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Sustainable Drainage for Driveways

Friday, December 7th, 2018

new driveway

Make Sure Your Driveway Drains Properly and Meets Planning Rules

Putting in off-street parking makes life more convenient and add to the value of your home. But make sure you think about drainage from the outset.

Towns and cities the length and breadth of the UK have street after street of homes that were built around the turn of the century. The fact that they are standing as firm now as they were 100 years ago speaks volumes for the build quality, and there is nothing quite like an older house when it comes to feelings of homeliness and character.

One of the few downsides is, of course, that these homes predate the ubiquity of the motor car. Back then, the notion of every home having one or more cars would have been as alien as the idea of us all having a helicopter parked outside seems today. Fast forward to 2018, and many of those Victorian homes have had their front gardens levelled and surfaced over for parking. If you are having to leave your car at the side of the road every night, the idea of doing a similar conversion is certain to have crossed your mind.

The price of parking

The fact that so many houses have already concreted over their front gardens to add off street parking has made the whole topic an emotive one. After all, from an ecological perspective, nobody wants to see our suburbs turned into a concrete jungle. There are also more prosaic reasons to think twice about laying that concrete slab, however.

If you use concrete, tarmac or some other non-porous material, you need to keep in mind that this will prevent rainwater and runoff from soaking into the ground. This results in more water going into storm drains, placing a drainage infrastructure that is already close to capacity under even more strain.

Planning permission – it’s all about the drainage

One of the first questions you are likely to ask when it comes to adding a driveway is whether you need planning permission. As is so often the case, the answer is “maybe.” Planning is always a delicate subject, and for every regulation, there are a dozen exceptions. Broadly speaking, however, the rules are as follows.

Planning permission is only usually required if you are installing a non-porous surface with an area of more than five square metres. In this case, the planning office will need to see that you have incorporated appropriate run offs for surface water. This is not necessarily a complex procedure. If you have garden to either side of the driveway, then simply incorporating some drainage channels into the design should be sufficient to do the trick.

Of course, incorporating sensible and sustainable drainage into your drive isn’t just about preventing you from falling foul of the planning office. If you ignore drainage considerations, your new drive can rapidly become a nightmare, trapping water and even directing it towards your house.

Exceptions to the rules

The planning guidelines given above are by no means exhaustive. If you live in a flat or maisonette, you will need planning permission regardless of the type of driveway, and the same applies for properties in conservation areas. Always check with your local planning office to be 100 percent certain of the regulations in your area before commencing any work. And when you are ready, consult with the drainage experts to be sure that you are doing it correctly.

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