Do I Need Planning Permission To Turn My Front Garden Into A Driveway?
The current planning permissions regulations regarding building driveways over existing front gardens explained and why a permeable surface is important.
Understanding current legislation and the surfacing options available
If you have a reasonable sized front garden, your desire to turn it into a driveway or similar hard standing area may be governed by the chance to make the most of what may be unused space. Perhaps you wish to create extra car parking in a multi car household, extra parking when throwing a party, or maybe provide a permanent area of hard standing for your caravan or motorhome?
Whatever the reasoning, being aware of what you can and can’t do is of course paramount.
In a nutshell, you do not require planning permission to turn your front garden area into a driveway or replace an existing driveway, so long as you will use permeable (porous) surfacing to allow water to drain through.
Examples of materials allowing water to drain include gravel, porous asphalt and permeable concrete block paving or a drainage method allowing water to be channelled to a lawn or earth border to drain away.
If your proposed driveway surface is impermeable, then for anything covering more than a five square metre surface area planning permission would be required.
For permeable surfaces, this exemption of planning permission only applies to the actual front garden area. Any associated work such as erecting walls, fences, or dropping the kerb to allow easier vehicular access to the driveway, may require its own specific planning permission. For example, dropping a kerb may entail the strengthening of the pavement so the local authority will definitely want to know what you have in mind.
The problems with impermeable hard surfaces
As urban areas and towns and cities increase in size, so more hard surfaces are created such as roads, driveways, pavements and hard standing areas. This increases the already higher risk of flooding as rainwater runs off hard surfaces straight into the drainage systems instead of soaking naturally into the ground.
The drains are finding it harder to cope with the increased demands made on them in periods of heavier and prolonged rainfalls; as a consequence they sometimes overflow which can cause flooding.
Therefore, if adding another hard surface to the equation as you would be if replacing a grassed front garden with a driveway, it’s important to try and make it a permeable surface so water can drain naturally into the ground rather than run off and add to the main drain’s burden.
Building your driveway
There are various options for creating a permeable driveway; the main priority is to engage the services of a reputable and experienced landscape or driveway contractor. Don’t rely on a casual ‘jobbing’ contractor of the type who cold canvas neighbourhoods by knocking on your door.
For example, a permeable base layer has to be created and if the soil beneath your garden is clay-based then connections to the drains may be required. The work creating the sub layer (the layer beneath the new driveway) is vital and best left to experts.
One method particularly useful if you’d still like to use grass but reinforce it and ensure good drainage on a suitable sub layer is to use a plastic paver such as the Suregreen porous paver. This sits on the sub layer and its honeycombed construction means grass roots can securely establish themselves from cell to cell to provide a strong base.
Alternatively, if gravel is preferred it is contained securely within each cell instead of being dispersed as car and other vehicle wheels pass over it.