Do You Need Planning Permission for Modular School Classrooms?

Modular classrooms are a popular solution for expanding learning space for schools, colleges and universities, without the need for costly expenses that come with traditional building methods. Not only are modular classrooms more cost-effective, but they are also much quicker to build and install, they can be customised how you want and can feature many different types of utilities and functions, such as toilets, catering areas, sinks, safety appliances and much more. For schools that need to facilitate a growing number of students and faculty, they are the ideal solution.

So, what’s the catch? With all new constructions, people are wary of the UK’s laws regarding planning permission. And who wouldn’t be? Understanding planning permission can sometimes feel like traversing a minefield, and making sure that all proper rules are in place before the installation of your modular classroom starts is essential.

In this blog, we are going to help you understand if planning permission is required for your modular classroom and the reasonings as to why.

Fully set up blue and white portable nursery with wooden decking walkway leading from the side.

What are modular classrooms made of? 

Before we uncover the rules regarding planning permission, we must first look at the different types of modular classrooms that can be installed on your premises. A modular classroom can be constructed out of several different materials, including wood, steel beams, glass for the windows, as well as insulation materials so it can be effectively used during the colder months.  

Factoring in the different materials will help determine whether a modular classroom is going to be used for temporary purposes or for an extensive period. If the modular classroom is only going to be used for a short period of time, perhaps for a school event, then choosing a design with materials that are easy to build and dismantle is your best option.  

Temporary or permanent?

Understanding the time scale of how long you’ll need a modular classroom is a key factor in whether you’ll need planning permission.

Modular classrooms can absolutely be used as a temporary means and are a great solution for creating more space in quick succession. There are many reasons why you may need temporary classrooms at your school – a year group may have grown, there could be a need for more rehearsal space for the drama group or extra space during exam season.

The UK laws regarding planning permission state that any building that is in use for more than 28 days or is bigger than 200m² will require planning permission. So, if you need a modular classroom for less than that amount of time, you won’t have to apply. The added benefit of modular classrooms is they are constructed off-site and then delivered and installed on your school premises.

The 28-day rule means that if you require a modular classroom longer than this period, planning permission must be applied for. The majority of modular classrooms will be used for more than 28 days. More permanent or semi-permanent modular classrooms can be utilised for several reasons, including:

  • Extra learning space
  • Canteen areas
  • Sports halls
  • Meeting rooms
  • Changing rooms
  • Lecture rooms

Modular classrooms allow for all types of interactive and diverse learning spaces and can be made from strong, durable and sustainable materials, enabling them to last for 10 years or more. Fortunately, even if the need for a modular classroom is only for a few months, the worry about deconstructing and moving them off the school premises is eliminated. They are modular after all!

The interior of a brightly lit woodworking classroom with tables and vices.

Electricity, plumbing and extra features

Classrooms need to be safe, comfortable and functional for both students and teachers, and modular classrooms are no different. For proper teaching and learning, classrooms require features that need electricity, as well as spaces for occupants to go to the bathroom which require plumbing.

Modular classrooms can be installed with electrical wiring that needs to meet local building code requirements to efficiently connect to power outlets for computers, projectors, interactive whiteboards and other electronic equipment.

If you opt for restrooms and other water utilities, plumbing installation is a must. Dedicated learning zones for science or art classes will typically require sinks for experiments and art projects, therefore, permission to install plumbing and connect to the water supply is a guarantee.

Additional features may also require the right planning permission and align with building codes and legislation including the Equality Act 2010. The latter is required if any ramps, lifts or other accessibility features are needed. Safety features such as fire alarms, sprinkler systems and emergency exits will also be required to meet building and safety codes.

Who can help with getting planning permission for your modular classroom?

Now that you understand the specifications on whether you will need planning permission for your modular classroom, it’s good to know who can help you with the entire process. At Midlands Portable Buildings, we not only construct your modular classroom and have it delivered to your site, but we also deal with all planning applications and building regulations on your behalf, removing the hassle and worry that it entails. With MPB, you’ll have your modular classroom installed in no time, helping you reap the benefits these diverse and sustainable buildings offer.

For more information, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help.