Raised Decking - falling foul of changing rules

17 Apr 2012
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United Kingdom
I researched constructing a deck to level our back garden and make it child friendly, this was in 2007.

Our garden is terraced with a 7 foot patio outside the back door, a 2 foot drop, then a patio for a further 8 foot, then slops downwards away from the house.
The deck was constructed last month, sat on top of the higher patio, then straight out over the lower patio, raised up, to the front of the lower patio.

Our view of the our neighbours garden has always been clear from the upper patio, whilst we are a semi, the adjoining house is 4 foot lower than ours. Add to that that they lowered their patio whilst having an extension built, a fence (their fence) that stands 7 foot high from their patio is only level with my knees when I am stood on my upper patio. Having built the deck out across the garden, clearly I have extended our vantage point. Even when stood on the lower patio I have a clear view over their fence and though their kitchen window. (Our neighbours to the other side look down onto the deck).

I hadn't realised the regulation change and had thought I had explained fully our intentions to our neighbour, but they weren't happy. I thought I was within my rights and we talked about having adult conversations should there be problems in the future where we could discuss screening or whatever might need to happen should the neighbour feel there were real problems.

However, I was unaware that a raised deck now requires planning, and after a visit from the council, I am now expecting a letter to apply for retrospective planning. (Didn't get an answer immediately, the officer had to check with the office their interpretation of the rules).

So, I can apply for planning, which should only cost £150, however I am sure getting drawings done is going to cost me more. Add to that that we will likely get refused, and whilst the officer told me we could appeal, that is going to add costs, money I don't have. The truth is we are going to have to make alterations to get it passed or put up higher screening (we don't want to obstruct other neighbours views up the hill with higher screening).

So, the question is, now that we are on the council radar, if I were to chop the deck at the front of the original higher level patio and lower the front 8 foot down onto the lower patio, resulting in a two level deck (with steps), neither of which are going to be more than 30 cm from the floor, will the council accept that, or am I going to have to apply for planning regardless. Whilst this is not as good a solution for us as a family, it is a change we are willing to make to keep the council happy and our neighbours happy.

My plan is to try and confirm (with the council) that making the change will put the deck outside the scope of requiring planning, and then speak to the neighbour about the change, then go ahead and make the change.

Anyway, I need final confirmation from the council before I carry out more work, but the uncertainty is driving me mad, so if anyone has any pearls of wisdom, or their own experience of moving a project from needing planning permission to not needing planning permission, that would be great.

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The ground level used to determine the height of the decking is immediately beneath it. If your decking is less than30cm above existing ground level then it doesn't need permission.
The deck sits 150mm above the ground at the back of the house, but is 900mm above the ground as it extends into the garden. :(
the 300mm is above the natural ground level it covers if its a sloping site it will be higher down hill
but you must take into account different steps or levels at per applicable date
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But that is the problem with it all. House is 50 years old, not sure where you find plans with that level of information on it. Could mean that the deck by the back door is actually over the 300mm but where it is currently 2 foot above ground level it could be less than 300mm above the original ground level.

It would appear that applying the rule is a bit random, even the enforcement officer said he had to go back to the office to find out their interpretation of the rules, and I guess it will take into account privacy and stuff like that.

All I can do is wait and see what they come back with and take it from there. He said he would call with good news, which he hasn't so I am expecting a letter.

If (as per earlier comment), the planning application only costs £150 and I can submit my own drawings and appeals aren't going to add to the cost, that wont be too bad. The enforcement officer said they wouldn't serve an enforcement notice, worst case scenario would be retrospective planning, then appeal if refused, and apparently we could be looking at 18 months for all of that. That is the bit I can't stand, having to wait all the time to conclude things, I would rather get a quick fix in, if I can.
applying for retrospective permission doesn't gtee you will get it :(
I know, and 2 be honest, from what I have read in the last day or two, I don't expect to get it. That is why I would prefer to split the deck onto 2 levels and make it so that it effectively doesn't need planning. Whilst a pain, it wouldn't be too difficult to do. I would rather just do something now and be done with it, rather than have to go through the pain of having to apply, appeal, amend and ultimately have to come up with some compromise anyway.

But it also looks like that even if I lower half the deck onto what is currently the lower patio, it may be that even then the council may say that it needs planning permission, so I guess I need them to agree to what I could do before I do it. :(
i would dig out as many pictures as you can find off the area to establish what levels/areas have been altered since 2008 and pre 2008
so you can sort out the relivent alterations in case off dispute as in
"this area was 600mm before [2008]so not lowering it to 298mm"
This is what it was like when I started work, the only difference in 2007 when we moved in was plants growing!! So it is effectively the same now as it was 5 years ago.
The deck sits 150mm above the ground at the back of the house, but is 900mm above the ground as it extends into the garden. :(
Counting the brickworks, looks like it's approximately 700mm ish above ground level unless I'm seeing it wrong?

However, it would be a lot easier, less grief and money to lower it, wouldn't be too difficult to lower it providing you know what you're doing by cutting it in the correct order and with temporary supports then any new neighbours won't complain in the future and planning dept will leave you alone but will need a decking stairs to patio door
It's approx 7 foot from the patio door to the front of the brick work, so the deck would need to be split, 7 foot deck in front of the patio, still at that height, then drop the next 8 foot down around 21 inches onto the lower patio, with some steps from the top to the lower level, and a hand rail along the front of the top level. All not too bad to do, but as the top deck will still be there, albeit a lot smaller, and there is no way to lower that, I need to confirm that this will be enough to placate the council and keep everyone happy.
Took long enough, but letter in the post today. I am in breach of the 300mm rule, and need to either apply for planning or remove.
I would prefer to resolve in the easiest way possible, so trying to get confirmation that if I split it, then have 2 decks which are sat directly on the original patio, whether that will keep everyone happy.
council are the ones to ask
they may accept what you say or argue the point so best to talk to them
but make sure they understand what your saying and find out what there objections are and ask for solutions
good luck :eek:
I am doing exactly that. Want to keep all on side and resolve in the best way poss.
Looks like I could argue the point, as the only issue they appear to have from the letter is exceeding 300mm in height above the ground level.

It is just annoying, because ALL the information I have found states height is from the highest point nearest the property, and no where does it state that not one part of the deck can be over 300mm, so arguing the point should mean they can't produce an actual rule I have broken. My aim is to talk very nicely to the council to come up with a solution which is quick easy and going to cost me the minimum amount.

My proposal is to split to a 2 level deck, so effectively have 2 decks sat directly on 2 existing patios joined by stairs. This must fall firmly inside the 300mm rule regardless of how you interpret it. Not as good for our family (this is an area for three toddlers to play on), but if it keeps all happy.

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