From 1 October 2008, new planning legislation for front gardens has come into place.
Anyone wanting to cover more than 5 square metres of their front garden with a non-permeable surface will have to obtain planning permission.
This new legislation has come into force to try and tackle the problem of flooding in the UK.
In many urban areas, homeowners have removed hedges, grass and plants and replaced them with some form of hard-standing to provide a parking space, or to reduce maintenance requirements. In some places whole roads no longer have any front garden, just paving for cars.
Climate change scientists predict an increase in the number and intensity of extreme storms over the next few decades and the flooding in the Midlands and north of England in 2007 highlighted problems with estimates as high as two thirds of the 55,000 homes being affected by surface run-off water.
To avoid the lengthy and costly process of applying for planning - and to prevent problems from flooding, why not choose a permeable option for your front garden. Grass, or reinforced grass, gravel, permeable blocks or porous asphalt are all good compromises - providing a hard surface whilst allowing water to percolate through.
Just look how this front garden was redesigned to include flowers and a large parking area whilst still keeping to the permeable paving guidelines
If you are looking for ideas on how to create attractive permeable parking in your front garden, the RHS have produced a great guide to Front Gardens which you can download from their site
There are also some great ideas from garden designers at many of the garden shows:
RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2007
Hadlow College’s garden design illustrates that it is possible to have flowers and plants as well as parking space in a front garden without the need for concrete.
The Full Frontal garden uses materials which will minimise surface water run-off, help prevent flooding and improve the water table by allowing water to permeate through and benefit the planting.
The result is an aesthetically pleasing garden which is not only practical but encourages wildlife and improves the look of the neighbourhood.
The Porsche Garden - designed by Piece of Green
RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 8th - 13th July 2008
The Porsche Garden demonstrates how an environmentally conscious urban dweller could combine a contemporary front garden with secure off-street parking.
Located in front of a typical London home, the garden hides a surprise - underneath its surface lies an underground parking system. The design comes to life as a section of the garden is raised in the air, and a car emerges from the earth ready to be driven away. The garden also features innovative living walls to reduce dust and noise levels, and log stack walls to offer a home to local wildlife.
This garden highlights the continuing disappearance of urban front gardens, so many of which are being paved over to provide off-road parking. We have lost an area estimated at around 12 square miles (or 22 Hyde Parks) in London alone. This affects the appearance of our streets, increases the urban heat island effect, raises the likelihood of subsidence and heightens the risk of localised flooding due to excessive water run-off.
For more information on the planning requirements see the government planning website