Homes & Gardens

Driveways & Planning Permission: Your Complete Guide

Driveways are becoming more and more sought after in recent years, they are so much more convenient than street parking, after all, and they can also add value to your property.

Transforming your front garden into a driveway usually requires planning permission; failing to secure this can lead to fines or even being forced to undo all of the work you have done.

If you are thinking about installing your own driveway, then read on to learn more.

Do You Always Need Planning Permission?

In short, the answer is no. You will not always need planning permission in order to install a driveway on your property. Whether or not you do will depend on a few different factors.

If the driveway is linked to a new build project that has yet to get underway, then it will be listed on the planning application as the ‘access’ for the property.

If you want to install a driveway on your existing dwelling, then you might not need planning permission because you could have what is known as permitted development rights.

This is something that you will need to check because there may be instances when this doesn’t apply, in which case you would need planning permission.

Permitted Development Rights

Permitted development rights are a government scheme which was designed to allow homeowners to renovate or extend their homes without the need to secure planning permission. There are a few instances when they don’t apply though.

Firstly, they do not apply to maisonettes or flats, and they also do not apply to homes which were converted from other forms of property like commercial properties.

In some instances, you might also find that permitted development rights were removed either as a condition of consent for other planning permission applications or they might have been removed for all of the homes in a local area. If this is the case, then you will need to apply for planning permission.

You will also need to apply for listed building consent if you live in a listed building because the property is protected.

When Won’t You Need Planning Permission?

If you have a front garden and you are planning to turn part of it into a driveway, then, as long as the space is less than five square meters, you will not need planning permission. Of course, this does depend on the size of your front garden and what you want to achieve.

For example, you could simply install two paved tracks for the wheels of the vehicle, and this is likely to be within the permitted surface area allowed.

If you wanted a bigger driveway or you wanted to make the entire front garden uniform in material, then you could still avoid the need to apply for planning permission if you were to lay a permeable surface down.

This means using materials like gravel, asphalt or block paving, all of which can be found at businesses like Projects Paving. You will be expected to come up with a solution for rainwater that allows it to drain off, perhaps into a surrounding flowerbed or lawn.

However, you will also need to think about how you are going to access the driveway. For the most part, this will mean having to drive over the pavement in order to reach the driveway at the front of your property.

Depending on the height of the pavement, this might be totally fine and cause you no issues, or you might need to think about paying to have the kerb lowered. Lowering the kerb usually requires some form of planning permission or licence that you will need to acquire from the local council.

Widening an Existing Driveway

If you already do have a driveway that stands between the road and the principal elevation of your home, but you want to widen it, then you need to apply for planning permission.

Although this again does hinge on the size of the proposed work, if it comes in under the five square meter allocation, then you don’t need planning permission, but if it is over this size or if you are planning to use an impermeable material that doesn’t allow water runoff then you will need to apply.

If the proposed work area is not on your front garden or between the road and the principal elevation, then there aren’t likely to be any restrictions on the type of material that you have to use without planning permission.

It might be worth meeting with a planning consultant to discuss this if you aren’t sure or if the conditions would cause an issue, for example, if you live on a bend or your house is not oriented properly in relation to the road. They can advise you on the best course of action.

Applying for Planning Permission

The process is actually pretty straightforward as long as the driveway plans meet the necessary criteria. If you are applying for a driveway that will be connected to your home, then you will need to fill out the householder application form. This means paying the necessary fees, which are usually a couple of hundred pounds to the local planning authority upon submission of your application.

You will obviously also need to pay the charges for a consultant if you have used one to prepare the application. Remember to factor in these charges when coming up with your budget. If you want to fill out the form yourself, then you are likely to find advice listed on your local authority’s website.

You are unlikely to receive a visit from the council, they don’t tend to need to do a site visit in order to approve the application, but this is not always the case. On average, it tends to take a couple of months to hear back, although some areas do have a backlog, and it can take a lot longer if this is the case.

Again, it is worth thinking about this when you begin the process, build these considerations into your time frame. The work will likely only take a few days, but the application process can cause delays.

Building Your Own Home& Driveway

If you are building your own home and you want to incorporate a driveway, things can get a little more confusing. If it is on land that already houses properties, then you could share some of the access points or part of the existing driveway, meaning that you only need to build a portion of your own.

If there is not an access point available, then you will need to start from scratch and include all of this in your planning permission application. You will need to specify the layout that you desire as well as the materials that you plan to use. You will also need to remember to include drainage considerations and visibility splays.

The Bottom Line

Working out whether or not you need planning permission comes down on a case-by-case basis. Some people will need to apply, and others won’t.

Be sure to do the necessary research to ascertain whether you have permitted development rights, as well as work out whether or not your planned driveway will fit within the necessary criteria to move forward without planning permission.

Otherwise, the process itself is relatively straightforward, although, while it can be done yourself, it often makes sense to work with a consultant.

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