How you can use drainage to meet driveway regulations

How you can use drainage to meet driveway regulations

Marshalls explains how you can use drainage to meet driveway regulations

Earlier this year there were alarming news stories about new legislation that was set to ban paved driveways, sending builders and homeowners in a spin about future plans and developments. But whilst there was a slight link to the truth in what was written, the headlines were misleading. In this article, we look at the actual rules for driveways, highlighting the importance of understanding the detail on drainage and providing the best solution for the area you’re working in.

Why does driveway legislation exist?
The issue is about flooding. As you’ll well know, any hard surfaces, such as a paved driveway, can stop rainwater soaking into the ground. When this happens, the rain flows instead into council-owned drainage systems, or similar, often at high speed and in large volumes. Because climate change is causing rainfall to become more frequent and more intense, and we’re also seeing more hard-paved areas, our drainage systems are struggling to cope.

Driveway legislation is in place to stop people from adding to the flooding problem by paving over porous ground in front of their house – but that doesn’t mean that driveways are being banned! The legislation instead advises people who are changing their driveways to take simple, often cost-neutral measures manage the water on their own land, instead of directing it to shared sewers – effectively, using sustainable drainage systems to create driveways that don’t increase the risk of flooding.

What do the rules say?
The current rules have been in place across the UK since 2008. In simple terms, any new driveway over 5m2 must provide a drainage system for the water to run to a permeable area or use permeable materials. If it doesn’t, then the homeowner will need to get planning permission. Guidance that can be found on, states that “you will not need planning permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size uses permeable (or porous) surfacing, such as gravel, permeable concrete block paving or porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border to drain naturally.”

If you’re installing driveways in existing or new build homes, it’s worth getting to grips with the detail on the rules so you can simplify for customers and ensure that they’re taking the right steps to avoid issues further down the line.

How can I ensure my projects comply with the rules?
As the quote above states, there are a few options for creating new driveways that meet the legislation, and they still allow for the choice and creativity that many of today’s customers are looking for.

Most simply, the rainwater can be directed to run off from hard paving into soft planted areas, where it can soak naturally into the ground. All that needs to be done to achieve this is to build a gentle slope on the driveway in the direction the water needs to flow, ensuring that the slope falls away from the public pavement or highway.

Channel drains
Another solution is to install channel drain along the entrance to a driveway. A channel drain redirects the water before it goes onto the road, directing it instead to a “soakaway” which is within the property boundary.

What is a soakaway?
A soakaway is, a hole which fills up with water that soaks away over time.

Traditionally, people have been keen to avoid adding ugly drainage to beautiful new spaces, but times have changed and suppliers have created more subtle options. New solutions such as Marshalls Driveline Drain, are manufactured from concrete and are much more attractive than metal or plastic alternatives, while complying with government legislation. The drains can be installed easily, without compromising on style or design.

Permeable paving
And finally, there is another solution; permeable block paving which looks like any other block-paved surface. Permeable paving is specially designed to allow water to soak through the surface and into the ground below, stopping rainwater from entering sewers without the need for any soft landscaping, drainage channels, or soakaways. It’s also hard wearing and able to withstand the heavy loads.

Are there any other rules for driveways?
Not drainage related, but if you’re working in a Conservation Area, there will be additional factors to consider regarding materials and design. Your customer is likely to offer this information at the start of the project, but it’s always worth asking the question if the property appears to be in a heritage area.

In summary
If you’re installing a new driveway over 5m2 and your customer is keen to avoid seeking planning permission, you must share the rules and regulations with them. The choice of drainage comes down to the space and style of the driveway you’re working with, and you’ll also want to take into account additional measures if you’re working in an area of high flood risk. If you’re working with materials that are new to you, take advantage of supplier expertise and do your research too.

For further information on Marshalls visit

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