Do I Need Planning Permission?

If you're planning an ambitious garden project - such as a multi-level, terraced patio or a particularly high or long fence - you might reasonably wonder whether or not planning permission is required.

There are plenty of different conditions that might apply to your specific situation, and in general, if your circumstances include any one of the potential reasons why planning permission might be required, you will need to speak to your local planning office.

Remember though, unless there's a specific reason why you should apply for planning permission, you should be OK to carry out the work without notifying anybody.

Patios and Driveways

The government's Planning Portal website details some of the conditions that might mean you need planning permission before you lay a new patio or driveway.

Front Gardens

Modern-day regulations mean that, if you are paving over your front garden, you may need to make sure you use a permeable paving system.

This does not mean that paving the area is out of the question - and in fact, in some instances, a combination of hard paving (such as concrete patio slabs) and permeable loose gravel can satisfy the drainage requirements.

Likewise, if you are creating a new driveway, two rows of hard paving for the tyres to drive over, combined with a more permeable surrounding material, can satisfy the drainage demands and make a striking visual effect too.

Find out more about paving your front garden.

Flats

If you live in a flat, even if you are on the ground floor, you may not have sole control over the surrounding land, so make sure you are not planning to carry out work on communal land.

Even if the land at ground-level is privately owned by you, you should ensure that you don't do anything that might make it more difficult to access the property - including your own flat.

For example, while it may be OK to put steps into a garden as a decorative landscaping feature, it usually will not be acceptable to put steps on the access route without permission.

Listed Buildings

Any significant work done on a listed building will need permission - regardless of whether it is carried out indoors or on the exterior.

You might think laying a patio is only a temporary alteration that could be fully restored to its former condition, but if your property is listed, or you are in a conservation area, you might still need to seek permission.

Major Works

If your landscaping involves substantial work to level the land or create multi-tiered terraces, you might need to make sure you get the necessary planning approvals.

This is most likely if you are artificially creating the support structure for a hard surface by levelling or building up the land beneath it.

Planning approval simply means that the work is carried out to the necessary standard - so that your newly laid patio terrace does not suffer from subsidence further down the line.

Other Projects

While the list above may seem long, it only applies to a fairly small proportion of projects; if you are simply replacing an existing patio, or laying a few paving slabs in your own back garden, without major landscaping work or any change to how the property is accessed, you shouldn't need planning permission.

If you are in any doubt, check the Planning Portal.

Fences

Fences are often built along the boundary between two properties, and if that is the case, it is more likely that planning approval will be needed.

However, as long as you respect the position of the boundary, a reasonable garden fence - or a replacement for an existing fence - shouldn't cause any problems.

High Fences

If your fence adjoins a public highway used by vehicles, you will need planning permission for anything over 1m in height - this includes if there is a pavement or footpath between your property's boundary and the road surface itself.

Elsewhere, you should be able to construct a fence up to 2m in height without needing planning approval.

Listed Buildings

Again, if your property is a listed building - or is positioned on the curtilage of a listed building - approval is likely to be needed.

Similarly, if your fence is to be built along a section of boundary that adjoins a listed property, you will also need to seek approval before work begins.

In a conservation area, you may need to seek specific conservation area consent before taking down an existing wall or fence.

Other Projects

Aside from the restrictions listed above, in most other cases you should not need permission to take down an existing fence or wall, to maintain existing structures, or to alter or maintain them.

This is the case with any height of fence or wall, provided that the work you do to it does not increase the height.

Walls

Garden walls may be treated as party walls under the Party Walls Act etc 1996, meaning you may need to notify your neighbour before you carry out any work.

This does not apply to wooden fences, potentially making them a better or easier option in all circumstances, and especially if you find it difficult to agree with your neighbours on any exterior work along the boundary.

Find out more about planning permission for fences, walls and gates.