Declaration Prealable refused for 12m2 Timber Cabin

Hello everyone,

I have a peice of land (approx 1100m2) in the beautiful Limousin near Lac Pardoux which I have had for about 10 years

We go every summer for a camping holiday on it but for some time I have been planning to build a small log cabin

I filled out the Declaration Prealable form and submitted it along with a full set of drawings using the online Geo-Permis website (Abri de Jardin, 12m2 floor area)

This week a received a letter from the Marie saying that my building permit has been refused becuase my land is not in an urbanised part of the commune. My land is just off a road and is seprated from a small hamlet by 1 farmers field. They specifically quote L111-3 (limited buildability) of the town planning code.

Really gutted to get this letter as its always been my dream to build this cabin, I have taken a 4 month sabatical from work and leave for france in a week and have all my timber waiting for me at the local saw mill which is all bought and paid for!

Any advice on how to get this building permit granted will be greatly appreciated, when we bought the land the agent did say that the land previously had a Certificat d’Urbanisme but we never saw this and I belive it had expired prior to our purchase.

I have the letters as PDF’s which I can share



Hi Charlie and welcome to SF

The law changed in more recent time (about 2013 ISTR) where each commune was required to submit a PLU and if it hasn’t been declared on the plan, it’s not going to happen (until the PLU is changed in the next cycle perhaps).
Many have been affected by this - in some cases where planning permission had previously been granted but the PLU then countermanded it. There were local consultations at the time - indeed, part of our parcels of land which had permission was being offered up by the commune to reduce the amount of building land in the commune - but we appealed it (as we had already approved building plans) and we were supported by the Mairie with the inspector and won our case, allowing us to proceed.
The time for that sort of action has now, sadly, long passed from what I can see.
PLU reference here
The best you might expect now is a temporary moveable building on the land (such as a caravan), but you will have to seek appropriate advice from your Mairie about that and what might be permitted.

Hi Graham,

Many thanks for your response, I’ve been reading about the Certificats d’Urbanisme process

Would applying for a CU mean that my plot can be considered to be urbanized and if granted my building permit application could be granted?

Thanks, Charlie

sadly, doubtful.
The commune would need to update the PLU in the next round by a vote of the sitting council. The granting of a CU is no longer in the gift of the commune but is now handled centrally in the prefecture.

You say it is your dream to build this cabin… (is this for living in??)
and yet you applied for an Abri de Jardin which is a small shed with a restricted height…
I feel that you certainly need to go and speak with your Mairie asap.
They will advise you what IS and is NOT possible…

Is there any chance of you living there and raising animals/farming in some small way… I do know of one instance where this successfully circumnavigated the restrictions…

If all fails, I hope you can get your money back on the wood you have bought…

Hi Stella, no its just a holiday cabin, we normnally go in the summer for a couple of weeks

The reason I ticked the abri de jardin box on the Déclaration Préalable form is that was the catagory that best fit my project, you’d tick this for example you were building a summer house

Yes I will try and get an appointment with the Marie when I’m out there


Thanks Graham,

Not the news I wanted to hear but very useful information

I’ve just been reading about habitations légères de loisirs (HLL) in response to your comment about a caravan (not a fan of the look of caravans so wouldnt want one on the land!), I wonder if I could again apply for a building permit for the same small cabin but on a chassis so it is moveable

Thanks, Charlie

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So you want a cabin which you can eat and sleep in… ie living quarters (however basic).

Definitely need to discuss with the Mairie since this needs more than the Préalable.

What a shame you obviously missed my warnings to folk about speaking with the Mairie before going ahead with a project (in your case, buying and paying for the wood).

EDIT if all you want is a “summerhouse” why not ask for an open-sided building with a roof. they might allow that at a pinch.

These sorts of things are regularly refused round here as the maire knows full well they are not abri de jardin or wood stores but are intended to be used for people to sleep in - even if 12m2.

