Although you probably don’t often think about it, your garden fence is a key feature of your outdoor space. In addition to improving privacy and security, your garden fence can enhance the appearance of your property, especially if you adorn it with plants and flowers.
But what should you do if your current garden fence is a bit of an eyesore? Upgrading or replacing your fence may be high on your to-do list, but there are a few details you need to iron out first. Keep reading to discover the essential facts you need to consider before changing your garden fence, including how high your fence can legally be.
Maximum garden fence height in the UK
In the UK, homeowners must follow a series of garden fence height restrictions unless they receive planning permission for a project that doesn’t follow these restrictions. Failure to abide by these restrictions may result in you receiving an enforcement notice from your local authority, instructing you to remove your fence, wall or driveway gate. These enforcement notices can be issued up to four years after your fence/wall/gate was erected, and it is a criminal offence to ignore an enforcement notice.
Here’s a basic guide to garden fence height restrictions in the UK:
- Garden fences, walls or gates can be a maximum of 2 metres tall. If you want to build a taller fence, you will need to apply for planning permission from your local council.
- If your fence, wall or gate borders a road, highway or public footpath, it should have a maximum height of 1 metre unless you have planning permission for a taller structure. As a result, back garden fences are usually up to 2 metres tall while front garden fences are under 1 metre.
- If you live in a Conservation Area, a listed building or a house that borders a listed property, you can’t make any changes to the height of your fence/wall (or any major changes at all) unless you apply for planning permission. You may also need to apply for listed building consent.
When do you need garden fence planning permission?
If your planned upgrades and garden maintenance don’t contradict any of the restrictions listed above, you don’t need to apply for planning permission before getting started. For example, if you want to replace your current back garden fence with a fence that’s under 2 metres tall (and you don’t live in or near a listed building), you can start your project straight away and have complete control over what you’re doing.
However, if your plans don’t align with the above restrictions, you may still be able to have the garden fence you want as long as you have planning permission. Find out more about obtaining planning permission from your local council later in this article.
Who owns the fence in your garden?
It’s not just the opinion of the local authority that counts. Although you can make any changes to your garden fence (within the restrictions) as long as you own it, this gets more complicated when you have close neighbours.
Your garden fence could be very close to your neighbour’s garden and could therefore affect the appearance of their property, or you may actually share a fence. Before making any changes to a garden fence, make sure you check who owns it rather than making any assumptions. If you own the fence, this should be stated in your title deeds. You may be able to find your title deeds with the solicitor who arranged your purchase of your property or with your mortgage company. You can also check the HM Land Registry records online.
Even if you own the fence outright, it’s still a good idea to chat to your neighbour about your plans if your garden fence is close to their property. You can still make the changes you want, but having a good relationship with your neighbour will make your life easier, so it’s best for everyone if you both approve of your garden fence plans.
If it turns out that you don’t own the fence you want to change, or you can’t find any information on who owns it, you should consider having a polite chat with your neighbour about it. If you explain how your proposed idea would benefit both of you, they may agree with your plans and you can split the cost.
Maximum garden fence height with a trellis
Although a very tall fence can improve garden security and add privacy to your outdoor space, it can also make your back garden much darker and more closed off, especially if you have a small garden. Trellis toppers are a very popular solution to this issue, as they can extend the height of your fence without cutting off too much natural light. Plus, you can add climbing plants to the trellis to beautify your garden fence and create the calming, inspirational garden you’ve always dreamed of.
If you do decide to install a trellis topper on your garden fence, you need to ensure that this doesn’t mean your fence exceeds the height restrictions. Trellis toppers are included within the 2-metre maximum height limit, so you need to consider this if you’re planning to install a trellis. However, any plants you grow on the trellis aren’t included in this height restriction, so if you have a 2-metre-tall garden fence with tall plants growing out the top of the trellis, you still won’t need planning permission.
Maximum garden fence height with burglar deterrents
You’ll need to include any anti-climb features you’ve installed on your garden fence or wall when measuring this structure. These features can include anti-climb spikes and spinning fence toppers, which will add extra height to your fence/wall and could therefore make it exceed the maximum height restrictions.
When it comes to hostile access control features like barbed wire and metal spikes (anti-climb spikes are plastic and blunt), we wouldn’t recommend installing them at all, even if you’re within the height restrictions. If someone were to injure themselves on these features – even an intruder – they could sue you for compensation for their injuries. Plus, you can’t install such dangerous features on fences or walls that border paths, unless you have planning permission for a structure over 2.4 metres tall and you install warning signs.
How to apply for planning permission
Luckily, the process of applying for planning permission is pretty simple. If you need to apply for planning permission to upgrade or replace your garden fence, all you have to do is contact your local planning authority (LPA) through your local council.
Applicants are usually encouraged to submit their application electronically through the local planning authority’s website – you can find your local council here to start your application. The government website also provides a wide range of planning application templates you can use.
Frequently asked questions about garden fences
Can you have an 8 ft tall fence?
Since 8 ft is over 2 metres, you will need planning permission if you want to have an 8 ft tall garden fence. If you don’t get planning permission for a fence this tall, your local council could issue an enforcement notice telling you to take it down.
Can you put a trellis on top of a 2 metre fence?
Trellis toppers are included when calculating the overall height of a fence, so if your trellis makes your fence taller than 2 metres, you will need planning permission. However, if your fence and trellis are 2 metres tall but there are plants growing above this height on the trellis, the plants aren’t included in the overall height, which means you won’t need planning permission.
Is the fence mine if the posts are in my garden?
Generally, the fence posts should be on the owner’s side of the fence. However, to be sure, we would recommend checking your title deeds or having a conversation with your neighbours.
Do you have to pay for a planning permission application?
Yes, you will need to pay a fee for your planning permission application. The fee will vary depending on the type of application submitted.
Once your new garden fence is installed, you’ll need a stylish new gate to complete your renovation project. Check out our range of wooden gates, aluminium gates, composite gates and more at The Expert Gate Company, or contact us today to get professional advice on your upcoming garden fence project.