Decking complaint (threads merged)

25 Nov 2019
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United Kingdom
Hi first post on here
Hope you can help

I have a long rear garden which I built a decked area 20 years ago at the highest point furthest away from my home.
I built a middle decked area this year
And also a lower decked area at the same time. I made sure that the ground level adacent to it was within the 300mm rule for permitted development. However because of the natural slope of the ground
The front of the decking is obviously higher ( to be level) when measuring from the lowest part of the ground.
A complaint has been made by a neighbour to the council as I had a planning enforcement officer show up when I was not home and a relative let him acesss the rear garden.
I had letter saying I have to remove both decked areas or apply for retrospective planning at over £200 within 28 days
As his letter stated the he had measured it from the lowest ground level and therefore it was to high. Also there was a privacy issue.
I sent him a reply saying that the guidlines stated measurements should be taken from the highest point. Of uneven /sloping ground. But he has replied saying the below.

Dear Mr **********

No part of the decking should be raised more than 30 cm from the natural ground level. If the height was taken from the from the area immediately adjacent to the building (which is quite correctly the case for extensions), then decking could be erected several feet up in the air in a garden with a severe gradient and cause serious overlooking issues. If you still wish to challenge this you may wish to seek the services of an independent planning agent who will be able to advise you further.
Mr ********
Planning enforcement officer
Is he right? as everything I have seen says he isn't
Also privacy is not applicable in this context tor gardens I believe

Advise please
Thank I'm advance
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If permitted development applies, it's 300mm from the highest adjacent ground. It does not matter if the rest of the ground slopes. No ifs or buts.

There are several posts similar to this very situation and council letter.

The fence does not come in to it. There is no right to privacy with regards to back garden fences and planning regulations. That planner should not be commenting on things outside of his remit and expertise.

With any planning regulation and height, height is always measured from the highest point of the ground immediately adjacent to the development (ie the deck). 300 mm for a deck is established as permitted development, and it does not matter what height the other end is above ground.

Invite that planner to state precisely why he does not think this so in your case, and advise him that you would not like to go to the expense of instructing professionals to prepare and submit an application purely on his advice - and then have to complain to the Ombudsman for your costs back if this was not necessary.

View attachment 129800
If the height was taken from the from the area immediately adjacent to the building (which is quite correctly the case for extensions), then decking could be erected several feet up in the air in a garden with a severe gradient and cause serious overlooking issues.
yes there's a whole web site somewhere dedicated to the perverse pathological cases of permitted development. I'm sure decking on a slope will be in there somewhere.
Is he right? as everything I have seen says he isn't
Also privacy is not applicable in this context tor gardens I believe
He is not right, but privacy (overlooking actually) would be in context if you were applying for planning permission, but you're not because you don't need it.

Having said that just check there's not an Article 4 direction on your area (remove certain permitted development rights), and you're not in a conservation area or any other restriction.

In terms of action, it's bizarre he suggests you hire a planning consultant, I'd be tempted to write back and suggest he hires one instead!:LOL:
You could either ignore it and wait and see what happens, modify the decking/fencing to keep the neighbours happy (and thus yourself happy life), or start a long argument to gently point out the rules.
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It isn't entirely clear which way your garden slopes- it sounds as if it is low at the house & high up the garden. In which case you may be on a sticky wicket- there is allowance for sloping gardens but that usually requires taking the datum ground level as being ground level immediately adjacent to the house or building which the decking connects to. Pics or a drawing would be handy.
If you've terraced the decking so that at each step the height above AGL maxes at 300mm then you're fine, if the decking is flat and 300mm AGL at the house end then you're fine (even if it is 5000mm AGL at the end of the garden), if its the other way round (so you're 300mm AGL at the end of the garden and 5000mm at the step or the house) then I suspect you're out of luck. Might not seem fair but a lot of the PD stuff isn't really fair by that measure.
Keep an eye on the 50% cover as well
I replied to this letter and said this
Dear Mr #######

Many thanks for your telephone call and correspondence regarding the recent visit to my address with reference to my neighbour's complaint to you. The complaint is relating to decked areas that have been recently erected in the rear of the garden.

I wanted to bring a few things to your attention, and hope that you are able to reconsider your request to ask me to apply for planning permission.

You have stated there has been a breach in planning control in relation to the lower and middle decked areas. You mentioned that the area in question has been measured from the ground's natural level, which you have stated are from the 'lower' level adjacent to the structure, and thus the decking are deemed to be over the permitted 300mm.

Before I started construction I researched legislation and case studies around permitted development regarding decking heights, specifically on uneven ground / natural sloping ground.

In the guidelines from the government it states;

"Building” - includes any part of a building and includes any structure or erection" (or in this case 'decking')

“Height” - references to height (for example, the heights of the eaves on a house
extension) is the height measured from ground level.

"Ground level is the surface of the ground immediately adjacent to the building in question (or in this case decking). Where the ground level is not uniform (e.g. if the ground is sloping), then the ground level is the highest part of the surface of the ground next to the building
(or in this case decking)."

I arranged for both the lower and middle decking to be constructed well within the 300mm rule when taking the measurement from the highest part of the (sloping) ground surface.

With this in mind, it is my contention that no Planning Permission is required on either deck.based on the guidelines from the general issues section from the.department for Communities and Local Government Permitted development for householders.(Technical Guidance.

In light of the above information I hope that you can reconsider your request to ask me to apply for permission for the structures.

Regarding the conversation regarding privacy issues with next door neighbour there is no such thing as a privacy issue In planning or permitted development to back gardens fences and planning regulations. This is also not an issue due to the generous planting around the structures, meaning that there is no privacy issues.

Many thanks,
You can see the steep slopes
But from the rear of all the decking areas are all only 200mmA Above ground ( further away)

Your thoughts appreciated

If they have been carried out as per this drawing, you should be fine, as per Woody's second post. Your 300mm will be measured from the left hand side as viewed on the above drawing (highest ground level) on each of these decking areas. Your reply should be OK to cover most points.

The officer may be new(er) at this; measuring from the lowest area is totally wrong and so is that font he's used.

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