The paving over of front gardens for driveways, particularly in densely populated urban areas, has been a source of growing concern for some time, and the government acted at the beginning of October 2008 to introduce new regulations in England.
Flooding and Other Environmental Problems
The problem is three-fold, and all the issues relate to Environmental Concerns. The removal of front gardens and their replacement with flat, hard surfaces increases water run-off when it rains. This water goes into the drain system which wasn’t designed to cope with all that extra water, and so flooding is made worse.
The second issue is that these hard surfaces soak up heat during the day and then release it into the surrounding environment at night. This contributes to the overall warming of the environment, which is thought to be at least partly responsible for the increase in cloud cover in the UK and the recent heavy storms.
Finally, the paving over of front gardens is a blow to wildlife and bio-diversity. Insects and other small organisms lose their environment, so there’s less food for mammals and birds. In addition, spillages of petrol, diesel and other contaminants go straight into the drains and end up poisoning streams and rivers.
New Front Garden Driveway Regulations
Those new regulations remove the necessity to apply for planning permission to pave over a front garden as long as the surface is permeable. The intention is therefore to encourage permeable driveway surfaces, not prohibit them completely.
If someone does want to put a non-permeable driveway surface down, they will have to apply for planning permission. At this point the planners can ensure that adequate provision is made to allow for drainage, such as a soakaway or a drainage duct leading to a sewer outlet rather than a drain in a street. Or, of course, they could refuse planning permission and insist on a permeable surface.
Cost of Permeable Driveway Surfaces
To be fair, there’s no real reason why anyone shouldn’t put a permeable driveway surface in when paving over a front driveway. The cost won’t be much greater than a properly laid paved driveway, and for a small space like a front garden the differential will be even less.
The only common driveway surface that would be cheaper is concrete and there are many other reasons for avoiding a concrete drive than the environmental concerns.
Get Permission to Drop the Kerb
The other aspect of paving over a front garden is the dropping of the kerb. Many people who install a driveway where there was previously a garden don’t bother to drop the kerb. Very quickly this leads to loosening or breakage of the kerb stones or paving slabs.
It’s also not enough to drop the kerb yourself without telling anyone. Local authorities are responsible for roads and pavements, so they must oversee kerb dropping operations. Pavements may need strengthening to protect water supplies and other pipework that may be under the paving surface.
Permeable Driveway Options
To find out what constitutes a permeable driveway surface take a look at our article in this section: What Counts as a Permeable Driveway Surface?