Little-known gardening mistake could land you with £20,000 fine, expert warns

By Staff

With spring finally on its way, you might be thinking of making some home improvements to your garden – but beware, there are strict guidelines in place and ignoring them could be a costly mistake

An expert has warned gardeners to be wary as seemingly innocent DIY jobs could land you with a hefrty fine.

With signs that spring is finally on the way, many of us are turning our attention to gardens and outdoor spaces, getting them spruced up ready for the warmer months.

Along with pruning, planting and potting out, homeowners might also decide to give their garden a mini makeover, perhaps laying a new decking, patio or paving. But there are rules everyone needs to know about before work gets underway.

Sean Bunyan, who is in charge of commercial operations at home improvement specialists Eurocell, has explained how to spruce up your garden while staying on the right side of the law – and avoiding fines of up to £20,000.

He told Devon Live it’s important to understand the rules around Permitted Development (PD) – the term in UK planning law that lets homeowners do certain types of home and garden design work without needing planning permission.

There are strict guidelines that come with PD, including how tall something can be, how much space it can take up, how close it can be to your neighbours, and more. Here’s what you need to know…


Did you know that hedges are part of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003? As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to keep your hedges neat. If a neighbour complains about your tall hedge to the local authority and it’s found to be causing problems, you could get a formal notice and a fine of up to £1,000.


When putting up fencing, remember there are legal height limits. The tallest your fence can be is two metres or 6ft 6ins. If you want a taller fence, you’ll need to get planning permission first.

There are some exceptions to the rule, for example, if your new fence is facing a road, path, or public bridleway. If it’s over one metre tall, you’ll need planning permission.

You’ll also need this if you live in a conservation area or a listed building. Not getting planning permission could lead to a fine of £20,000 or more.

Decking height rules

Putting up decking has become a big garden trend, but there are still strict rules to follow when setting up your new seating area. The rules state that any decking that is 30cm or more off the ground needs planning permission.

The same applies if you plan to put up decking that takes up 50 percent or more of your total outdoor space, whether that’s in the front or back garden. There are also rules about how far apart railings or balustrades can be, like not letting a sphere of 100mm pass through the gaps between them, or that the balustrade must be at least 900mm high if there is a drop of 600mm or more.

If you don’t get the right planning permission from the council, you could end up with a big fine, or a notice telling you to take down or change the size of your new deck. If you don’t follow building rules, you can be fined starting at £50 a day, although the fine can go up depending on whether you live in a protected area and how much work you’ve done.

Changing the height of your garden

If you’re a keen gardener or love designing outdoor spaces, you might think about changing the level of your garden, perhaps to give you more room, or let in more sunshine.

But it’s not a case of just getting a digger in. Changing your garden’s landscape could affect walls, drains, pipes or even your neighbour’s land and so you must always check with your local planning office before you do anything. They’ll often do checks to make sure your work won’t cause flooding or harm local wildlife.

Building a shed or garden room

Garden rooms can be a brilliant way to get more indoor space outside. In most cases, you don’t need any planning permission for ready-made garden rooms because they are already made to fit building rules and height limits.

If the building is less than 2.4 metres tall and is one metre away from any boundaries, you probably don’t need planning permission.

However, there can be exceptions to this rule, for example, if you want to add a garden room in front of your house, build in a conservation area or put a garden room on a listed building’s property. It’s always best to check if you need planning permission before buying a garden room or shed.

If you build without getting the right permissions and later find out you need them, you can ask for approval after the fact. But, the planning officer might ask you to change your plans, even if you’ve already finished building, which could prove expensive. And, if you don’t follow an enforcement notice, you could get into trouble with the law.

Making new space for parking

Parking can be a problem in residential areas. So, you might think about turning any extra garden space into a private parking spot for your car. But there are things to consider. You must have a dropped kerb in place before you can create a driveway. If you don’t, you’ll need to apply for one, which can be costly.

The average cost of dropping a kerb is between £1,500 and £3,000, with the licence alone costing around £300. You might also need a planning consultant, costing a few hundred pounds more. Add to that, additional labour and fees, and it can be an expensive project.

Expert Sean said: “While it might seem unreasonable to find yourself liable to pay a fine for improving your own garden space, rules around planning permission are in place for a reason. Nobody wants to be spoiling things for their neighbours, or undertaking risky projects that could cause longer-term issues down the road.

“That being said, it is perfectly possible to undertake major gardening projects that don’t require planning permission. Many garden rooms are built to conform to Permitted Development, and for many people, installing a composite deck below 30cm is no issue at all. Landscaping work can also be undertaken without having any major impact on the rest of the garden or requiring planning permission.

“Regardless of the project being undertaken, it’s important for people to do their research before they commit to starting any work. That way, people can avoid being hit by a hefty fine, or having a visit from the planning officer.”

Do you have a story to sell? Get in touch with us at [email protected]

Five tips to find the best Amazon deals as Spring Deal Days sale starts soon

Share This Article
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *