5 March 2010 by Sarah Davies

You and Your Garden The Legal Jungle

With spring and the promise of longer days approaching, you may be thinking about getting outdoors and into the garden. It may well be a place for fun and relaxation, however, there can be many legal pitfalls lurking in the bushes…

Hedges, bushes and trees… Whilst a well established garden is something to be proud of there can be nothing more frustrating than when your neighbours trees or bushes overhang your boundary or their roots cause damage to your paths or patio. The law permits you in these circumstances to cut any overhanging branch (or underground root growing into your garden) as long as you either return, or offer to return, anything you remove to your neighbour. The only instance when this doesn’t apply is when the tree is subject to a Tree Preservation Order, in which case you should speak to your local authority before you start any work.

Buildings, structures and decking… Generally garden buildings and structures such as sheds, summer houses and greenhouses do not require planning permission or Building Regulation approval; however, this is subject to certain conditions:

  • No more than half the area of the land surrounding the “original house” should be covered by additions or other buildings.
  • Outbuildings and garages should be single storey with the eaves being no more than 2.5m high and a maximum overall height of 4m with a dual pitched roof or 3m for any other roof
  • Any outbuilding should not be allowed forward of the principle elevation fronting a highway
  • If the cabin or building is within 2m of a boundary, the maximum overall height should be 2.5m

Decking is much the same and limitations apply depending on where the deck is situated and how high it is from the original ground level and whether it could affect the privacy of neighbouring property.

On 1 October 2008, new rules were introduced for householders who may want to pave their front garden. If a new front garden or driveway has a porous surface such as gravel, or is constructed in a way that allows for rainwater run off into a nearby lawn or border, no consent is required. If, however, the surface covers more than five square metres and does not control rainwater run off onto the roads then planning permission may well be required.

It is therefore advisable before carrying out any construction to check with your local authority as to whether any planning or Building Regulation consent would be required. In the past, the majority of small projects fell within ‘general permitted development’ rights; however, an increasing number of local authorities are limiting these rights.

If you live in a listed building, a conservation area, an area of outstanding natural beauty or national park then you should always check with the local authority before carrying out any works as much stricter regulations will be in place.

Let there be light… As of 1 January 2005 regulations on electrical installations outdoors were introduced. Any installation such as outdoor lights, pond pumps and lights, power to a shed or outbuilding and even a hot tub requires the electrical installation to be carried out in accordance with Building Regulations. You should therefore always ensure that your electrician provides you with an electrical installation certificate certifying that Building Regulations have been complied with. If you do not comply with the regulations, the local authority has the right to have any unauthorised works removed and to impose a fine up to £5000.

Whilst many of the above home and garden improvements may seem minor, if you wanted to sell your home and you do not have the relevant certificates or consents in place, problems may arise which may delay the sale. It is probably easier to stick to a bit of weeding….

25 February 2010 by Lynne Burdon

2010 – My best year ever!

As part of any plan it is important to think about what can go wrong. For me that means thinking about an early death, or maybe even worse a serious physical or mental illness, and how my children would manage without me.

26 February 2010 by

Achy breaky … lease

The valid exercise of a break clause is always important to parties to a lease but in the current climate, where good tenants are invaluable to a landlord, even more so.

Signup To Our Weekly e-News

"*" indicates required fields

We’ll never share your details with any third party in line with our privacy policy.