What most people do is do a declaration for an open sided shelter - basically a roof on legs. Under the roof they build a long table and benches, bbq and pizza oven and then camp out at weekends.

I think it extremely unlikely that you will get permission to build a log cabin. It sets a precedent that is not wanted as many people would immediately do the same.

(Just talking to a friend who is on the council - these things are defended very vigorously, even on appeal, as it’s not just the precedent for a cabin but whether it starts to set conditions for a permanent dwelling.)

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Hi Jane,

Thanks for the information, the letter I got from the Marie makes no reference to the cabin itself just that the land is outside of the urbanised zone so construction is not possible

Like I said I’ve been enjoying the area for years and I just thought the building permit was a fornmality, now learning I was very wrong!

May just be easier for me to buy a small house in the area of which there are plenty for sale


Sounds like a good plan… best of luck.

I think others have made the points you seek answers for. I don’t think I can usefully add more.

No construction seems quite clear - no abri de jardin, no cabins, no enclosed shelters, no machinery stores. This is the usual situation for unoccupied land in rural areas. If your land shares a boundary with the village or other built up areas then you might manage to get it reclassified the next time the PLU is amended. But otherwise you could just cause yourself stress. If you have been enjoying the land so far as is can’t you continue to do so?

If you think about it from another perspective it may help you understand. You probably paid a very low price for your land. If everyone was allowed to do this and then build on it, that would be a much cheaper way for people to get a house. So lots of people would do it. And once there is a habitable dwelling then the local services have to be provided - school buses, nurses Ă  domicile etc etc. Let alone dealing with sewage and providing water.

Just because you only want it for holidays doesn’t mean that whoever you eventually pass it on it will want the same.

We have one plot on the edge of our village that was refused permission, and on appeal has been able to build a temporary structure for maximum 28 days use ( or maybe 56, I forget).

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I do not think you can ever get permission to put a garden shed on land where there is not already a building. It would be a bit like adding a dépendance to a house that does not exist.
So the “abri de jardin” may not have been the correct box to tick, but from what you say there was no correct box to tick because if it is in a non constructible zone then you cannot construct anything.
Would you have wanted electricity, water and sewerage connections?

In any case, buying a small house seems to be the way forward.

As Charlie has discovered, building something in France is not as easy as some might think/say…
It’s been said before, but perhaps we need to remind ourselves of the basics:
It is a myth that one can erect a building anywhere, provided it is small enough.
Thus, anyone buying land/property is advised to check with the Mairie to establish the basic rights of said parcel.
Anyone wishing to erect any building (however small) on their land/garden/whatever should check with their Mairie and ensure that correct procedures are followed.
It’s not advisable to spend money on the “project” before confirming with the Mairie that the project is viable…

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Indeed and perhaps we could add, be aware that permissions tend to be time limited. If at the time of purchase the permissions are in place, make a start on the work before the permit expires. Do not allow it to lapse assuming you will be able to renew it because this will not necessarily be the case. Renewal is not a formality any more than obtaining permission in the first place.


Quite right…
This should be discussed/noted at time of receiving the permit but folk do tend to forget such stuff.

Locally, folk were advised to “put-in” (future) building requests NOW, urgently… as the PLU would be changing and drastically reducing the building areas of our commune…
yet still a few were caught-short and have missed the deadlines. aaaargh.

Just another thought (from personal experience within our Commune)

When buying Land with existing Buildings (or Ruins) in France, please do NOT assume you will be able to add more Buildings.
You might be able to enlarge some/all of the existing buildings…
You might be able to knock down the lot and put up a housing-estate…
BUT you might not be able to change anything at all.

Existing buildings do not promise anything… please check at the Mairie and discuss ideas/plans… before engaging in anything legally binding/financially expensive.

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Just for clarification the abri de jardin is a shed or is it an open sided structure.

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Plus all the authorities can now spy on properties from the air and see what is being built and then check if permission was granted etc. Swimming pool owners have been caught out massively by not following the correct proceedures for installing or just wanting to escape paying taxes on them.