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Alleged Planning Breach - Decking on a slope

Discussion in 'Building Regulations and Planning Permission' started by MadDoc, 26 Apr 2021.

  1. MadDoc

    MadDoc

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    Hi all,

    I've read many threads around planning permission for elevated decking but I wanted people's opinion on my situation.

    My garden is on a slope. Here is a shot of the rear before we started any work:

    Previous.jpeg

    We are constructing an in-ground pool in the area where my kids are stood on the right of image. The pool comes to the existing ground level of the terrace they are standing on.

    We dug up the sloped patio on the left of image, levelled the ground to be flush with the new pool (the level of the ground outside the conservatory) and built a retaining wall:

    Current.jpeg

    We had a structural engineer involved from the start.

    I got a letter from the local planning office saying they had been made aware about a potential planning breach for an elevated deck above 300 mm. I am not sure how they were made aware (you can't see the development from the road). I am on good terms with all of my neighbours and none of them claim to have said anything.

    Standing on the new deck, you cannot see into my neighbours garden. The new deck does not provide me with any new vantage points over my neighbours (either to the left or right or at the bottom of my garden). As you can see from the first image, we already have a pretty substantial viewport from the upper level of the house.

    Here's a picture standing at the retaining wall looking back towards the house:

    Dug Down.jpeg

    As you can see, this clearly shows that we have dug down about 34 cm from the existing ground level at the house. We've not elevated. You can also see this by looking at the two curved planters in the earlier images.

    The retaining wall for the decking is about 55 cm on the left above the earth / grass rising to 1.3 m above the grass on the right. We have obviously excavated down into the garden to construct the retaining wall footing. We will be installing railing.

    My wife and I are now terrified that the council will reject retrospective planning permission. From our research I believe this is permitted development but I'm curious as to what others here think.
     
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  3. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    You have the evidence to demonstrate that it is PD. You just need to ensure the council officer understands that
     
  4. MadDoc

    MadDoc

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    Thanks @^woody^ , that's encouraging.

    Whilst digging around in various parts of the internet, I came across this appeal decision from the Planning Inspectorate from 2019 that seems to very convincingly state that the 300 mm is measured from the highest part of the slope:

    https://www.merton.gov.uk/assets/Do...on May 19 Decking a d Fence and Extension.pdf

    Paragraphs (5) and (6) are the relevant parts of that appeal:

    According to the GPDO Part 1 paragraph I, “raised” in the case of a platform means a platform with a height greater than 0.3 metres. The GPDO Article 2 (2) states that unless the context requires otherwise, the height of a building refers to its height as measured from “ground level”, this being the level of the surface of the ground immediately adjacent to the building in question or where the surface of the ground on which it is situated is not uniform, the level of the highest part of the surface of the ground adjacent to it. Article 2 (2) does not provide any indication that the height of decking should be measured differently to other buildings.

    No part of the decking exceeds 0.3 metres in height when measured from the highest part of the surface of the ground adjacent to it, this being the point at which to measure the height of the decking in line with Article 2 (2) above. Therefore, the decking does not amount to a raised platform as described in Part 1, paragraph I and it does not fall foul of the limitation at paragraph E.1(h) of Class E. Neither does the decking exceed any of the other limitations in Class E paragraphs E.1 to E.3. As a result, I find that the decking is permitted by the GPDO Schedule 2, Part 1, Class E. Moreover, as the decking is not a raised platform Part 1 Classes A and B are not relevant.
     
  5. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    There are several threads on here about decking and planners questioning it and even implying they will enforce against what is fundamentally PD. Do a search for the info and the outcomes

    300mm from the highest natural/existing ground level is the requirement for permitted development.

    The important thing is a robust response to them and don't be intimidated by their potentials/might-be's/could do's.

    The only thing I'd add is that the construction of that wall and that terrace is potential "engineering work", which could require approval. But that is distinct from the decking. Don't mention it or add anything except succinct responses to any questions. If the query is about the decking, keep the replies to that.
     
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  6. mrrusty

    mrrusty

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    @woody - in this case as there was already a substantial looking wall in approximately the same place and approximately the same height, could there not also be a "maintenance" angle to this as the old retaining wall has in effect been replaced by the new. But I agree, if the complaint is based on decking over 300mm that's the only justification that needs a response - better not to answer questions you haven't been asked!
     
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  8. ^woody^

    ^woody^

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    No. In a planning context, once something is removed, or substantially removed, then it gets treated as a new "thing" and if permission would be required for a new thing, it's required for the replacement.
     
  9. mikeey84

    mikeey84

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    I agree with Woody, this looks like PD (decking bit, not too familiar with engineering works and the definitions)

    However, as other threads have shown, planning officers either ignore the guidance, are ignorant of it or are deliberately belligerent.

    Stick to your guns, whatever they say, and if you have too, get your councillor/MP etc involved.
     
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  10. MadDoc

    MadDoc

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    @Thanks @mikeey84. I've responded to the planning officer who has asked for a few more pictures including the height of the retaining wall. I'll see what he says and report back.
     
  11. mrrusty

    mrrusty

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    This is irrelevant if it is PD. What he needs to see is the other side of the deck where it is <300mm above the actual ground level adjacent to the structure. AFAIK and from other threads the height at the other end could be 10m as long as the other end is within dimensions. I do suggest you search the threads here and read similar stories.
     
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