fence height

How to choose the correct height for your new garden fence.

When it comes to choosing which type of garden fencing you want to install, here are some of the factors you might want to consider and their implications for your choices when it comes to fence height and style.

Is the fence going up in the front or back garden? Why is this important?

UK planning regulations set out what is permissible with or without planning permission.  This means that for front gardens, a general rule is that fences should be under 1m or 3ft in height without planning approval, which means you can do pretty much what you want with regards to the fencing and gates if you are keeping things under or up to the 1m height mark.  

You can go higher, but you will need to consider if you want to make a formal application for planning permission before you do that.  Planners will look for vehicle movement, for example in and out of a driveway which crosses a pedestrian pavement, and may restrict the height to allow for pedestrian and driver visibility in range of the driveway access point.

What this means is, they may allow a higher fence away from the vehicle access but restrict the height to 1m for the area affected by the entry and exit points of vehicles, which is common sense in the interest of safety, especially for young children.  It's important for them to be able to see a vehicle moving, but also for vehicle drivers to have good visibility of children as they walk or cycle past a driveway.

In rear or back gardens, which is generally considered to be all land behind the line of the front face of the house, your fencing is generally allowed to be up to 2m in height without a requirement for planning permission.  As most fence panels come in a maximum height of 1.8m, this rule allows for a generously sized base board and a decorative top edge framing or capping rail to be added to the uppermost edge of the new fence without contravening the 2m planning height rule.

Again, you may want to build the new fence higher than 2m but this will require you to consider the implications of doing this.

In my experience, planners will only take an interest in what you're doing if it directly affects them, or if someone reports your fence for a contravention of the regulations.  That doesn't mean anyone has a valid complaint if you go above the height restrictions however. Claims for breaches have to be valid, and have to be made by someone directly affected, and this generally means your direct neighbours.  Even then, any claim for a breach would have to demonstrate a loss of amenity, either a loss of a view they were entitled to enjoy, or a loss of natural light they have enjoyed on their side of the fence previously.  

My best advice is to obtain prior agreement for anything you want to do with your neighbours, and do the work in partnership, preferably with a record of agreement of some kind.  That may seem like taking things to the extreme, but a clear, concise record of agreement is worth having and keeping for future reference.  Neighbours have been known to disagree and fall out occasionally, so this step can be vitally important to keep everyone to their original pledges of what was agreed to.  It doesn't need to be overly complicated, a simple plan drawing with a proposal description and a signed statement to agree will generally be enough.  For more complex issues, you may want to run things by your legal representative, and make the agreement a formal contract.  Everyone's circumstances are different so do what you feel comfortable with, and always bear in mind that properties can be sold and a formal agreement on paper, signed, is a valuable asset going forward.  In the next section we're talking boundaries.  See you in there.

Fencing on the boundary