Climbing Frames for Small Gardens

A guide to choosing climbing frames for small gardens.

   Mar 17

Planning Permission

Climbing Frame Planning Permission

When choosing your climbing frame, it is very important to consider its location in your garden. Potential problems with upset neighbours or local authorities can often be avoided by following regulations and guidelines correctly. 

These can relate to the height, size and boundaries and are much more restrictive if you are in a conservation area or an area of natural beauty.

So what are the rules?

Rules governing outbuilding apply to a range of ancillary garden buildings and outdoor structures. These include swimming pools, ponds, kennels and climbing frames which are intended for a purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house. 

Under new regulations that came into effect on 1 October 2008 outbuildings are considered to be permitted development, but do not needing planning permission, subject to the following limits and conditions:

  • No outbuilding forward of the principal elevation fronting a highway.
  • Outbuildings must be single story with a maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum 
    overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for any other roof.
  • Note: This rules out some of the larger climbing frame models on the market, which have 
    multi level platforms and exceed this height. Please take care to check the specifications 
    and floor plans before committing to any given model.
  • The Maximum height allowed for your climbing frame is 2.5 metres, which must be installed 
    within two metres of a boundary.
  • There are to be no verandas, balconies or raised platforms.
  • No more than half the area of land around the “original house” would be covered by 
    additions or other buildings.
  • In National Parks, the Broads, areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites
  •  The maximum area to be covered by buildings, enclosures, containers and pools more than 20 
    metres from house to be limited to 10 square metres.
  • In National Parks, the Broads, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and World Heritage Sites buildings, enclosures, containers and pools at the side of properties will require planning permission. Within the curtilage of listed buildings any outbuilding will require planning permission.

Planning Permission for a climbing frame in the front garden.

Climbing frames are usually associated with adventure playgrounds, parks, schools and back gardens. Although this is not always the case. Sometimes there simply isn’t enough space available in the back garden. After all there is a lot of competition, what with conservatorys, garden sheds, garages, vegetable patches and even garden fountains.

If you would like to utilise your front garden, you should take great care and plan your build carefully. It would be devastating spend hundreds or even thousands of pounds on a garden climbing frame, only for a single complaint from a neighbour or council authority to see it removed shortly afterwards. Not to mention the hours of blood, sweat and tears  poured into the assembly and unfortunate removal.

The Good News

If the rules and regulations are followed correctly, the majority of garden climbing frames will not pose a problem. By checking with local authorities and neighbours before you purchase your climbing frame, the majority of issues can be avoided before they ever happen. 

The Bad News

If you do not comply with the regulations relating to your climbing frame structure, you  may be responsible for contravening them. As such the local authority has the right to enforce the building regulations as will at  upon its power to do so. Please take care to contact your local authorities if you have any questions or reservations.

The Unlucky Few – stories of how not to do it.
Killjoy council orders grandparents to take down their garden climbing frame … after they moved it 20ft

Climbing Frame Permission

Image Source

We recently learnt of some unlucky grand children, who were ordered to move their new climbing frame only days after it was installed.  It appears an anonymous phone call, perhaps from an grumpy neighbour, sparked an investigation from the Aylesbury Vale District Council. The council reluctantly ruled against the children’s climbing frame and ordered its immediate removal. Enforcement officers advised grandparents Carolyn and Gerry English from Buckinghamshire, that planning permission to change the use of their land had not been granted. ‘The committee rejected the application for change of use on the basis that it would cause harm to the rural character and appearance of the area. What a shame. Especially given that planning permission was granted for a play area on a half-acre site at the other side of the field onto which Mr and Mrs English’s garden finishes.

This is an unusual case which relates to the use of an extra plot of land, measuring 30ft by 15ft by 70 yards which backs onto a seven acre playing field. The original purpose of the land did not include permission for a structure of this kind.

A simple solution was available, by moving the climbing frame 20ft towards the house, whilst remaining a regulation distance from its surroundings. Although some assemble would be required, it does mean that the girls can continue to enjoy their climbing frame for years to come. Neighbour or no neighbour. Hooray!

Read the full climbing frame planning permission story here.

Your child’s climbing frame needs planning permission, Bristol dad told

Within weeks of putting up a wooden climbing frame in his new garden, university lecturer Dr David Galbreath received a letter from South Gloucestershire council telling him there had been a complaint from one of his neighbours.

It appears the annoymous neighbour in question felt that the climbing frame infringed upon privacy due to the height of the play towers. In order for it to stay, it would need to be no more than 2.5 metres high and within two metres of the boundary of his property, and not have any raised platforms.

South Gloucestershire planning officers advised him that anything that did not comply with the restrictions needed planning permission – they said he could apply for retrospective planning permission but he would be unlikely to get it.

Permitted development rights allow structures to be built within gardens without planning permission, so long as they are no more than 2.5 metres high if they are located within two metres of the boundary of the property, and do not have any raised platforms. Any structures which do not comply with the restrictions would require planning permission.

The moral of the story is to check with your neighbours before purchasing or assembling your garden climbing frame.

Read the full planning permission story here.

Check and check again.

Take a moment to contact your local council or planning office to ensure their rules and 
regulations are met before installation takes place. There is no point in buying a 
wonderful garden climbing frame if you have no where to put it.
Make a note of the size of your chosen climbing frame, including the tower height if 
applicable and the space required on and around the structure.

It may also be worth speaking with your neighbours about your plans, even if your climbing 
frame complies with regulations. It will be far easier to work out any concerns at this 
stage of planning.


We have tried to cover as much ground as possible, (if you will excuse the pun) to ensure  everything goes to plan when purchasing and installing your garden climbing frame.

Please note that while every effort has been made to provide accurate and useful  information, we cannot be held responsible should anything go wrong.  However we do promise to keep our advice as up to date and relevant as possible.

Useful Resources
For more information please feel free to visit the Planning Portal


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