DEVELOPMENT WITHIN THE CURTILAGE OF A DWELLING HOUSE:-
So what does this phrase mean? To most it will be straight forward and in most applications of PD it is.
However, if you own a separate piece of land and brought it into residential use as part of your property,
this may not be deemed to be the residential curtilage if part of your building works is within this separate piece
of land. It is even worse if the extra piece of land was not of a residential use (eg - farmland or
Here is what we consider is residential curtilage under Permitted Development:-
What is domestic curtilage?
A small court, yard, garth, or piece of ground attached to a dwellinghouse, and forming one enclosure with
it, or so regarded by the law; the area attached to and containing a dwellinghouse and its outbuildings.
Domestic curtilage is usually a garden, but can include parking areas, access roads, vegetable plots,
children’s play equipment, and stables (where the horses are kept for pleasure rather than agricultural use).
The domestic curtilage is not necessarily marked off or enclosed, but it should be clearly attached to the house
or serving the purpose of the house in some useful and intimate way. This fact alone can cause the most
confusion especially in rural areas where the site owner red edges a site of large proportions for a Planning
application or an application for a Certificate of Lawful Development.
It has been our experience that when the residential curtilage is challenged by the Planning Dept. on an
application, it is often found that the current or previous owner acquired extra land in its recent history &
just because the child's climbing frame is now on the land with manicured lawns and a rose bush does not
instantly make it residential curtilage. If the extra piece of land has been used as a garden for 10 years
and over and the site owner can prove this with documented evidence then there may be a case for classing it as
residential but the onus of proof is always upon the site owner.
Change of use to domestic curtilage
National and local planning policy seeks to restrict encroachment of development into the countryside.
Change of use of land to domestic curtilage will not be permitted by most Councils where this would cause a
significant adverse impact on countryside character, agricultural land, or designated interests (such as listed
buildings, conservation areas, scheduled ancient monuments, sites of special scientific interest etc.)
The significance and type of impact depends on the context and on the development proposed. New domestic
curtilage should be designed to fit into the local context and respect the established pattern without causing
The extension of domestic curtilages into the countryside are only normally permitted where there would not
be an adverse impact on the character and appearance of the countryside or the setting of a settlement.
In the real world of Planning this would mean 'hardly ever approved'.
Context, character and impact
If you do go for a change of use planning application on the land here is what it will be judged against:-
The existing pattern e.g. gaps, enclosures, accessways, plot sizes, field pattern, settlement form;
The relationship with the dwelling house, existing curtilage and boundaries, countryside character and
designated interests including listed buildings, Conservation Areas, landscape quality;
The local tradition of garden location, shape, size and pattern e.g. in the Dales, small flower
gardens/vegetable plots are traditionally on the south side of the dwelling with fields right up to the house wall
on the north side;
Local garden boundaries e.g. gritstone walls, brick and cobble walls, hedges. Creation of new domestic
curtilages for conversions of barns in the open countryside to residential use is particularly sensitive. Where
there are existing foldyard boundaries enclosing one or more sides of the barn, it is sometimes appropriate to
treat the enclosed area as a small garden.
However, the essential character and its relationship with the countryside depends upon the local context.
Any “garden” treatment will normally have a significant adverse impact on the character of the countryside and
will not normally be permitted.
The type and significance of impact: e.g. on village form, on designated interests; and whether this can be
The “worst case scenario” (once the land becomes domestic curtilage, there is no control over future garden
design style). Most Planners see any change of land to residential as the 'thin end of the wedge' for
uncontrolled development for Swedish style garden buildings or pressure on them in the future for a change of
use of a legitimate garden lodge to a residential granny annexe for example (another dwelling by any other
The impact of associated uses or features within the domestic curtilage e.g. glasshouses, washing lines,
fountains, children’s play equipment, colourful/exotic planting, lighting;
Whether the proposal is in itself harmful, or whether it causes harm through the loss of existing features e.g.
gaps, views, grassland, trees, semi-natural habitats.
Boundaries - defining curtilage by using appropriate materials and styles for the immediate environment will
help a development blend with its surroundings (see guidance sheets on fences, walls and hedges).