Until the 1990’s, timber decks in the UK were relatively rare and therefore evaded reference in existing statutory control documentation until 2008. People often subsequently consider that timber deck structures are exempt from planning regulations; however this is not always the case…
There are several scenarios where planning consent is required to construct a patio, terrace or deck, these are listed below
- Where the deck is situated within 20 metres line of sight of a highway.
- Where the deck is more than 1ft from the ground.
- If the structure or its use would affect the amenity value or privacy of neighbouring properties.
- If the deck is attached to a listed building or situated in a conservation area or National Park
Failure to obtain planning consent when these scenarios exist will result in serious consequences such as the Local Authority insisting that the structures are removed. It is possible to apply for planning retrospectively; however, they are rarely successful.
As well as the situations listed above, other restrictions may apply to the construction of timber decking. There are limitations to the overall deck area in relation to the existing property and garden area and in England decks shall not cover an area exceeding 50% of the property’s garden.
It is important to note that it is the legal responsibility of the owner to ensure that the Local Authority requirements are met, although they can assign this responsibility to an agent who will deal with the Local Authority on their behalf – for example a Chartered Surveyor.
Although a deck installation company has no obligation to ensure the local authority requirements are met, they may wish to offer this as a part of their service in which case the appropriate fees must be incorporated into their contract.
Any agreement where a property owner has assigned the responsibility to an ‘agent’ or deck installation company must be formally communicated and recorded via a letter from the owner as verbal agreements are considered bad practice and must be avoided.
It is the responsibility of Timber Decking Association (TDA) registered companies, as ‘competent specialists’ to explain the situations where planning is known to be considered. It is then up to the owner / agent / installation company to contact the Local Authority to seek clarity.
It is common that with a low level deck, a brief telephone call to the Local Authority is sufficient enough to provide confirmation or re-assurance that work can proceed without formal consent.
However, for large structures of a more complex nature, a written approach is recommended and this may need to include a drawing/sketch of the proposed deck and its relationship with the property and boundaries.
As well as consideration for planning regulations, adherence to current building regulations must also be undertaken and the involvement of relevant building control departments will usually be instigated by the Local Authority, but it would be wise to check as this can vary regionally.
Building control departments will be less concerned about where the deck is going to be constructed and will focus more on the factors that affect safety, particularly the inclusion of edge rails and parapets.
If you are concerned with the construction of a timber deck or any other part of your house, contact your local chartered surveyor, who will be happy to provide free and professional advice.