Planning Regulations & your Garden. 

Walls, fences, hedges, trees, swimming pools, garden ponds, gates driveways, patios, sheds, summer houses, tennis courts, greenhouses, dog kennels.

 Where do you stand? You may be surprised - especially if you own a flat!

Fences walls, trees, hedges & gates

Planning permission is required if..............

The section below is the latest rendering of the Planning Act - October 2009. We have simply copied it at the moment, but we will translate it into everyday English - with examples -  as soon as possible.

Permitted development

Class E
The provision within the curtilage of the dwelling house of —

  • (a) -  any building or enclosure, swimming or other pool required for a
    purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house as such, or
    the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of such a building or
    enclosure; or
    (b) - a container used for domestic heating purposes for the storage of
    oil or liquid petroleum gas.

Development not permitted

Class E.1 Development is not permitted by Class E if —

  • (a) - the total area of ground covered by buildings, enclosures and containers within the curtilage (other than the original dwellinghouse) would exceed 50% of the total area of the curtilage (excluding the ground area of the original dwellinghouse);
  • (b) - any part of the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated on land forward of a wall forming the principal elevation of the original dwellinghouse;
  • (c) - the building would have more than one storey;
    • (d) - the height of the building, enclosure or container would exceed—(i)4 metres in the case of a building with a dual-pitched roof,
    • (ii) - 2.5 metres in the case of a building, enclosure or container within 2 metres of the boundary of the curtilage of the dwellinghouse, or (iii)3 metres in any other case;
  • (e) - the height of the eaves of the building would exceed 2.5 metres;
  • (f) - the building, enclosure, pool or container would be situated within the curtilage of a listed building;
  • (g) - it would include the construction or provision of a veranda, balcony or raised platform;
  • (h) - it relates to a dwelling or a microwave antenna; or (i)  - the capacity of the container would exceed 3,500 litres.

For Revision

  • Your House is a listed building.
  • If the fence, wall or gate, is next to a highway used for vehicles (a footpath is part of the highway)  - over 1m height requires permission.
  • Where it is not next to a highway, any fence gate or wall over 2m will require permission.
  • Hedges or trees - to whatever height - do not require planning permission! (Even if they are next to a highway.) You will need to check that there were or are no restrictions on your property though: such as those that apply to 'open plan' estates.
  • There are restrictions however under the 1980 highways act >>>>>
  • Highways act 1980 - summary
  • Section 136. The Highways Authority may request a court order for pruning, if the highway is being damaged by the exclusion of the sun due to a hedge or tree.
    Section 138. It is an offence to plant a hedge without the Highways Authorities permission.
    Section 141. It is an offence to plant a tree within 15ft of the centre of the carriageway. This is subject to S64, S96 and S142.
    Section 142. The Highways Authority may grant a license to a member of the public allowing them to plant and maintain vegetation near the highway.
    Section 154. The Highways Authority may serve a notice requiring the pruning of vegetation which obstructs the passage of vehicles, the view of drivers, the light from a street lamp, etc to be cut. This section also covers the ordering of the removal of dangerous trees which may threaten the users of the road. The work should be carried out within 14 days.

Patios & Driveways & Garden Buildings/Structures

If you live in a house! (There are different rules for flats and maisonettes)

  • If you live in a house, there are no planning restrictions for any size area of patio or other hard standing - providing that it is for 'domestic' purposes - for the rear garden. You can concrete the whole lot over if you want.
  • However, if you build a new driveway which will cross a pavement or verge, then you will need the permission of your council's Highways Department.
  • From 1 October 2008 there are new rules for householders if you want to pave over your front gardens.
    You will NOT need planning permission if a new driveway uses or porous surfacing which allows water to drain through. This will include surfacing such as gravel, shingle, permeable concrete, block paving or porous asphalt. Also if the rainwater is directed to a nearby lawn or border to drain naturally. HOWEVER - If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not control rainwater running off onto roads.
  • You will also need Highways Dept.  permission and possibly planning permission if you wish to make a new or wider access onto a trunk or other classified road.
  • You do not need Planning Permission for a garden shed or summer house **
  • or a swimming pool **
  • or tennis courts **
  • or greenhouse **
  • or sauna cabin **
  • or dog's kennel or other animal enclosure! **
  • or a garden pond **
  • You will need permission for a domestic oil storage tank - or other such container - if the capacity is more than 3,500L. or if it is more than 3m high.


(**Restrictions to the above)

  1. A building or other structure must not be nearer to any highway, than the nearest part of the 'house'. (Unless the 'structure' is more than 20m from that highway incl. bridleways, footpaths and byways.) Otherwise, a planning application is necessary. 
  2. If more than half of the area of land around the 'house' is covered by the structure, then it will require planning consent
  3. If the structure is used for any commercial use whatever - including parking a commercial vehicle - then planning consent must be obtained.
  4. If the shed or structure is more than 3.00m high (4m for a ridged roof) you will need permission.
  5. Outbuildings and garages to be single storey with maximum eaves height of 2.5 metres and maximum overall height of four metres with a dual pitched roof or three metres for any other roof.
  6. Maximum height 2.5 metres if the building is within two metres of a boundary.
  7. If the 'house is a listed property you will need planning consent.

Flats & Maisonettes (I didn't make these rules - complain to the government!)

You will need planning permission for....

  • Any garage, any garden shed, or any greenhouse!
  • Any hard standing - such as a patio!
  • Any wall or fence
  • Any other work that would materially alter the appearance of your flat or maisonette.


Consult with your neighbours before you start any work. They do have rights - even if planning permission is not required for your own particular project.  For instance, there is a legal right to light in some circumstances. There must be a moral right to light in all circumstances. Go and have a cup of coffee: Talk it over first.

The planning consent procedure can take up to 8 weeks - sometimes more!
The Planning Department of your local council will require 'an application' together with some fairly detailed plans (Oh, and a fee!) They will write to your neighbours about your application, and will also publish your application in the local press. It is always a good idea to consult with your planning department, before drawing up any plans. Local councils are usually quite helpful these days. It depends upon the individual of course. But then doesn't everything?

NB. These are guidelines based upon our interpretation of the various planning regulations. I hate to say this but, DO CONSULT A LAWYER if in any doubt!


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