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Do Shipping Containers Require Planning Permission in the UK?

Last Updated on July 4, 2024

We are asked many times whether a shipping container requires planning permission. 

The answer is often no, but some councils have different rules when it comes to planning permission. 

In short, we recommend you speak to your local planning department for advice. 

What is planning permission?

It is formal permission from a local authority for the erection or alteration of buildings or a similar development. For more information, the Government has a website to find out all about planning.

When is planning permission required?

There are many factors to consider when requesting planning consent; the following (not an exhaustive list) are just some examples:

  • Areas of outstanding natural beauty
  • Conservation areas
  • Neighbours
  • Quantity of containers 
  • Sizes and types of shipping container
  • Change of use
  • Whether it benefits the community
  • How long the shipping container is required in the same position
  • Temporary or permanent
  • For private or commercial use

Exemptions and Permitted Development Rights

When you speak to your local authority, you can advise them that a shipping container is a temporary structure and can be moved at any time with specialist equipment. 

Some councils feel this is sufficient to say that planning permission is not required, but others may not. 

The local authority’s decision is final, although you can appeal if you feel there are circumstances that the council have not factored into their decision-making process.

How to apply for Planning Permission

You will need to contact your local authority, asking for the “planning department”. 

The department will advise you on whether you need planning consent or not. 

If you need planning permission the department will advise you how the application process works, e.g. what sort of documents you have to complete and return to the department for their consideration.

Planning consent may take many weeks to actually grant. Different areas of the country will take a different number of weeks. It depends on how many cases they have to deal with.

Potential challenges and how to overcome them

There can be many hurdles you will have to jump in order to get a planning permission request granted by your local authority.

We recommend you go prepared with as much detail as possible. Giving full details of your project will help with your planning consent.

Some things to think about (not an exhaustive list):

  • How it will affect the local community
  • Whether you need road closures
  • Whether it will affect the environment

If you feel there are issues with this project, then give reasonable solutions to rectify them.

If you don’t apply for planning consent beforehand, then retrospective is a possibility. However, we recommend you check with your local authority beforehand, to avoid disappointment and wasting time and money.

Case Studies

Many years ago we hired a 10ft container to a local business, on an industrial site near to a residential site. The customer spoke to the local authority to see if planning permission was required. The reply was “No, you don’t need planning permission”.

Sadly, after the container was delivered one of the residential neighbours complained to the council about said container. 

Our customer tried ‘retrospective’ planning permission. Unfortunately, as the council had received a complaint from a resident, they told the customer to remove the container. 

It’s always best to check with your local council, to avoid disappointment.

Benefits of consulting an expert

It is always best to consult an expert in the shipping container industry. We at Billie Box can guide you with requesting planning permission for your shipping container.

We have been selling and renting shipping containers for storage for over 12 years and Jane, Matt and Clare have a combined container knowledge of over 60 years.


We at Billie Box always feel it’s best to do your due diligence before spending large amounts of money and time on your project. 

We recommend you come to us for advice when speaking to your local authority’s planning department.

Call us at Billie Box, today, for our advice T: 0800 121 7388 or complete our ‘Get a Quote form‘ here.

Ask Clare, Jane or Matt (L-R) about planning permission for your shipping container