Legal requirements for tourism businesses

Planning permission and building control for tourism businesses


If you plan to open a small bed and breakfast in your own home, you may not need planning permission to start your business. The key test to decide if you need planning permission is whether you will change the overall nature of the house. For example, a building changing from a private home to business premises.

Changing the use of premises

If your home will no longer be used mainly as a private residence, and your business activities will affect the area where you live then you will likely need planning consent for a change of use. Things affecting the local area include disturbance to neighbours and increased footfall.

You only need planning permission if the new building use is classed differently from the current one. For example, changing the building from a greengrocer to a shoe shop will not need planning permission as both are classed as shops. However, if you're changing a home into a guest house then you will need planning permission.

Contact your council’s local planning office for advice.

New premises

If you are agreeing a lease or buying a new property for your accommodation start-up, you should consider in advance if you need to get planning permission for your intended use. Also think about what your chances of getting it are. Contact your local area planning office for their advice at an early stage. 

Building regulations

Building regulations apply if you plan to:

  • convert, extend or make changes to the structure of an existing property
  • construct a new building 

These rules set standards on the safety and stability of any building work.

If you're planning on carrying out work on your premises, you must apply with your local Building Control Office