I’d intended to use my 2.4m by 2.1m building as a painting studio. I don’t want to get into an argument, but the complaint is spoiling my enjoyment of it
Q I have recently had installed a small 2.4m x 2.1m summerhouse at the bottom of our terraced garden. The height is less than 2.5m. I wanted to use the building to enjoy our garden and as a painting studio.
Unfortunately my neighbour is unhappy about it. She says the windows face her kitchen and bedroom. I can’t actually see into her kitchen as we have a high fence and the garden slopes down. I can only see her bedroom window if I look up.
I’m pretty sure my building doesn’t go against planning regulations. My neighbour’s complaint has somewhat spoilt my enjoyment of my little studio, and I’m wondering how to respond. I do intend to buy some net curtains and pin these up when I’m painting. I don’t want to get into an argument with my neighbour. We don’t speak as they are not friendly, and in the past they have always complained whenever we do anything to the house or garden.
I wonder if you have any helpful advice?
A Don’t let your neighbours’ complaints get to you, and certainly don’t get into a discussion. In my experience, if someone is convinced that something is the case – for instance that you can see into their kitchen and/or bedroom – no amount of fact or logic is going to get them to back down. Some neighbours of a friend of mine are convinced that she can see into their kitchen through their back door. She can’t – and I’ve seen it firsthand – but that hasn’t stopped the neighbours being thoroughly unpleasant about it.
I’m also pretty sure that your summer house doesn’t go against planning regulations. That’s because most garden buildings – whether a shed, greenhouse or summerhouse – do not require planning permission because they come under the heading of what’s called “permitted development”. However, to be sure that planning permission is not required, there are certain provisos that have to be met. If, for instance, a garden building is to be erected within 2m of the property boundary, the height of the building’s eaves must be no more than 2.5m. Wherever it is put, it must be single storey, with no veranda or balcony, and be used for domestic purposes only.
Companies who sell garden buildings are usually fully conversant with what makes a building permitted development because its in their interests to know the rules. The rules are less straightforward if you live in a listed building or in another type of protected area, such as an area of outstanding natural beauty, national park or conservation area. So anyone living in such a protected area who wants to put up a garden building would be wise to talk to the local planning office before going ahead. In the case of your summerhouse, although you don’t have to, you might want to talk to your planning office so that you can put your mind at rest.
• This article was amended on 12 August 2019 to remove an incorrect reference to the floor area allowed for a garden building.