Paving over front gardens

The drains in most urban areas were built many years ago and were not designed to cope with increased rainfall. Paving front gardens further adds to the problem as rainfall is not soaked into the ground but discharges into the surrounding drainage system. 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. In older areas the rainwater may go into the foul water sewer which normally takes household waste from bathrooms and kitchens to the sewage treatment works. On occasions, these can overflow into streams and rivers in heavy rainfall. As more water runs into foul sewers from paved areas there are more frequent overflows, passing untreated sewage into watercourses.

Is planning permission required for new or replacement driveways? 

Planning permission is not required for a new or replacement driveway of any size if it uses permeable (or porous) surfacing such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally. 

The government's Guidance on the permeable surfacing of front gardens (PDF) explains the different type of permeable surfaces available and contains guidance on the design and construction of permeable driveways. 

If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres, planning permission will be required for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not provide for the water to run to a permeable area. This is in order to reduce the impact of this type of development on flooding and on pollution of watercourses.

Please note that these permitted development rights do not apply to flats, maisonettes or houses that have been created through change of use permitted development rights.  

Application form 

Apply for householder planning permission online