Planners clamp down on paving

Landscapers warned over enforcement drive in wake of latest sustainable drainage legislation.

Planners restrict permission for permeable paving - image: Interpave
Planners restrict permission for permeable paving - image: Interpave

Trade body Interpave has warned that new planning and environmental laws relating to sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) could land contractors in trouble if more organisations do not begin to take heed.

In 2008 permitted development rights which automatically allowed people to lay paving anywhere in a garden or driveway were revoked, requiring instead that permeable paving be used on front driveways larger than 5sq m.

But an Interpave spokesman said many contractors and installers are either not aware of the change in law or are ignoring it. Until now it hasn't been strictly enforced but planning officers are beginning to clamp down, he warned.

"A recent planning appeal was rejected and someone had to rip up the driveway he had installed because it wasn't made of permeable materials and had no planning permission," he said.

"It's the homeowners who will pay the price but there could be repercussions for the contractors. In essence installers might find themselves in legal trouble if they are seen to be giving professional advice which is false," he added.

Contractors could also damage their reputations in the long term if their clients had to rip up the work they had done, he said.

Additionally, the new Flood Water Management Act, passed in April last year, is due to come in to force shortly. Interpave warned that this will have even wider implications for installers and landscapers. It will require SUDS to be implemented in any new constructions with any changes to the permeability of the ground needing special consent.

"This new act will give teeth to SUDS. People will have to adhere to it and if they don't they will be breaking the law. But again there is a lack of awareness and many people seem to think it is only applicable to big developments. It isn't - it can be something as small as a patio," he said.

Contractors should familiarise themselves with the legislation and begin to follow the guidelines as an example of good practice and environmental awareness, he advised. "Fundamentally, it's about taking a responsible approach."


Interpave has written a guidance document, Paving for Rain, which it says explains the rules and how homeowners can "make the most of concrete block and flag paving around their homes to satisfy them, and still create a beautiful garden using the latest permeable paving products and other techniques".

It also aims to help planners, surveyors, conveyancing lawyers, designers and landscapers to understand the impact of the latest regulations. The guide can be downloaded from Interpave's website at

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