Driveways, Drainage & Planning – All You Need to Know

The Legislation

On 1st October 2008 new rules apply for householders wanting to pave over their front gardens.This legislation states that driveways must have adequate drainage if there is any possibility water is able to run onto public paths or highways.

However, You will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border or to a purpose built soakaway.

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 provide a drainage solution (as per above options) for the water to run to a permeable area.
While many approved landscaping companies who install to British standards factor in this cost and advise on drainage, many companies do not advise their customers it is a necessity and ignore the legislation altogether. This means the company is able to quote a project for a much lower cost than companies who do factor in this requirement – as drainage significantly increases the price of a project.
Many customers are enticed into going with a company who have quoted a lot less for a similar job. Unfortunately these home-owners have not been advised that if the council find out the property does not have adequate drainage, they will be the people footing the bill to put it right – which may mean finding another landscaping company to fix the problem.

So Why this Legislation?

So why can homeowners not pave can over their front gardens as they wish anymore? It all stems from the serious flooding in 2007 that affected the UK.

In many cases the flooding happened because drains could not cope with the amount of rain water flowing to them. Climate change can also be attributed based on the heavier rainfalls we now experience and the drains are unable to cope.

Paving over front gardens to create driveway parking adds to the existing problem. The government say, “Although paving over one or two gardens may not seem to make a difference, the combined effect of lots of people in a street or area doing this can increase the risk of flooding. The harm caused by paving gardens is not limited to just flooding. Hard surfaces such as concrete and asphalt collect pollution (oil, petrol, brake dust etc.) that is washed off into the drains. Many drains carry rainwater directly to streams or rivers where the pollution damages wildlife and the wider environment.”

By adding parking areas and replacing grassed areas with concrete and asphalt means that the water does not soak into the ground. Hence if you are having your front garden made into a parking area you do need to be aware of having a drainage solution – see below.

How we can help?

We are able to assist you with the planning process by providing drawings of existing driveway to put forward into planning applications as well as drawings of the proposed driveway. We can also advise on the best surface and drainage requirements for your driveway.

We are SUDs trained.

Have a look at our driveways here (link to driveways gallery) to see examples of shingle and paved driveways all compliant with the current legislation.

Companies who install to British standards should offer a range of drainage options. These include but are not limited to:

  • Permeable paving solutions
  • SUDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems)
  • Soakaways
  • Natural drainage (allowing water to simply run off into lawns or flowerbeds)

Our advice?

Be wary of any company who do not mention or advise on drainage requirements for your driveway project. Before agreeing to any work, make sure the additional drainage costs are stated in the quotation, ensuring you will not be liable to pay if the council decide drainage should have been installed. At the end of the day, the home-owners pay the price and rogue paving companies get off lightly!

As always make sure all quotations are in writing, ask questions about drainage requirements, ask for samples of products before agreeing to a solution and keep in mind that it is worth paying once and to get the best it is not the cheapest option, but it will save you money in the long term.

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