What you need to know about turning your front garden into a drive

May 1, 2022 | Driveways

Parking can be a nightmare in some residential areas, with cars squeezing into the smallest of spaces. As a response, some homeowners without garages have taken the opportunity to replace their unused front garden with a parking area, providing them off-road parking directly outside their front door.

A great solution if you have a large front garden which you don’t need or want.

However, you can’t just pave over your front garden anymore. There are restrictions in place that you need to be aware of to make sure that you’re complying with the law. You don’t want to end up with a fine for £100s or £1,000s!

Most urban areas aren’t built for water heavy rainfall and, with the effects of Climate Change, the UK has experienced flooding in the past that has resulted in loss of life, property damage and major disruptions to people’s lives.

As a result, restrictions have been put in place to help reduce issues in the future. Essentially, water needs to be able to drain away safely and this is important when considering paving your front garden as this large an area can cause water drainage issues if not properly addressed.

What materials can you use to pave your garden? 

In 2008 the government introduced changes to the General Permitted Development Order in regards to permitted developments of front gardens. The changes mean that if you want to pave over more than 5 square metres of front gardens you can do so if the surface is permeable.

Permeable surface includes gravel, concrete block paving, and porous asphalt, or a mainly green, vegetated area. Some people use wheel tracks or ribbon design driveways as well.

You would require planning permission if you wanted to utilise an impermeable substance, such as concrete. If the rainfall is routed to a grassy area or boundary to drain naturally, there are alternative choices. To ensure that you are abiding with the law, you should investigate this further.

What are the benefits – other than ease of parking?

One of the major attractions of having a paved driveway is that it can add value to your property. It has been suggested by property experts that it can increase your homes’ value by 10 per cent. A hefty sum if you’re looking at ways to increase the return on investment and saleability of your home.

Don’t forget you’ll need a dropped kerb too!

Unfortunately, you aren’t allowed to regularly drive over a kerb to access your newly paved off-road parking area. You have to apply for a licence from your local Authority in order to get one. That formation will need to conform to certain requirements as well, including width, “splay” (the angles and tapers outward so as not to cause tripping risks on the pavements), and the method of “hardening” that crossing over the footway to accept the weight of vehicles.

The kerb must allow easy access onto the property via a drop kerb – if you don’t have one in this instance, you’re breaking the law and will be fined. You will be personally liable for any damage to the kerb or pavement, any injury to pedestrians that may occur as well as any damage caused to utility supply lines. So, it can be costly if you don’t get one.

In order to have a dropped kerb put in place you need to apply for a licence from your local highway authority or council. Other permissions may also be needed depending on the property and location as well.

You will need to have a specialist in place before your application as they may need to be consulted or provided measurements for the council to give you the go-ahead.

Be aware though, your application may be rejected, so do your research first to see if any of the standard reasons apply to your circumstances, such as being too close to a junction or bus stops.

Les Long FRICS FISVA Principal, Eyesurvey

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