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Driveways - a guide for householders

Changes to planning legislation mean that you may now need planning permission to pave over your front garden.

Hard permeable and porous driveway
The changes only relate to areas of land in front gardens (which is technically the area of land between the principal elevation of your property and a highway), where the area of paving would exceed five square metres.

In practice, you will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing, or if rainwater would be directed to a lawn or other permeable area within the front garden to drain naturally.

However, planning permission will now be required if the new or replacement driveway would be more than 5 square metres and would use impermeable (or non-porous) materials.

Aim of the legislation                                                                          

The primary aim of this legislation is to decrease the risk of flooding, as it is widely acknowledged that existing urban drainage systems are unlikely to be able to cope with increased volumes of water. The paving of front gardens has increased this problem by re-directing rainwater into the existing drainage systems. The council has also acknowledged that this legislation may help to maintain the varied appearance of many streets around the district, and may prevent inappropriate paving at rural properties.

What is a permeable surface?                                      

The council takes the stance that a permeable surface is one that allows water to soak through it to the ground below.

What are the options?

There are several methods for creating a permeable surface. These include:

Loose gravel

Any sub-base or under-fabric should be open graded (minimum of 200mm) with a surface layer of gravel or shingle. Different shapes and colours are available to make the surface more attractive. A strip of block paving or asphalt at the entrance is preferable as it would limit the loss and spread of gravel from the drive onto the highway.

Wheel tracks

Tracks of between 300mm and 600mm in width, which direct water runoff to a permeable area surfaced in gravel or planted with grass or other suitable low-growing plants. To provide a durable construction they should have an open-graded sub-base.

Reinforced grass and gravel

Plastic and concrete mesh reinforcement systems to strengthen the ground and reduce erosion.

Hard permeable and porous surfaces

Asphalt or concrete blocks, or clay or concrete block paving (which has a void between the blocks) that allow water to soak through it. It is important that any sub-base is open graded so that it would allow water to pass through or store the water for a while if it cannot soak into the ground as quick as the rain falls (and two examples of which are known as 4/20 and Type 3 sub-base).

Rain gardens

A depression to collect and store rainwater running from conventional impermeable surfaces (asphalt, concrete and block paving), before slowly allowing it to soak into the ground or to flow to the drains.


Where water is piped or directed from impermeable surfacing into a gravel-filled trench or geocellular container and allowed to soak into the ground.


Additional information

Paving your front garden - Planning Portal guidance

► Patio and driveway planing permission - Planning Portal guidance

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