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If you’ve had your eye on a new driveway for a while, you’ve probably been wondering whether you need planning permission before you begin the makeover. The short answer is: it depends on a number of factors. Mainly, whether the material you choose for your new driveway is permeable or non-permeable.

If you are hoping to build your new driveaway using non-permeable materials such as slate then you are required to request planning permission. You also need permission if you will be installing a hardstanding of more than 5 square metres. These new regulations were introduced in 2008 and were aiming to reduce flooding caused by many people turning their front garden into a driveaway. This increased the amount of water going into the storm drain when it rained and therefore increased flooding. This occurs when non-permeable materials are used as water cannot drain into the ground. Hard surfaces created by using non-permeable materials increase water runoff by up to 50%, explaining how they can cause a large increase in flooding.

Regulations introduced in 2008 not only wanted to reduce flooding but also reduce the amount of non-permeable new driveways created altogether. This was due to the negative effect these driveways can have on the ecosystem. Environments necessary for insects and grubs to survive which are then eaten by birds and small animals are destroyed by non-permeable driveways. Therefore, fewer conversions from the garden to the driveway (but especially non-permeable driveways) is in everyone’s best interests.

By using permeable or semi-permeable materials for your new driveway, water is able to drain through, so you do not contribute to flooding and you do not need to request planning permission. The council recognises gravel, permeable block pavement, porous concrete and asphalt as acceptable permeable materials for a new driveway. The council also states that if your driveaway directs water to a border, lawn or some form of natural drain then you do not need to apply for planning permission in this circumstance either.

However, if when planning your new driveaway you discover that it will cross the pavement outside of your home then you do need to request planning permission. In this instance, you need to contact the highway department of your local council. It is likely that they will request for you to lower the kerb outside your house so that it is not damaged when driving your vehicle over it. It is especially important you contact the council before making any changes to this area in case the kerb needs strengthening to protect anything underneath the ground such as water pipes which could become damaged.

Please note that information provided here applies only to houses and therefore cannot be applied to other buildings and residences such as flats, houses where they may be a planning condition and others. Also, these regulations only concern front gardens, there are other regulations regarding planning permission for fences, walls, a driveaway not on the front garden and dropped kerbs.

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