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an example of how high can a fence be in the uk

Before getting started on any building project in the UK, it’s important to be aware of the regulations around planning permission. When it comes to determining how high a fence can be, the key things to be aware of include the location of the fence and the existence of any planning conditions.

Read on to learn how you can build a proper garden fence whilst avoiding the need to obtain planning permission.

How high can a garden fence be without planning permission in the UK?

The planning laws in relation to gates, walls, and fences are broadly similar across the UK. In England, planning permission is not needed for fences of 2 metres in height (from ground level).

However, this 2-metre height limit and the need to obtain planning permission are dependent on a number of other conditions.

You will need to obtain planning permission if:

  • The fence is next to a highway used by vehicles and its intended height is above 1 metre;
  • any part of the fence is connected to, or within the curtilage, of a listed building;
  • any part of the fence forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its curtilage;
  • the right to put up or alter fences has previously been removed by an Article 4 Direction or planning condition.

To summarise in plain language, fences that do not border roads (usually in back gardens) can be built to a height of 2 metres without planning permission. Fences that run alongside roads can be built to a height of 1 metre without planning permission.

If you are putting up a fence within the grounds of a historically listed building or in a conservation area, it’s more than likely that you will need to get permission from your local planning authority.

Does the material used to build a fence affect planning permission?

The material used to build a fence can come under certain planning permission restrictions and conditions. Timber fencing is the most popular choice of material for garden fencing in the UK, but metal and brick are also common, and the popularity of composite fencing has been steadily increasing.

Your choice of fencing material isn’t solely about style; the decision revolves around other factors including cost, privacy, and maintenance. Whilst on the topic of cost, you might be interested in our article on the cost of fencing – it covers the average cost of popular fencing materials as well as the associated maintenance costs.

Now back to planning for a fence.

Generally, timber, composite, and metal are considered acceptable fencing materials, however, local councils or neighbours may take an interest in a fencing project when the design or appearance differs significantly from the surroundings. In planning parlance, this type of complaint is often worded along the lines of ‘having an adverse impact on the character of the area’.

To avoid a dispute with your local council or neighbours, it’s advisable to check your mortgage deeds or land registry document for information relating to a garden fence protocol. It also pays to discuss your fencing plans with neighbours before beginning any work.

a trellis fence with climbing roses shining in the sun

Does adding a trellis affect planning permission?

Adding a trellis to a fence is a great way to break up uniform or plain-looking fencing panels and improve the overall aesthetics of your garden.

The short answer to the question is yes: a trellis is considered as part of a fence’s height. So, before adding a trellis to your fence, make sure that the trellis won’t take your fence above the height limit, from ground level to the top of the trellis.

If adding a trellis means that your fence will exceed height limits, you’ll need to obtain planning permission.

What happens if a garden fence doesn’t comply with planning regulations?

No matter how pretty it looks or how much effort or cost went into building it, if your garden fence doesn’t comply with planning regulations, your local council may issue an enforcement notice.

Usually, an enforcement notice will require the offending party to completely remove the fence or make alterations that bring it back into compliance/satisfy the complainant or council.

Keep in mind that the local council has the authority to issue enforcement notices up to 4 years after the date that the fence was built.

Are there other planning considerations for fences?

Now that we’ve covered the legalities in terms of planning permission for fences, we can move on to the other planning considerations. We’re talking about the considerations you must plan for in terms of weather resistance and durability.

Wind and rot are your main adversaries here. There are multiple approaches you can take to mitigate the impact of the weather and increase the life expectancy of your fencing. As with most issues relating to structural integrity, a strong foundation is key.

When it comes to fencing, the foundations are the fence posts. These days, you’ll find garden fence posts made from timber, concrete or galvanised steel. We’ve written in detail about choosing a fence post material, including the pros and cons of each material.

There are plenty of ways you can protect your fence posts and improve the overall life expectancy of your garden fence.

  • Use a wood treatment or preserver.
  • Lining your fence posts with a Postsaver® Sleeve (a thermoplastic sleeve that’s lined with a bituminous liner that protects the timber from water and termites).
  • Adding gravel drainage – filling the fence post holes with gravel to improve drainage.

See our post on protecting fence posts from rot for detailed explanations of each of the above methods, including a video guide to lining fence posts with Postsaver® Sleeves.

Ready to build a solid fence?

Now that you’re clear on the regulations around fence height and planning permission you can start thinking about the design of your fence. Browse our full range of fencing products or, if you know the style of fence you’d like, use our handy fencing calculator to generate an accurate cost estimate.

If you have any other questions relating to garden fences, you’re welcome to get in touch.

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