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Chelmsford planning and building control

Environmental Policy

Graham Williams Buildign & Landscaping recognise that in managing their activities they have a responsibility to customers, employees and the general public. They have therefore adopted an environmental policy, which incorporates the principles of sustainable construction.

New Planning Laws for Driveways and Front Gardens

There is an enormous amount of confusion at the moment regarding new rules and regulations concerning paving the front of your home. The main aim of the new regulations, brought into effect in England on October 1st 2008, is to reduce the risk of flooding, by reducing water runoff from your property, onto highways and into sewer systems. The legislation is designed to encourage sustainable thinking when it comes to planning drainage at the front of your property. Rear garden patios, courtyards and paving to the sides of the property are not affected.

You will NOT need planning permission if a new driveway uses permeable (or porous) surfacing which allows water to drain through, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.
If the surface to be covered is more than five square metres planning permission will be needed for laying traditional, impermeable driveways that do not control rainwater running off onto roads.

Therefore, permeable block paving is an option that can be considered, but there are ways that standard block paving can be laid in order to fit within the guidelines of the new legislation.

The real key to abiding by the legislation is to ensure that surface water runoff is intercepted (and then fed to a sustainable drainage installation) before it reaches the public highway and the already overburdened sewer system.

Soakaways are seen by many contractors as one of the most economical and efficient methods of implementing a Sustainable Drainage System (the term Sustainable Drainage covers the methods of dealing with excess and waste water in an ecological and environmentally sound manner). Soakaways are a relatively simple, yet effective method for dispersing surface water. In very simple terms, soakaways are holes in the hard landscaping that allow water to drain straight into the ground as oppose to a man made network of pipes and sewers. The ground itself has a large capacity for storing water and by directing run off there; it can significantly reduce the risk of flooding. It is important to note that soakaways will not work in every situation and as such it is recommended that a drainage expert is consulted prior to installing such a system.

If you are in any doubt please visit:

New Building Regulations

As from 1st October 2008, the laws on planning permission have been relaxed and simplified. This is our guide which summarises the changes and how they can impact on your home

The new laws make it easier to develop your property without having to go through the often lengthy process of applying for planning permission. The information here is our basic overview guide of the amendments made to the planning laws but we still advise you to make the necessary calls to your local authority when thinking of developing your home. Alternatively you can always visit:

The Three Key Areas Of Change:

There are 3 key areas of change which you need to be aware of when thinking of developing and improving your home:

- Extensions and additions

- Front garden driveways

- Renewable energy products

Extensions and Additions

You can now add to or extend your home without the need ti apply for planning permission provided you meet a new set of limits and conditions:

No more than half the area of land around the original house would be covered by additions or other buildings

No extension forward of the principal elevation or side elevation fronting a highway

No extension to be higher than the highest part of the roof

Maximum depth of a single-storey rear extension of 3 meters for an attached house and 4 meters for a detached house

Maximum height of a single storey rear extension of 4 meters

Maximum depth of a rear extension with more than one storey of 3 meters including ground floor

Maximum eaves height of an extension within 2 meters of the boundary of 3 meters

Maximum eaves and ridge height of extension no higher than existing house

Side extensions to be single storey with maximum height of 4 meters and width no more that of the original house

Two-storey extensions no closer than 7 meters to rear boundary

roof pitch of extensions higher than one storey to match existing house

materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house

no verandas, balconies or raised platforms

upper floor, side facing windows to be obscured glazed, and opening to be 1.7m above the floor

special restrictions apply to land such as national parks and conservation areas


Adding decking does not require planning permission so long as it doesnít go more than 30cm above ground level and does not cover more than 50% of the garden area.

Conservatories, Garages and Lofts

Conservatories are considered the same as any house extensions so just refer to the points above.

Garage conversions can be carried out without the need for planning permissions so long as there isnít any enlarging of the garage or if the permitted development sights have been removed by the developer e.g. new developments or conservation areas.

Loft conversions are now considered as permitted developments, subject to the following conditions:

A volume allowance of 40 cubic meters for terraced houses

A volume allowance of 50 cubic meters for detached and semi-detached houses

No extension beyond the plane of the existing roof slope of the principal elevation the fronts the highway

No extension to he higher than the highest part of the house

Materials to be similar in appearance to the existing house

No verandas, platforms or balconies

side facing windows to be obscure glass, any opening to be 1.7m above floor

roof extensions, apart from hip to gable ones, to be set back as far as practicable, at least 20cm from eaves

roof extensions not to be permitted developments in areas such as national parks or conservation areas.

Fences, Walls and Gates

You will still need to apply for planning permission of you wish to build a wall or add to a fence if:

it will be over 1 meter high and next to a highway used by vehicles (or the footpath of such a highway) or over 2meters high elsewhere

the right to put up or alter fences, walls and gates is removed by article 4 direction or planning condition

the house is a listed building or is curtailed like that of a listed building

the fence, wall or gate or any other boundary involved forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building.

Planning permission is not required to take down a fence, wall or gate, or to alter or improve and existing fence, wall or gate.