Check if you need planning permission for your catio

Catios are a very good idea because they are an excellent compromise between providing an enriched environment for your cat and safety. In my opinion, many more people should build one or even better a full-blown enclosure in their backyard. However, as is highlighted by this story, you need to make sure that either planning permission is not required or if it is required that it is obtained.

Catio in Kirkless
Catio in Kirkless
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

RELATED: Cat flap that required planning permission before installation

The catio that went wrong

Sue and Richard Howarth live in Yorkshire, UK. According to The Yorkshire Post they have four cats, Chloe, Floyd, Freddie and Millie. They wanted, like any other responsible cat guardian, to ensure that their cats were safe so they built a 9-foot high and 13′ x 11.5′ feet catio but critically it was built in the front garden rather than at the rear (unviable to build it at the rear?). It’s was built to a high quality and cost £10,000. A not unsubstantial amount of money which confirms that they are committed to the safety of their cats.

They did not, it appears, think about planning permission which resulted in a year-long battle to keep the catio because their neighbours complained about the construction. The local council ruled against them and told them that they had to dismantle it. They year-long battle to keep their catio has failed.

The catio that breached planning regulations
The catio that breached planning regulations being dismantled. Photo: The Yorkshire Post.

The picture above shows them dismantling it and they are both pleased that the matter is now over. They had tried to redesign it to find a compromise without success. The planning went against them because the catio detracted from the character of the buildings. As I remember, this is a row of terraced houses with some historical significance and they live in a conservation area, a critical fact that Sue and Richard were unaware of.

They are disappointed that Kirklees Council did not accept a lightweight version of the catio. They have maintained good relationships with their neighbours which is fortunate and now their cats go outside which is typical of British owned cats. Sue is a little anxious about this but it appears that she has to accept it. One councillor, Donna Bellamy, supported the Howarths and was surprised that the council rejected the compromise design.

The Howarths had many supporters as indicated by an online petition which attracted over 11,000 signatures. The Yorkshire Post also tells us that it was backed by Jackson Galaxy in America. The lesson learned is that you have to make sure that planning permission is not required before building a structure such as this which is quite large. Perhaps the worst part about it is that you can get into an argument with your neighbours. This almost invariably has a big negative impact upon your lifestyle and can sometimes force people to move. Fortunately, as mentioned, in this instance the neighbours still get along nicely.

Associated page:

More hassle and distress: Brilliant catio has to be torn down demands local authority.

Front gardens (yards)

Both these fine catios were built at the front. The planning laws are probably tighter than at the back. And planning regulations will change from place to place. It just pays to ask the local authority before commencing.

Catio built without planning permission has to be demolished
Catio built without planning permission has to be demolished. Screenshot

4 thoughts on “Check if you need planning permission for your catio”

  1. I am hoping to build a catio in the back garden. Do you know how much boundary has to be made between my neighbour? They complain about everything so I’m sure they will have something to say.

    • Hi Susan. I don’t think there is a legal required on the distance that you state in all jurisdictions but the answer is to have a solid wall on the side adjacent to your neighbor’s property and the rest open with meshed fencing material. They may well be planning issues depending on where you live on building a rear extension which is what I presume you are visualising.

      This is the kind of thing I visualise but this is for a terraced house. I don’t know your type of property.


  2. I built a catio that did not require planning permission, but I have it 3ft high decking. The houses in my street back door is 3ft off the ground, so most neighbours got decking the same height, also trees at rear of property are about 30ft high. My neighbour also raised the boundary wall which means I can’t not have decking. After the catio went up he raised wall again putting grey breeze blocks on my side and nice red brick on his own. I’ve contacted council,police as he throws stuff at the cats, and am awaiting solicitor advice as neighbours took great exception to 3ft of transparent caging view over 5ft wall.(when standing on the decking)catios generally don’t need permission as they dont affect light noise etc, but if you have nasty neighbours your life will just be made hellish by them.

    • Heather, I am very sorry to hear your story. You certainly have a genuine problem with a neighbour like that. The problem is that if you have a dispute with your neighbour for whatever reason, as you say, it can make life difficult. It can make life a lot worse and often it is very difficult to resolve the matter. I presume that your cats are full-time indoor cats which is why you built the catio i.e. to allow them some safe semi-outdoor space. If that is true then your troublesome neighbour is pretty ignorant because in building a catio for full-time indoor cats you are preventing them going onto your neighbour’s property so you are doing him a favour. You are helping him and being respectful of him. Therefore I don’t see that he has cause to complain. Perhaps, as you say, he probably hates cats and is probably a very difficult person anyway. Once again, I am sorry and thanks for commenting. You have earned five cents for a cat charity!


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