Planning Permission for Toro Shelters Fabric Buildings – The misunderstood truth.

When it comes to re-locatable fabric structures and modular flat-packed structures there are often misconceptions in the minds of the general public as to whether they need planning permission for temporary buildings from the Local Planning Authority (LPA).

Many interested parties believe “If it is temporary… it does not need planning permission”. Sadly, this is not the case. In short, a large structure erected for more than 28 days and is NOT a permitted development on the site will need planning permission. We have dealt with Permitted Development Rights (PD’s) in another article entitled – Tensioned Membrane Buildings – Further Planning Advice.

This discussion page is an attempt to set out some of the sorts of issues that are likely to arise on a planning application to an (LPA) when embarking on erecting a fabric or modular structure. Clearly, this article is not a definitive list but is our take on where points of dispute with local planning authorities are likely to arise.

In short, the key variables that will be considered when applying for planning permission:

  • Size of the structure;
  • Use of the structure;
  • Siting of the structure. 

To give you an idea of what we mean by that, two extremes could be considered:

  1. A small shelter, in an industrial area, which is proposed to be used for the medium-term storage of equipment (i.e. few associated trips with the building, no emissions associated with its use);
  2. A large shelter, in an area of outstanding natural beauty, close to residential properties, which is proposed to be used for a transport-intensive, smelly activity (say the interim storage and transit of waste, manure, or some other organic matter).

Clearly one of those is going to encounter more problems within the planning system, owing principally to its size, use or situation. There will of course seldom be extreme cases like these, but they serve to illustrate the broad range of objections (at one end of the spectrum) or support (at the other) that applications will face. In terms of specific issues, the following are likely to come up again and again:

Visual impact of the structure

We are talking about relatively substantial structure covered in tensioned fabric, which will be very visible in certain circumstances. The visual impact is going to be an issue for applications,  different structure designs and colours of the exterior fabric will help to reduce the impact of the shelters. Our structures can be designed and covered with coloured membrane specifically to lower the visual impact we have discussed. For example, Toro has designed a salt barn for the Central Bedfordshire Council in RAL colour 6005 (see below), which was a stipulation from the local council Planning Department.

Noise, smell, dust and litter emissions

From buildings that have an effect on the amenity of the local area, such as noise and smell, are going to prove problematic in certain circumstances. For instance, that can happen when you have sensitive receptors close to the site of the proposed building such as residential development. That’s why Toro Shelters has developed temporary buildings that protect bulk material such as wood and salt. Their purpose is to keep odours and dust in and the weather and pests out. For example, our salt barns are designed to keep salt dry and to prevent salt contaminating the environment.

Access and transport

This ties in with the effects on amenity point above, any proposals that see (relatively) high volumes of transport to and from a building will struggle to obtain LPA sign off, subject to adequate mitigation being put in place. The other aspect to this subject in consideration of the access to the proposed.

Case-by-case considerations:

Each application for planning permission should be considered on a case-by-case basis. In doing so, the following aspects of an application will be viewed in a favourable light.

Temporary Structures

A big selling point for Toro shelters in planning terms is that they could be viewed as temporary structures (they can be moved and often do not require a formal foundation element. This will be attractive to the LPA, and whilst not all applicants will want a temporary planning permission, in some cases, the restriction of the permission to a period of (say) three/five years may tip the planning balance in favour of the application.

Structure Flexibility

Again, because Toro shelters can essentially be erected anywhere, that added flexibility may allow them to be moved onto areas of a site that are acceptable to an LPA but would otherwise not be open to normal buildings.

Permitted Development Rights (PD)

The PD rights we will set-out in a later article should always be borne in mind.

If you have a particularly complex situation, which is business-critical or of significant financial consequence, we would advise you to engage planning professionals at the earliest opportunity. The team at Toro would be delighted to put you in touch with a professional proportionate to your needs.


Work in Progress

Ensuring Success when Planning for your Industrial Buildings