In this article, Beth takes us through the common issues we encounter with clients and fencing – this is becoming a more common issue which very few people are aware of.

Until the past few months in my planning-based career, I would not have thought twice about planning requirements of erecting or replacing a fence, gates or wall. However, I have quickly come to realise that there are in fact some planning requirements for replacing fences and gates that are actually relatively restrictive and very often overlooked considering the definition of development. *NB – Hedges are NOT included in this and do not require planning permission for creation of new hedges.

Panic not though, as many property owners do have some rights for some elements of fencing and gates to be upgraded or replaced as a result of provisions within the General Permitted Development Order (we are assuming you are not within an area where such rights have been restricted or, for example, a listed building).  The basic criteria for these rights are:

  • The fence/wall/gate to be replaced, if next to a highway, will be no taller than any existing fence/wall/gate (from ground level);
  • If the fence/wall/gate is new, it must not exceed 1m in height (from ground level) if next to the highway;
  • If the fence/wall/gate is located away from the highway frontage, it must be no taller than 2m or the existing fencing heights.

In very broad terms this generally means that if you are putting a fence, wall or gates up adjacent to the highway, if replacing them they must be no taller than the existing (but be aware as to what is there already and whether this is legal to start with) and if it is a new fence/wall/gate, must be no taller than 1m in height.  If putting a fence, wall or gate up internally, no taller than 2m or the existing that is being replaced.

The main restriction of these rights is fencing and gates on boundaries adjacent to highways. Often, people will assume that due to safety and security it is acceptable to replace a fence or gate with something more substantial (i.e. taller, of more solid construction). However, we have recently seen examples of this being challenged by Councils who are querying and serving planning contravention notices/enforcement notices, due to the lack of planning permission for changes made to fencing and gates on highways boundaries.  This is most seen with new security gates.  These are often genuine mistakes by the landowners as it is not something you would expect to require planning permission, but this does not change the planning permission.

A further issue with this is that often, Local Planning Authorities have little policy or guidance on fencing and gates and what might be considered appropriate. Applications of a similar nature may be useful to see how Councils have considered these, but, applications are generally few and far between due to the often-unknown requirement for permission for such works which are only picked up (generally) if reported or noted by enforcement (for example due to other applications on the same site).

The most common things to consider, if your boundary treatments do need planning permission, is character and appearance of the area.  If the site is in Green Belt, where development is controlled except within defined exception, it is also worth noting that a fence is technically classified as a building so is classed as inappropriate development which can make approval more complex to approach.  There are also further considerations as to what constitutes a highway (be aware of public rights of way!) as well as case law regarding the meaning of the word “adjacent” and general means of enclosure.

This is where it is helpful for you to enlist the help of a planning consultant to assist with assessment of whether a new or replacement fence/wall/gate is suitable, or whether it requires planning permission.

If you have a situation where you are unsure if the new or replacement fence/wall/gates you are replacing requires planning permission, do get in touch either via a free 15-minute mini-chat here or getting in touch via the methods noted on the contact page.