What are the rules about laying a new driveway?

Ten years ago, back in 2008, the rules about laying driveways changed and anyone planning a new driveway needs to be aware of what they can and can’t do. The changes were partly motivated by serious flooding in 2007, said to have been exacerbated by non-porous driveways increasing the volume of rainwater flowing into storm drains and overwhelming the system.

The rule changes also addressed pollution concerns, because substances such as oil, petrol and brake dust wash off hard, non-permeable surfaces and flow into the drains. This causes damage to wildlife and the wider environment. Today, there are rules you need to consider when laying a new driveway.

If you’re laying a concrete or asphalt driveway over five square metres, you may need planning permission

Concrete and asphalt surfaces are not permeable, so rainwater flows into storm drains rather than absorbing water through the surface. If you want to lay this type of driveway, you’ll need to speak to your local planning office if the area you want to cover is over five square metres. To minimise the paved area so it’s under five metres, you could consider ‘wheel tracks’ where the driveway has just two paved tracks where the car wheels go. The area between and around the tracks can be surfaced in gravel or planted with grass or low growing plants. Water must drain from the tracks into the surrounding permeable area.

Standard block paving is also impermeable, however, permeable systems that allow water to drain through them are now available.

If you’re laying a permeable driveway over five square metres, you may NOT need planning permission

Water on permeable driveways soaks through the surface and into the ground. Because permeable driveways do not contribute to flood water, you may not need planning permission to lay your driveway, although it’s always sensible to check with your local planning office. You could consider a gravel driveway, or even a reinforced grass driveway, where a grassy area is strengthened so that cars can drive over it without causing ruts. Gravelrings provide a fully permeable gravel retention system for use in SuDS compliant schemes, while Grassrings provide a permanent solution for grass parking and access, whilst maintaining a permeable surface.

If you’re laying a non-permeable surface but rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally, or if it is directed to a soakaway, you may NOT need planning permission

If you’re keen to lay a non-permeable surface, you may not need to obtain planning permission if the rainwater will run off to lawns or borders to drain away naturally. An area of a garden can be formed into a depression to collect and store rainwater before it soaks into the ground. Another solution is to install a soakaway with crates wrapped in Draintex non-woven drainage geotextile fabric, which provides excellent drainage and filtration properties.

If you’re planning a driveway that crosses the pavement or verge outside your home, you may need council permission

When your new driveway is going to cross a pavement or verge in front of your home, you will need to obtain the permission of the Highways Department at the council. They will also require that the kerb be dropped to road level to allow safe and easy access. The process for doing this varies by council – some may insist on doing the work themselves. Others may require you to use approved contractors to do the work.

Other steps to take to improve drainage on your driveway

Laying a specialist geotextile membrane, such as Drivetex heavy duty driveway membrane, is an important step to ensure a stable, rut-free base layer and for maintaining sufficient falls towards the various drainage points on the drive.

The best advice when it comes to planning a new driveway is to research your options thoroughly and ensure you get the right permissions in place before you start work.

Find out more about the Growtivation Product That Works range by downloading our Product Guide and your free copy of our Landscaping That Works guide to geotextile fabrics.

Watch our ‘How to lay Drivetex’ video for step-by-step advice on getting the best results from Drivetex driveway membrane.
To find out where you can buy Growtivation products visit our online Where to Buy facility or contact the friendly team at Growtivation for advice on 0800 197 8885 or email sales@growtivation.com.