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Do New Driveways Need Planning Permission? A Comprehensive Guide

When planning a new driveway it’s important to be aware that new regulations are now in place in the UK. Find out whether new driveways need planning permission in our comprehensive guide. We also cover any other regulations or legal requirements that homeowners should be aware of before work begins.

Driveway rules UK
See whether your new driveway needs planning permission

It is important to be aware of the various rules and regulations for installing driveways.

As a homeowner, you must ensure you comply with the necessary regs so you don’t have to deal with any costly surpises or disputes later down the track. Not complying with the law can create pricey fines and expensive requests to undo the work.

As a paving contractor, your customers will be impressed with any extra advice you provide to help inform their decisions. Besides, this is likely to be the one and only time they install a new driveway, whereas it is a job you are likely to do on a regular basis. Offering advice that can stop any risky decisions and costly mistakes will always be appreciated.

Being aware of the regulations means everyone enters into the project with their eyes wide open to whether the new driveway complies with local authority requirements. 

Crucially, considering the various options during the initial stages can help to inform key decisions on design and material choice.

What are the rules for a new driveway?

Along with complying with local authority legislation, driveway installation requirements also help homeowners to maintain the safety, accessibility and aesthetic appeal of their property.

Read on to find out the main rules and considerations for contructing a new driveway and the recently introduced regulations for UK driveways.

When is planning permission required?

In many cases homeowners do not require planning permission for a new driveway, provided certain conditions are met.

Let’s look at the each of the key considerations to determine whether explicit planning consent from your local authority is needed or not.

Permeable paving and drainage rules

Following new regulations, any installation of a driveway using impermeable surfacing materials, and that is more than 5 square metres in size, will require planning permission. 

Impermeable surfacing materials is otherwise known as non-porous and includes concrete, asphalt, porcelain paving slabs, ceramic tiles, vitrified paving flags and some natural stone like granite or slate pavers. 

Impermeable surfaces account for materials that don’t naturally absorb rainfall. If you use them, you will need to ensure that any rainwater that falls on these surfaces is directed back onto your land rather than into the drainage system.

Planning permission is not usually required for installing permeable paving or permeable surfacing materials. These are materials that allow rainfall to permeate, such as with gravel, resin-bound paving or permeable paving options. 

Always remember, any permeable paving installed must also feature a fully permeable bed in order to avoid requiring planning permission. Even if the surfacing material is permeable, the bedding layer must also be the permeable for it to be compliant.

These UK driveway regulations also apply to installing hard surfacing in front gardens of over 5 square metres, even if the intended use of the area is not for parking vehicles.

You may avoid having to seek planning permission by using permeable or porous surfacing options that naturally allow rainwater to soak into the ground.

Read on to find out the options for installing permeable paving on driveways and in front gardens and how to make sure the systems are compliant with local authority requirements.

Shared driveway considerations

There’s another key question for determining whether planning permission is required. Is the driveway or paved area is likely to affect access for any other properties in the area?

You may need to seek planning permission if the driveway could cause an inconvenience to neighbours.

Properties in conservation areas

Planning permission may also be required if the property is in a special designated area conservation area and you are planning to convert a significant portion of the front garden.

You may also need planning permission if the property is listed. Regulations for listed properties are quite strict. Please do check with the local authority to get a clear outline of what you can and can’t do.

If you are ever unsure whether planning permission is required for your property, contact your local planning authority for advice.

Why approvals are needed for UK driveways

Widespread development in the UK and rising heavy rainfall has meant the risk of flooding in cities and towns has drastically increased.

Permeable paving is effectively a way of managing rainwater run-off and reducing the risk of flooding in the local area.

When laid on a permeable bed, these types of porous paving materials allow rainwater run-off to naturally drain into the ground, minimising the strain on drainage systems.

There are other benefits to permeable paving aside from reducing the risk of flooding and topping up the water table.

With fully permeable systems, there will be no puddles on paving slabs during and after wet weather. This lack of standing water also limits mold, grime and moss growth on the top of pavers.

Another big bonus of using permeable grouts like Premjoint is a reduced risk of mortar cracks when temperatures drop below freezing.

What are the options for permeable paving?

Permeable paving options include: 

  • Gravel driveways or decorative aggregates
  • Resin-bound paving
  • Porous asphalt
  • Concrete block permeable paving
  • No-fines concrete (a lightweight concrete)
  • Interlocking pavers
  • Some natural stones such as Indian sandstone

Each of these materials are porous in nature and will absorb rainwater into the ground below.

However, to make a driveway fully permeable and compliant with sustainable urban drainage requirements, the foundation, bedding mortar and grout (if used) must also be permeable.

Gravel driveway, UK
Permeable paving: There are many stylish alternatives to a gravel driveway

Eco-Friendly Driveway Solutions

Choosing one of the paving materials mentioned above will help you to achieve permeability.

You will also need to ensure the bedding layer is permeable and – if you are using a jointing compound – that this also allows water to infiltrate.

Permeable bedding mortar

A porous bedding layer allows water to freely drain through and can reduce the risk of stains and efflorescence.

Ultrascape’s Perma-bed is a permeable bedding mortar ideal for permeable paving and exceeds the strict standards of British Standards BS 7533.

Permeable grouts

Polymeric brush-in grouts are a popular solution for permeable jointing compounds on paved areas and driveways.

ProJoint PolySweep is one such product that offers superior strength and leaves a long-lasting joint that is safe to pressure washers, weeds and frost.

PolySweep can be used on block paving, natural stone flags and concrete paving slabs and setts. 

As the ready-made formula contains no Portland Cement, it features clear-set technology that is heralded by the manufacturer as stain free.

Before installing the paved area you will need to create a full solid bed with a permeable bedding mortar, or alternatively 1:5 of sand and cement.

Another option is Premjoint, a pre-blended, sand-based grout that can also be used for driveways. However, Premjoint will need an impermeable bedding layer installed to support the extra weight of vehicles. Unfortunately this will make the paving installation impermeable and, depending on the size of the area and other factors, could potentially mean the project needs to receive planning permission.

Alternatives to permeable paving

When planning the installation of a new driveway or front garden, you may be required to consider solutions that will not increase the pressure on local drainage systems.

If you still want to install an impermeable paved area, you could always consider one of the following options to increase your chances of the local authority giving your project the green light.

You could install:

  • Rain gardens: dipped areas planted with vegetation along the edge of the paving that allow rainwater to soak into the ground
  • An artificial soakaway to divert rainwater into purpose-built containers for gradual drainage – or even harvesting for watering the garden
  • A solid paved area for your vehicle’s wheel tracks alone, with the rest of the area staying naturally porous

Other considerations for driveways

In addition to permeable paving, there are a number of other considerations for when installing a new driveway.

Is a dropped kerb required?

If you are redesigning your garden and installing a completely new driveway, you may need to obtain permission for a vehicle crossover point from the road – otherwise known as a dropped kerb.

Installing a new dropped kerb requires approval from your local council as a section of the pavement will need to be removed and replaced with a sloping driveway entrance.

Your council may outline certain requirements for the dropped curb, mostly to ensure the safety of pedestrians and vehicles. These may include that the droped curb:

  • Is clearly visible for drivers entering and exiting the property, and pedestrians using the pavement
  • Is located a safe distance from junctions, traffic lights and pedestrian crossings
  • Features a slope gradient that ensures smooth access
  • Uses materials in line with the local council’s spec, possibly considering tactile paving for the visually impaired

Highways and nearby properties

When installing a new driveway, you should also consider any impact on the highway and neighbouring properties.

You may want to build the following considerations into your design or plan:

  • Does the driveway allow safe entry and exit, and avoid obstructing the highway or nearby properties?
  • Is the driveway well-lit to improve visibility during nighttime?
  • What measures can you put in place to protect curbs, pavements and utilities during construction?
  • Do the vehicle crossings (dropped kerbs) comply with local council requirements, and how are they to be maintained?

A final word on driveway installations

While we’ve done everything we can to make this guide to driveway planning permission comprehensive, it’s important to always speak to your local authority to see what rules are applicable to your property.

There are many options available to homeowners and landscaping contractors wanting to achieve fully permeable paving for driveways and gardens.

If you want to get some further advice on permeable bedding mortar, grout solutions or fully permeable base layers like the Vuba cellular paving grid, get in touch with our team on 0330 122 1025.

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