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Guidance on planning permission for my observatory

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Hello all,

As per the title, I would appreciate some guidance (I stress "guidance" as I realise that a black and white answer could only, ultimately, be provided by my district council) on whether I would require planning permission to erect my remote observatory as detailed below. I figured it would be prudent to ask fellow forum members who are likely to have come up against this question.

Here goes my attempt at describing the structure, otherwise I will have to have a go at drawing it in Sketchup! :

A wooden enclosure seated on one of the surfaces of a standard gable roofed garage. The garage is a separate building to the house. The pier supporting the equatorial mount is attached to the roof joists. The pier then protrudes through the tiles to raise the 'scope up to a decent vantage point. The top of the enclosure will be slightly higher then the garage roof's apex. The enclosure lid is remotely operated. The roof design is that of two halves that drop down to the hinge plane when in use. It won't be used for direct visual observing.


I have read this FAQ from Pulsar's website, and so wanted to ask for guidance given my unusual design.

Do I need planning permission?

There may be special circumstances relating to your site that make a planning application necessary, but generally planning permission will not be required. The observatory is not a permanent structure (as defined) and has a rotating roof so it is questionable whether it should be regarded as a building at all.


If I get a clear 'it'll be fine' from fellow members then I won't bother formally enquiring to my district council.

Thank you in advance.

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Morning Matthew,

My best advice or 'guidance' to you would be to have a friendly chat with your local planning officer.

I did when I was building my dome some years ago at my previous address, his only concern was how far is it from my neighbours boundary, was it under 3 metres in height and what was it built of - i.e. not brick!

Other than that he wasn't overly concerned. Also I have found out that a friendly chat to your neighbours is also worthwhile to ease any 'concerns' they may have. 

Hope this helps,


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Also check if you're in a conservation area. We are, and consequently, lots of things that normally wouldn't require planning permission, do for us.


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Only your local council can advise you with any authority.

Up here you can pretty much do as you please. When I lived in Somerset you couldn't do anything without permission - but it was in the grounds of Dunster Castle on the edge of Exmoor !

I have always found that a friendly pre-emptive call to the planning office is very worthwhile.

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One more for a quick, informal chat with the planners.


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As stated by the above,  a quick call costs little but could set your mind at rest and get those plans going.


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Unless you're in a UK conservation area you could be in the clear!  Then as a general rule PP is not required and covered under "permitted development" if..

the structure is under 4m high [to apex of roof]

is of modest size [compared to the gross area of dwelling]

is behind the street 'building line'

is not attached directly with the dwelling and with suitable clearance

is not habitable!

Householders are entitled to enjoy their property and gardens with a shed /greenhouse /workshop etc.  It can be built of timber even if near the boundary but should not present a fire hazard to neighbours through use and contents.   

Generally private obsys are often no more than sheds where the roof moves aside to observe the sky !   Calling your project an "observatory" will guarantee lots of interest on the novelty value with the Planning Dept which may give unwarranted hassle !  Go easy and good luck.




Edited by nytecam

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