Class A – Erection of gates, fences, walls etc.

 

The GPDO allows you to erect a wall or a fence to a certain height on your property.

  • If adjacent to a highway used by vehicles, then you are limited to 1m in height
  • If close to a driveway or junction or it might block the view of anyone using the highway it needs to be lower so that it does not block that view
  • If outside a school it maybe up to 2m as long as it doesn’t block the visibility of the highway users
  • Elsewhere it can be up to 2m in height

You do not enjoy this permitted development right to erect a fence or wall if the property and curtilage is a listed building.

A fence or wall higher than 1m next to a highway used by vehicles or above 2m elsewhere will require planning permission.

“Highway” is not defined in the GPDO for the purposes of Part 2. Section 336 of the principal 1990 Act defines the term by reference to the meaning within the Highways Act 1980. The interpretation section of the 1980 Act says “highway” means the whole or a part of a highway other than a ferry or waterway.”

No definition of ‘vehicular traffic’ exists either within the GPDO, the 1990 Act or the Highways Act 1980. There is nothing to suggest that for the purposes of the GPDO, the term ‘vehicular traffic’ is confined to motorised vehicles or that the highway must be open to all forms of vehicles. This could therefore include cycles or horses. Therefore a highway could include cycle paths and bridleways.

At appeal many inspectors have taken the view that a “highway” may be a private road so long as it is one over which the public has a right to pass and repass.

The height of the fence is measured from the natural ground level which may be higher or indeed lower than surrounding land. This could result in one neighbour seeing a fence that is higher as it might be built on a retaining wall for example.

walls and fences

The ability to erect and fence or a wall could be withdrawn via a restriction on the building usually through a previous planning application or via an Article 4 restriction in a conservation area or AONB etc.

A hedge is not a wall or a fence and so within reason this does not have a height restriction. Although it could be classed as a nuisance. If you are blocked from having a fence, then a hedge might an an alternative. See our page about hedges.

It is generally accepted that if the wall is set back from the road by a few metres then it is not adjacent to the highway, and can therefore be higher. There is no definition of the required distance. Some local authorities seem happy with 1m, others 2m. Although sadly we have seen enforcement get involved with fences further than this.

If you are looking to demolish a wall or fence, this is controlled via Class C of Part 11.

Note that if you remove a wall or fence, you might not have permission to erect a new fence or wall in the same location if legislation has changed. Likewise removing a hedge with a fence might not be possible either. Or you might have to erect a 1m fence instead of the much taller hedge.

 

Painting of fences and walls

If the fence belongs to you, then you may paint your fence or wall. However if the fence is owned by your neighbour, then you may only paint, stain or varnish your neighbour;s fencing with their permission.

The same rules apply to using the fence as a support for plants etc. You may only do so with permission. You could be liable for any damage caused.

 

 

Legislation

Class A – gates, fences, walls etc

Permitted development

A. The erection, construction, maintenance, improvement or alteration of a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure.

Development not permitted

A.1 Development is not permitted by Class A if—
(a) the height of any gate, fence, wall or means of enclosure erected or constructed adjacent to a highway used by vehicular traffic would, after the carrying out of the development, exceed—
(i) for a school, 2 metres above ground level, provided that any part of the gate, fence, wall or means of enclosure which is more than 1 metre above ground level does not create an obstruction to the view of persons using the highway as to be likely to cause danger to such persons;
(ii) in any other case, 1 metre above ground level;

(b) the height of any other gate, fence, wall or means of enclosure erected or constructed would exceed 2 metres above ground level;

(c) the height of any gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure maintained, improved or altered would, as a result of the development, exceed its former height or the height referred to in paragraph (a) or (b) as the height appropriate to it if erected or constructed, whichever is the greater; or

(d) it would involve development within the curtilage of, or to a gate, fence, wall or other means of enclosure surrounding, a listed building.

Interpretation of Class A

A.2 For the purposes of Class A, “school” includes—
(a) premises which have changed use under Class S or T of Part 3 of this Schedule (changes of use) to become a state-funded school or registered nursery as defined in paragraph X of Part 3; and

(b) a building permitted by Class C of Part 4 of this Schedule (temporary buildings and uses) to be used temporarily as a school, from the date the local planning authority is notified as provided in paragraph C.2(b) of Part 4.

 

Updated: 12th May 2024

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