Do You Need Planning Permission For Decking In Your Garden

Planning permission for decking

Decking can transform any garden into a tranquil outdoor retreat or a vibrant space for entertainment and relaxation. Broadly speaking, decking refers to the construction of a flat platform or terrace, typically made from wood or composite materials, which can extend from a house or be freestanding in a garden. Homeowners opt for decking as it enhances the aesthetic appeal of their outdoor space and increases the area’s usability, providing a sturdy and level surface for furniture, barbecues, and plants. 


Although it may be tempting to go right ahead and add decking space, there are some considerations and regulations surrounding the addition of decking to your property. This guide will assist you in understanding whether planning permission for decking is required for your

General Decking Rules & Regulations

In many localities, the need for planning permission when adding decking to your property falls under the realm of a ‘permitted development.’ Generally, this means that as long as your decking meets certain criteria, you may not need to apply for planning permission. These criteria often include considerations such as the decking’s height, its cumulative effect on garden space, and its proximity to neighbouring properties.


Decking that is not elevated more than 30 centimetres above the ground and does not cover more than 50 per cent of the garden space is typically considered permitted development. However, care must be taken to ensure that the decking does not infringe on public spaces or affect the privacy and right to enjoyment of adjoining properties. It’s crucial to remember that specific regulations may vary across different municipalities or regions, and what applies in one area may not be the same in another.


Additionally, suppose your property is located within a conservation area, a national park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or a World Heritage Site. In that case, additional restrictions are likely to be in place. These additional regulations play an important role in preserving the character and appearance of the area and may require property owners to seek planning permission regardless of the size or height of their decking project. It is also important to note that for any listed buildings, any kind of exterior development, including the addition of decking, will usually require planning permission.

It is always recommended to consult with your local planning authority before beginning any decking project. Checking the specific rules and guidelines set by your local council can save you time and help avoid potential legal issues later on. Being informed and compliant with the local planning rules for decking ensures that your new outdoor space is legal, safe, and respectful of the community environment.

Specific Criteria For Raised & Sloped Decking

When it comes to raised decking, which is often preferred for its enhanced views and feelings of openness, or decking situated on sloped ground, there are specific criteria to take into account:


  • Height of the Decking: Planning permission may be required if the decking is more than 30 centimetres (about 12 inches) above the ground. This height consideration ensures that the structure does not negatively impact neighbours’ privacy or the local environment.
  • Proximity to Property Boundaries: Decking that is close to property boundaries might require permission, especially if it could potentially overlook neighbouring properties and affect their privacy.
  • Size of the Decking Relative to Property Size: If the decking covers more than 50% of the garden area or the outdoor space of the property, planning permission is often necessary. This rule is to maintain a balance between built and natural environments in residential areas.
  • Location within the Property: Decking at the front of the property, especially in a front garden, is more likely to need planning permission than decking in rear gardens due to its visibility and impact on the street scene.
  • Designated Land or Special Areas: In areas such as national parks, World Heritage Sites, conservation areas, or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stricter rules often apply, and planning permission may be required even for smaller decking projects.
  • Listed Buildings and Historical Areas: If your property is a listed building or is in a designated historical area, almost all changes, including the addition of decking, will likely require planning permission.
  • Impact on Neighbors or Environment: Over and above just height, if the decking could potentially cause issues with neighbours due to blocking light, views, creating privacy concerns, or if it has an environmental impact, planning permission may be necessary.
  • Attached to the House or Freestanding: Decking attached to the house might be treated differently from a freestanding structure in terms of planning permission requirements.


It’s crucial to check specifics with local authorities as local conditions and restrictions can vary, and what is permissible in one region may be restricted in another.

Differences In Regulations By Location

Geographical location can greatly influence the regulations concerning decking. Local governments often have the autonomy to set their guidelines, which can lead to significant variances in rules from one county to another. For instance, rural areas with more space might have more lenient regulations compared to urban locations where space is at a premium and privacy concerns are heightened. In some cases, the historical significance of a place can result in stricter controls aimed at preserving the locale’s character and heritage.


Regulations may focus on environmental impact and sustainability in coastal regions or flood-prone zones, necessitating materials and construction methods with minimal ecological footprints. Meanwhile, areas with a high prevalence of wildlife may have additional protections to conserve local flora and fauna.


Researching and understanding the specific decking regulations pertinent to your location is always advisable. Engaging with local planning officers can provide the following:


  • Clarity and guidance.
  • Ensuring that your decking project aligns with regional planning policies.
  • Thus avoiding costly rectifications and legal complications.

Do You Need To Make Neighbours Aware

While it’s not always a legal requirement to notify your neighbours about your decking project, it is generally considered good practice to do so. Keeping your neighbours informed can help maintain good relations and resolve potential disputes at an early stage. Your neighbours have the right to comment on your planning application should one be necessary. If they have any concerns, they can submit these to the local planning authority, which will consider them during the decision-making process. 


If your garden decking project significantly affects your neighbour’s property, they may have grounds to raise a legal objection under the Right to Light Act or other privacy laws, even if planning permission was unnecessary. This is particularly relevant if the decking compromises their access to light or privacy. 


Additionally, under the Party Wall Act, if the garden decking is close to or on the boundary of your neighbour’s property, you may need to issue a formal notice and receive your neighbour’s agreement. Being considerate and communicative can often defuse tensions and foster cooperative solutions.

Process Of Applying For Decking Planning Permission

The process of applying for decking planning permission involves several steps. Initially, it would be best if you compiled a detailed plan of your proposed decking project, considering all the specific criteria mentioned above. Once you have a plan, you need to submit an application to the local planning authority. This includes filling out the required forms, supplying the necessary drawings of your project, and often providing a fee. 


Applications can typically be submitted online via the Planning Portal, a government-approved website for handling planning applications in England and Wales. Here’s the relevant link to start your application: Planning Portal – Application Service


It’s essential to provide as much detail as possible to avoid delays in the application process. After submitting your application, the local planning authority will review your proposal, which may include a consultation period where neighbours can comment on your project. It’s crucial to stay proactive and cooperative throughout this process to expedite your application.

What If I Don't Obtain Planning Permission When Required

Failing to obtain planning permission when required for your decking project can lead to serious repercussions. The local planning authority can request that you dismantle any structure built without permission. This is known as an enforcement action, and if you do not comply, you could face legal proceedings and potential fines. 


In some cases, you may be allowed to submit a retrospective planning application, but there is no guarantee that it will be approved. To avoid these risks and potential expenses, ensure you secure the necessary planning permissions before commencing any decking construction.

Navigating Planning Permission For Decking with Due Diligence

To wrap up, the journey to adding decking to your property can be complex, punctuated by an array of regulatory considerations ranging from local laws to environmental regulations and neighbourly courtesy. By carefully researching and adhering to the requisite planning permission for decking and respecting the concerns of both the community and the environment, homeowners can confidently construct their ideal outdoor space. 


Whether you’re enhancing your home for personal enjoyment or adding value to your property, the key is balancing creative vision with legal and social responsibilities, ensuring your decking project stands on solid ground and in harmony with its surroundings.

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