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New practice: Workers planning to work from home should make sure they are not breaching planning laws

Author: Atom Content Marketing

Published: 01 Jan 2022

Before working from home, homeowners should consider whether this amounts to a material change in the use they make of their home for planning purposes and if so whether their use is incidental to their enjoyment of it, to avoid breaching planning law.

Planning permission is required if there is a 'material change of use' of a home – no building works or other changes are necessary. But there is an exception where the use is incidental to the enjoyment of it.

It can be difficult to determine whether a new use of your home amounts to a change in the character of the use you make of your home, and then to decide whether the change is incidental to your enjoyment of it as your home.

For example, if a personal trainer, living in a semi, used an outbuilding in their garden for a gym for themselves and their family and friends, and for four or five paying clients each weekday and more at weekends, that may well amount to a change in the character of their use of their home, and be more than incidental to its enjoyment.

If in doubt – and particularly if neighbours are likely to draw the attention of the local authority to what is happening – a homeowner planning to work from home can apply for a Certificate of Lawful Existing Use. If granted, this confirms that their new use of their home does not require planning permission - either because it does not amount to a material change of use or because it is incidental to the homeowner's enjoyment of their home.

However, if a Certificate is not granted it can lead to the local authority taking legal action against the homeowner, so it is prudent to take specialist legal advice before applying.

Homeowners moving home, and planning to work from their new home, should also take care to ensure either their proposed use of the new home does not require planning permission or permission has already been granted.

Operative date

  • Now


  • Homeowners planning to work from home should consider taking advice on whether they need planning permission to do so, or risk legal action against them by their local planning authority.

This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

Copyright © Atom Content Marketing

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