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Working from home

Is the proposed activity appropriate to be undertaken at home?

In certain circumstances working from home will be acceptable and can be undertaken without a specific planning application. Planning permission will, however, be required if the overall character of the property is changed, such as when the following applies:

  • People are employed at the property who do not live there.
  • The frequency of traffic and visitors increases above that which would normally be expected in a residential area (for example, clients or deliveries).
  • Noise level increases above that which would normally be expected in a dwelling (for example, from equipment, machinery or vehicle movements).
  • Fumes or smells are generated from any work being undertaken.
  • Extensions or alterations are made to the property.
  • connected with the work (including the erection of any detached buildings within the garden).
  • A significant proportion of the home is used for working in.
  • The home is used as a base for parking business vehicles, or for the storage of materials or goods.

When your business grows

If you start a business at home its intensity may change over time, so that it moves from a situation where planning permission was not required, to one where it is. Many businesses are started as an expansion of a hobby. For example, a keen car mechanic may find their skills in demand amongst friends, neighbours and ultimately in the wider community. This will lead to an increase in the number of vehicles visiting the property and increase in noise and disturbance above that which could be expected in a residential area. In this example, planning permission would be required and depending on the location, may be considered un-neighbourly and could be refused.

Alternatively, there may be some hobbies undertaken in the home which can be expanded to provide a source of income and for which planning permission will not be required. An example could be accountancy, computer programming, the use of one room as an office base. You should, however, check with the planning officers at the Department before undertaking the activity.

The need for planning permission

To advise whether planning permission is needed, the Department must determine whether a material change of use will take place if the business is carried out. For this to be determined information must be produced on the nature, scale and operation of the business proposed. You can find out if permission is required by contacting the Department. The Department receives many complaints about disturbance from the business activities of neighbours. If an activity is found to require planning permission, but is operating without it, voluntary co-operation will be sought in relocating, otherwise enforcement action may be taken to ensure that the use ceases.

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