Hannah Moule, Founder and Director of The Rural Planning Co answers one of our frequently asked questions...

Do I need planning permission for storage containers?

We regularly come across farmyards with a handful of storage containers ‘round the back’, often let out for storage to businesses or individuals, creating very useful rental income.

There is a common thought that these containers don’t need planning permission because they are moveable / mobile. Whilst its something you probably don’t want to hear, unfortunately this isn’t the case.

To get geeky for a moment, when you place a container onto agricultural land and use it for storage use, you have ‘changed the use’ of the land. Changing the use of land is something that requires full planning consent.

Assuming the containers are not attached to the land, just placed on it, there are a few scenario’s where planning is not needed.

The first is if you are using the shipping container for agricultural purposes on agricultural land Eg a workshop / secure storage.

The second is where it is a temporary use of less than 28 days.

The third is if you already have permission for storage (or whatever use the containers will be) on the land, and you are placing the containers in that area.

The most common scenario outlined in the first paragraph above, will always require planning permission for the change of use. Planning consent will be unfortunately be difficult to get in the Greenbelt, AONB’s or other landscape designated areas. Outside of these areas planning might be achievable, depending on the site.

Or if it really is ‘around the back’, it’s not noticeable by your nosy neighbour, and you are happy to take the risk, then it might be worth not worrying about planning unless someone knocks on the door.

As always if you want any specific advice, please contact us. We have a team of planning consultants who can help you determine whether or not planning permission is required.