Storage Insider: Mastering the Planning Process with Rhys Davies

By Anna Roberts

Published 4 months ago

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Staying ahead of the curve in the self storage industry isn’t just an option; it's a necessity. In this recent Self Storage Insider series, Anna Roberts, Founder and CEO of, and Rhys Davies, Director of Cadnant Planning Consultancy, provide invaluable insights for anyone looking to venture into this burgeoning industry. 

Here are some key takeaways that aspiring self storage entrepreneurs should consider:

  1. If you're thinking about building a self storage business take early advice from a planning consultant before spending too much on the process. 
  2. Planning permissions are divided into use classes. Self storage usually requires a "B8" use class.
  3. Visual impact and residential disruption are big considerations for planners.
  4. Whilst self storage doesn't employ high numbers of people, which would otherwise support a planning application, there is a case for the positive impact it has in facilitating local economic activity such as supporting small businesses who have storage units.
  5. If you're thinking about "dipping your toe in the water", just bear in mind that there will likely come a tipping point where formal planning permission will need to be sought.

Early Planning Consultation

It’s no secret that the journey into self storage development comes with regulatory complications and potential pitfalls.

Rhys Davies cannot stress enough the importance of seeking early advice from a planning consultant. "Ideally the earlier we're involved in the process, the better, so we can probably give somebody that upfront advice".

Rhys’ emphasis on the importance of seeking early advice from a planning consultant before committing significant resources to your project. This can clear the path ahead, helping you avoid costly mistakes and streamline the planning process.

Planning Permissions and Use Classes

An aspect of self storage development is navigating the maze that is planning permissions, particularly understanding the role of use classes.

The classification of self storage within the "B8" use class is an important piece of information for anyone in the development phase.

Rhys explains: "If you're looking at container storage, then there are a number of sites where people can store containers on site under a B8 consent because effectively you're citing those storage containers on an existing kind of storage site.

Self storage facilities typically fall under the "B8" use class, which pertains to storage and distribution. Recognising this classification early in the planning stage is crucial for aligning your development plans with local regulatory frameworks, making the approval process smoother.

Visual Impact and Residential Disruption

Anna and Rhys touched on the subject of the visual impact of self storage developments. "The siting of containers on open land, whether it's in existing industrial areas or elsewhere, then some of the sites can be quite sensitive in terms of the assessment of kind of visual impact.” Rhys states.

Minimising visual intrusion and managing the facility's impact on local residential amenities is crucial in the planning process. Developers must have a balance between operational needs and the project's aesthetic and environmental footprint to secure planning consent.

Economic Benefits of Self-Storage

Despite self storage facilities not being large direct employers, Rhys points out their significant role in supporting local economies. 

"In a lot of cases, job creation on site itself is obviously quite low, but then the self storage kind of uses can have broader economic benefits in terms of their benefits to other businesses" he notes.

The economic contributions of self storage facilities extend far beyond their immediate footprint, playing a role in supporting and facilitating local businesses. Highlighting these broader economic benefits, self storage entrepreneurs can make a compelling case for their projects, showcasing their potential to serve as vital components of the local economic ecosystem.

Tipping Point for Formal Planning Permission

For those "dipping their toe in the water" with small-scale self storage operations, Rhys advises awareness of the tipping point requiring formal planning permission.

"There might be a tipping point where you kind of, where effectively you need a formal consent," he explains. stressing the importance of recognising when an operation evolves from a minor activity to one that requires official planning approval.

Recognising when an expansion or initial setup crosses into territory that necessitates formal planning approval is key to maintaining regulatory compliance.

This “tipping point" is not merely about the physical expansion of a facility but also involves complex factors including the scale of operation, the impact on the local environment, and the intensity of use.

In essence, the tipping point for formal planning permission is a critical phase in the life cycle of a self storage operation. Recognising and preparing for this phase means that operators can expand their businesses confidently, with the knowledge that they are in full compliance with planning regulations.

Anna and Rhys offer a roadmap for navigating the intricate world of self storage development. From the need for early planning advice to the strategic navigation of planning permissions and the economic benefits, their insights are vital.

Let these insights help you plan toward a successful self storage business, highlighting the importance of strategic planning and informed decision-making in this competitive landscape.

Are you looking to start in the self storage industry and are looking for development advice? Consider reaching out to Cadnant Planning Consultancy.

Visit their website today or contact Cadnant Planning Consultancy to learn how they can help.

Contact Cadnant Planning Consultancy:


Conwy: 01492 581800

Chester: 01244 621007


Visit Website: provides Remote Management services specifically for smaller and independent self storage operators who may want to hand over the day to day sales and operations of the site so they can focus on other things, such as another business, family or strategic growth.

We offer a range of services all provided by our friendly and experienced in-house team.

If you're interested in learning more about this service, contact our Network Manager Jaqui Jeffries at:

You can watch Anna's full interview with Rhys Davies below:

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