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Surprise ruling extends “garden right to build” into former agricultural field

A planning appeal inspector has recently ruled on a case that could offer the green light for lots of people to build new homes on land adjourning their own formal gardens.

In many areas of the UK, it is possible to get planning permission to build new residential properties within the immediate garden, or curtilage, of an existing home. But there are certain rules on what counts as a curtilage and councils often interpret these against the interests of those who want to build there.

This appeal case involved a former agricultural field to the rear of a property in the village of Elmesthorpe.

Whilst the land in question is behind the owner’s original “formal” garden, it also extends behind the gardens of seven other houses. As you can see from the photograph of it shown below, the large former field in question would not, at first sight, appear to be a garden. But the owners successfully demonstrated that this land has been used by them for “garden type” activities including bonfires, parties, camping, quad biking, trampolining, football and other sports, as well as planting and grass cutting.

Despite the fact that these activities have been sporadic, the appeal inspector ruled that the use of the land had materially changed from its original agricultural use. She also considered the spatial relationship between the former field and the dwelling and, because there is no fence or other boundary separating them, she ruled that together they formed one enclosure and thus the whole area marked in red counts as one curtilage for the main house. This means the owners can now apply for planning permission to build new homes on the land, either for their own family or to sell to others.

If you’d like some initial free advice about getting planning consent to build one or more houses on land that you own, you can contact by email using or telephone on 0845 170 8050 or 07801 356 840.