Looking to enhance your garden hardscape by installing a new decking and not sure about planning permission rules?

We totally don’t blame you for wanting to revamp your recreational green area! A relatively new landscape design concept in the UK, a decking adds to the aesthetic look of your garden space by creating a welcoming feel and modern appeal. Also, without a doubt, it offers functionality in terms of extending your living space outdoors.

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With this post, we’ll explore the current legislation in the UK, whether you need planning permission for decking or not, and if yes – in what circumstances.

But first, let’s give our thumbs up for this easy-to-build attractive garden feature by summing up why now Brits are buying into the idea of having one.

The benefits of decking are:

  • It naturally links your home to your exterior space
  • Lends flexibility to its design and size
  • It’s easy to remodel, extend and maintain
  • You don’t need planning permission with a few exceptions
  • Tackles perfectly issues with uneven landscapes
  • Increases your property value
  • Disguises unattractive outdoor utility fixtures
  • Minimises the need for ground preparation
  • Provides comfort, aesthetic look and sophistication

If you’ve been sitting on the fence for a while, surely, you’re convinced now of its advantages, right? Then, read on and learn about the rules that apply to building a decking.

Do I need to apply for planning permission to build a deck?

Good news! In most cases, you are not required by law to get planning permission for decking. Effectively from 1st October 2008, as a property owner, you are exempt from needing to apply for permission to install a timber decking structure in your garden, be it a stand-alone fixture or a natural and handy extension of your interior floor surface.

However, your permitted development rights for a decking installation change instantly, if:

  • The decking platform stands higher than 30 cm above the ground
  • The decking structure, together with other outdoor buildings, sheds and extensions, covers an area, which is larger than 50% of the total garden space.
  • If the deck affects negatively the value of your neighbours’ properties or disturbs their privacy.

In these cases, you must submit an application for planning permission with your local authority, in order to install your decking.

Related Article: All about composite decking – maintenance, clearance, FAQs

What if my decking is too high or too large?

A raised decking is the ideal opportunity to resolve undesirable characteristics of your natural garden landscape. From hard-to-fix subsidence problems, a sloping or undulating terrain to a generally uneven ground, a decking installation will provide you with a nice, flat and neat surface for relaxation or it will help you fulfil your outdoor entertainment needs.

Furthermore, a split-level deck or an elevated veranda-style timber structure on perfectly level ground will create a trendy looking terraced garden that offers depth, a different perspective and versatile functionality.

The above decking design ideas, however, may land you in trouble if the timber platform exceeds the legal requirements for size and height.

Therefore, what you need to do if your decking is too high (or large) is to get the right planning permission.

How to apply for planning permission

If you are required to obtain planning permission for decking, you’ll need to apply with your local planning office.

You should fill the online application form at the official planning portal, created by the UK government for this purpose. Note that you should apply for a permit even if you intend to rework or replace an existing decking structure that is too high or exceeds 50% of your garden area.

Consider informing your neighbours

Also, an important consideration to think about is informing the neighbours of your intentions. If your application is backed by your neighbours’ permission, you’ll increase your chances of approval. It’s rather common for homeowners to get a refusal of their garden decking planning application, due to a neighbour’s objection to the new garden hardscape feature.

Moreover, the law says that you must gain planning permission for your decking if the structure is likely to decrease the value of your neighbour’s property or disturb their privacy.
In other words, it won’t hurt if you show respect for the homeowner next door and let them know about your plans.

When do you need building regulations approval?

Finally, if your decking poses risks for the safety of people when using it, then, you may need to consider applying for a Building Regulations Approval by filling the online building control application form at the same portal, mentioned above. As you can imagine, the higher the structure, the more safety issues it entails. Hence, a specialist should assess all possible risks of falls and injuries and ensure that provisions for installing safety features (railings and stairs) are made.

Related Article: How Soon After Pressure Washing My Deck Can I Stain It?

At what height does decking need a balustrade?

As we’ve mentioned above, any safety features, such as stairs, balustrades or structural elements that support your decking, if it is above a certain height, must meet Building Regulations in the UK. In that sense, you should always rely on the expertise of a certified specialist to design and install a balustrade for you. The professional will know exactly how high the safety barrier should be, based on the height of the actual decking.

Check below at what height your decking needs a balustrade:

  • Install a 3ft-high balustrade on a deck that doesn’t exceed 2ft in height;
  • Higher deckings that stand over 2ft high require a railing that is minimum 4ft high.
tip

If your decking is only slightly raised or even sits on the same level as the ground, you can still fit a decorative barrier that could act as a child-deterrent, safety feature, if needs be.

How to know if my permitted development rights have been removed?

There are various other circumstances, which remove your permitted development rights. This means that you must apply for planning permission for your decking if:

  • If your property has undergone a conversion or change of use
  • You own a flat or a maisonette
  • Your property falls under the Article 4 Direction, which affects listed buildings, national heritage and conservation areas, other designated areas, and in some cases when a change of use of
  • buildings will have some impact in a specific area
  • If the decking is in close proximity to a highway (within 20 metres)
  • If your decking has structural elements that are higher than 3 metres
  • If your property is not a house but another type of building
  • If there are any other specific types of planning conditions or restrictions that apply to your local area

We hope, now, that you understand when your decking may fall outside your permitted development rights and when you can go ahead safely with your new decking design project without a special planning approval.

What if I want to build a timber deck? Are there specific guidelines?

To stay safe and conform with all relevant regulations, you can check out the technical guidance on the type of timber you can use for your new decking structure, released by the National House Building Council in the UK. Another useful document is the code of practice for raised timber deck structures on new homes, issued by TDCA (The Timber Decking and Cladding Association). Both guides focus on newly built properties, but anyone, who intends to install a deck on their existing property, will find them helpful.

The same organisation has also published a professionals’ manual for building and installing timber decks that you can benefit from, as well. All the above will be of help even you are using composite materials for your structure, instead of timber, with regards to design matters and safety standards.

Still, we always recommend that you double check with your local authority if you need to get planning permission before you start any building work. And if you feel apprehensive about your DIY carpentry and landscaping skills, why not contact the Fantastic decking installation and repair specialists and save yourself a headache?

Learn what decking solutions we offer by visiting our main website.

Learn more

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Did you find this article of any help? Yes? Then, please, share it on our social channels! Or maybe you have other questions on planning permission for decking? Feel free to ask in the comments box below.

Image credit: Shutterstock / By Jamie Hooper 

  • Last update: May 29, 2019

Posted in Garden Regulations

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