Question: Parking has become very difficult in our street so we would like to build a driveway on our front garden. However, we live in a conservation area — so would this be allowed? If it is possible to go ahead with it, are there any other factors we should consider?
Answer: You will most likely need to build a vehicle crossover — ie a dropped kerb — so that your car can be driven safely from the road across the pavement and on to your driveway.
If you live on anything other than a private road, you will have to apply for permission to do this from your local council, and the council will have to come and build it for you.
Expect to pay £1,000 to £1,400 and remember that permission is not automatic. The council will only agree if planners are convinced that you can enter and leave the driveway safely, and if you are on a busy road or opposite a bus stop, or your house is sited so that visibility to oncoming traffic or pedestrians is obscured by bushes, walls or a bend in the road, you’ll have a job on your hands.
You will also need to show that your front garden is big enough to accommodate a standard vehicle (minimum 2.4 metres by 4.8 metres) without it overhanging the pavement.
Once you have obtained permission for your crossover — or after your council has confirmed such permission isn’t necessary — you can convert your front garden into a driveway under permitted development rules, subject to certain conditions.
You will need planning permission if your council has made an Article 4 direction removing some or all permitted development rights from your property. Assuming no Article 4 directions exist, you must construct the driveway using porous materials such as gravel, permeable block paving, porous asphalt or concrete to ensure rainwater soaks away into the ground rather than running into the street.
Without this, water will collect on the surface and could contribute to urban flooding, including to any nearby basements, and even cause structural problems to your own property.
The Royal Horticultural Society recommends retaining a green driveway surface by planting species of creeping Jenny, bugle and thyme which can tolerate being parked over.
You may also need to demolish a portion of your front garden wall, fence or railing, to provide enough width for your car to enter. In a conservation area you can demolish a front boundary wall without planning permission if it is no more than a metre high.
Should you need to remove any trees, you must notify your council, but I would advise against removing too many flowers or shrubs. A recent Barclays survey found most house hunters typically try to knock 10-20 per cent off the asking price if a property lacks kerb appeal, so it makes sense to keep your front garden as green and pleasant as possible, while keeping any hard landscaping to a minimum.
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