Do you need Planning Permission for a Tennis Court or Outdoor Swimming Pool?

Spending more time at home and in your local community has become a way of life during covid. Community groups and even individuals have been looking at ways they can enhance their surroundings. If you have the land, money and inclination, installing a tennis court or swimming pool in your community (or home) is a great way to enhance your environment! Which raises the question… Do you need planning permission for a tennis court or outdoor swimming pool?

Do you need planning permission for a tennis court?

A lot depends on where your tennis court is located and how it’s designed. If you are thinking about a community or commercial venture, or you want to recreate Wimbledon in your back yard, then yes you probably do need planning permission. However if you are just looking to use an existing grass surface in your home for personal use, and simply install a tennis net without high boundary fences you probably don’t need planning permission. That said it is always worth double checking with your local authority first.

If you desire a professional, hard court with permitter fence or net, then you probably do need planning permission for several reasons.

The perimeter fencing (usually 2.75m), is above the 2m limit and more often than not may be within 2m of the property boundary. Also, being some 600 sq m in area, they often cannot be accommodated within the domestic curtilage and so will probably need a change of land use.

Tennis courts within the curtilage of a listed building will most likely require planning permission, but they may not require listed-building consent: only if there is an impact on a listed structure. This may also apply if the fence is adjacent to a neighbour’s boundary and the neighbour’s house is listed.

If significant earth-moving is required (which usually is) then that is another reason for the need for permission. It may not seem like much to you, but your local planning authority might not see it that way so it is always best to check with them!

Floodlights are one aspect of having a tennis court built that can often trip people up in terms of planning permission. Because floodlights are an elevated outdoor light source and could affect neighbours you will need to gain permission before you have them set up (or you could consider the possibility of retractable floodlights).

If you are installing a tennis court in your local community or for a commercial venture, then you will definitely need planning permission. It is certainly worth having a planning consultant on board to help you through the process!

Do you need planning permission for an outdoor swimming pool?

Again, much depends on whether you are installing the swimming pool for individual use (e.g. at your home), or if it is a community or commercial venture.

If you are installing the swimming pool as a community for commercial venture, then yes you will need planning permission. 

The good news is that, unless you are looking to build a swimming pool on land surrounding a listed building (in which case you will definitely need planning permission), most homeowners with a large enough garden can build an outdoor pool under their permitted development rights. Swimming pools are covered by Class E for householders, and can be built without planning permission as long as you stay within the regulations. See below for more info about Class E and Permitted Development.

But, as ever with planning regulations, it’s not a simple yes/no question.

Permitted Development rules are different if you live in a World Heritage Site, a National Park, an area of outstanding natural beauty or the Broads. And permitted development rights, which are set by national government, can be suspended by individual councils under Article 4 directions, so it’s always wise to check with your local authority before considering any building works.

It’s important to know that even if you do live in a listed building, or you can’t use permitted development, it doesn’t mean that you can’t build something. It just means that in order to do so, you will have to apply for planning permission.

Planning House can’t necessarily tell you if you will be successful in your application, but we can advise and support you through the planning process. Contact us for more information and to see how we can help.

You might find some of the following articles useful…

>> The Basics of Permitted Development and Use Class
>> A Practical Guide to Listed Buildings
>> When to hire a Town Planner

planning permission for swimming pool or tennis court