Most people will say 2 metres (6.56 feet). While this is not wrong, it’s also not exactly right. Technically, a fence can be as high as you’d like. However, you need planning permission if it’s higher than 2 metres (6.56 feet).
But, this legal requirement is not the only factor to consider when choosing an ideal height for your garden fence. You also have to consider that a taller fence is more susceptible to wind. It is also more likely to block sunlight from your garden or cause disputes with neighbours.
Because of these other factors, this article won’t just answer your original question. It will also help you choose an ideal height for your garden fence. We will keep it short and simple. So that you can focus on more important things, like enjoying beautiful mornings and evenings with loved ones in the privacy of your garden.
How high can my garden fence be if I don’t want to apply for planning permission?
You can install a fence of 2 metres (6.56 feet) high (at most) without planning permission. This means the total height, from ground level to the top of the fence, must not exceed the permitted 2 metres. However, you are only allowed to reach this height if the fence is not beside a public highway, road or footpath. If the fence is fronting a road (common with front garden fences), you can’t build higher than 1 metre (3.28 feet).
These rules apply to any type of fence, including wood, concrete or metal. Only hedges are exempted. So, get planning permission if you want to build a fence (front or back garden fence) that doesn’t comply with these rules. It (planning permission) costs about £200 upwards.
If your fence is higher than permitted and you don’t get planning permission, your local council can order you to remove it. They usually send this order (called an enforcement notice) within 4 years of erecting the fence. If they don’t send it during this period, you probably won’t have to worry anymore.
If they do send the enforcement notice, you can appeal or comply. Either way, the episode could cost a lot of money and time, more than you would have spent by getting the planning permission in the first place.
What other permits do I need to install, remove or replace a fence?
Here are three other permits you might need when installing a new fence or replacing an old one.
- Building regulations: This is important if your location has rules guiding permitted developments.
- Listed building consent: This is important if you are in a conservation area or listed building.
- Landowner’s permission: This is crucial for rented properties. You need to get the permission of your landowner before installing a fence or making any other significant changes to a property.
How do I get the permits required to install, remove or replace a fence?
With the exemption of the landowner’s permission, you can get all the necessary permits from the authorities at your local council. You can do this online or offline. For the former, visit the official website, fill and submit your application. You might also be able to track your permission on the website, even if you applied in person.
How high should my garden fence be?
Unfortunately, we cannot provide a perfect answer to this question. The best we can do is explain the factors that you should consider.
- Privacy and security: These two are probably high on the list of features you need in a fence. Obviously, a taller fence will offer more security and privacy. However, 2 metres is more than enough.
- Wind susceptibility: The taller a fence is, the higher the risk of wind blowing it down. So, don’t let it get too high. However, you can reduce this risk by ensuring the fence posts are at least 0.61 metres (2 feet) deep.
- Sunlight and view blockage: A taller fence will block sunlight and view from you and your neighbour’s garden. If you want a tall garden fence, we recommend trellis toppers. They offer a much softer boundary. So less blockage of sunlight and view. They also have great aesthetics and are great for climbing plants. Do note that the height of the trellis topper is part of the permitted 2 metres.
- Your neighbour(s): A taller fence is more likely to cause disputes with neighbours, especially if their garden is also nearby. We will cover this next.
How do I manage fencing disputes with a neighbour?
The best way to manage these disputes is to stop them from happening. They are caused by misunderstandings and the inability to reach agreements. So, talk to your neighbour before any major fencing project, whether installation, replacement or even repair. The project could affect their property too, even if the effect is indirect.
This doesn’t mean you don’t get the final word. If you are installing, repairing or removing a fence on your property, you have the final word. An aggrieved neighbour can only file a complaint with the authorities, which is only possible if there are violations. Likewise, you can file complaints for violations by a neighbour’s fence.
The opinions of both parties only carry equal weight if the fence is on boundary land. In this case, the fence is subjected to the Party Wall Agreement. You both own and are responsible for it. So you must both consent to any fence removal, modification and replacement job.
If there is no agreement, neither party can proceed with a project on that fence. Plus, there is no way to force the other party to share the costs of such a project.
You can confirm the actual owner(s) of any fence by checking the deeds and land registry plans for the involved properties. Either way, whether the fence belongs to you, your neighbour or both, do your best to reach an amicable agreement. It will save you a lot of stress and bad blood.
Despite what we have discussed so far, you need to know that these rules often vary from location to location. So, we encourage you to contact your local council to confirm the permitted fence height and other associated rules. As a matter of fact, we recommend you do this for any significant home improvement project.