Backlands planning permission – How to build in your back garden

If you have your heart set on building your own home and you have a large garden….. the answer could lie in your own back garden!

There are a number of advantages to building in your garden. More and more families are looking at ways to support elderly relatives and a growing family, or maybe you’d like to secure a rental income. Even if you don’t actually build the house, gaining planning permission for your land will significantly increase the total value of your property if you come to sell it in the future.

What is Backlands planning?

There are two types of development that come up when talking about backlands planning, or building within an existing garden:

Backland development: A backlands plot generally refers to land that sits to the back or side of an existing property. The land is generally part of an existing garden, but has the potential to accommodate a new home on it.

Infill development: You may also come across the term ‘Infill’ development, which refers to a development within a small gap in an otherwise established street or row of houses.

These types of developments are extremely popular in large cities where there is very little room for new developments and a greater demand for new housing.

Whilst it might be harder to obtain planning for this kind of development outside of a major city, it isn’t impossible. However, it does require careful consideration and a thorough understanding of the planning process.

Gaining backlands planning permission

Local regulations and policies on backlands planning vary between authorities. Finding an architect who is familiar with your local planning authority and has experience of backlands planning is key. If you are based in the midlands, please get in touch to see how we can help.

Ultimately, you’ll need a creative design that minimises any impact to the neighbours, whilst also providing well designed and accessible accommodation for the new homeowners.

Local authorities generally look at the following factors when considering a backlands planning

Access: How will the new property access the nearest public highway? Depending on the plot, you may also have to include access for emergency and refuse vehicles, as well as parking for your vehicles.

Neighbours: Understandably, your neighbours are going to be concerned about the impact of the potential build on their property. The local planning authority will want to ensure that your plans don’t cause any issues in terms of privacy (overlooking your neighbours), loss of light, or an increase in noise.

Space standards: Most local authorities have a set of standards that will need to be met, covering factors such as internal space, garden size and parking.

Design: The architect’s job is to create a sensitive scheme that provides the potential homeowner with the space they want, but works around the factors mentioned above and satisfies the planners. This is where an experienced architect becomes invaluable.

Other things to consider include the proximity to existing services, and how the property will settle into the landscape of the existing residential area. You’ll also need to consider ecological impacts, such as the impact on existing trees and drainage.

As with all new build dwellings, the planners will favour a home that is energy efficient, so this should really feature in all aspects of your design and planning application.


If you have a large garden, it could well be worth looking into backlands planning.

If you do decide to pursue it, remember that the impact on neighbouring properties is key, so try to keep your neighbours in the loop! It might be worthwhile communicating with them before they receive notifications from the local authority so you can answer their questions and talk them through your plans.

Would you like to talk to a professional architect about backlands planning? Get in touch to see how we can help.