings will be required if –

  • The new structure is larger than a quarter of the available area on your site.
  • If it is an extension, and it’s larger than a quarter of the size of the original building.
  • The structure will be closer than 5 meters to the edge of your site, even if it’s temporary.
  • The building will greatly reduce the amount of existing parking at the site.
  • You’re planning to change the use of the building.

In order to make sure you don’t get caught short, it’s usually best to speak to your LPA before undertaking any projects. Most LPAs will allow you to schedule a discussion where you can find out for certain whether your modular building will need planning permission, and many even take pre-applications, which can be responded to in as little as two to three weeks and can give you a pretty definite idea as to whether or not your final application would be a success.

Things to Consider When Making Your Application

What Should Be in Your Planning Application?

Obtaining planning permission for your temporary building is the same process as getting planning approval for any other structure, and there are a few key things to include in your application to give you the greatest chance of success –

  • A copy of your application form.
  • A plan of your site, your block plan, as well as evaluations of both your existing and proposed sites, showing relevant details about your site and how it will blend with the existing area.
  • Your design and access statement – a brief report that’s required to support your application, providing information about how the proposed development will fit into the site and its settings.
  • Also needed is payment of the application fee for your application.

How Long Does Planning Approval Take?

If your planning application is fairly typical and does not feature any unusual elements, you should be able to get a response within 8-12 weeks. More complex applications will often take longer.

In the case of getting planning permission for temporary buildings, the process should be fairly simple, or even not require permission at all if it meets the criteria discussed above.

At Midlands Portable Buildings, our knowledgeable team is always happy to discuss your specific needs with you and help you find the right modular structure for your temporary building needs, with a huge range of high-quality, custom units available.

Get in touch today using our online form, call us on 01889 271 406, or email us at