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This question arises with surprising regularity. The simple answer is that as long as you adhere strictly to the conditions set out below, you do not require planning permission to:
- erect a new fence;
- maintain, alter or take down an existing fence.
[Of course, this subject is very relevant to the issue of adverse possession of land, known colloquially as ‘squatters’ rights’. If that is a concern for you, we recommend our article on that topic.]
How high can a fence be without planning permission?
With regard to the height of the fence:
- If it abuts a highway used by vehicles (or the footpath of such a highway if there is one), it cannot exceed one metre in height from ground level.
- In all other situations, a fence cannot exceed two metres in height from ground level.
If an existing fence already exceeds that height, the height must not be increased.
Fences and listed buildings
As with any works involving listed buildings, you must be very alert to the rules and restrictions. In terms of fences, if:
- any part of the property is a listed building or is within the curtilage of a listed building; or
- the fence forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its curtilage,
you will almost certainly require planning permission to undertake any fencing work. Indeed, you should not commence any work without first taking specialist advice. You can check the position of nearby listed buildings using the search tool on Historic England’s website. However, that tool will not confirm the position of the curtilage.
Fences and Article 4 directions
The right to erect or alter a fence may have been removed by a direction made under article 4 of the General Permitted Development Order.
Article 4 enables the Secretary of State or the local planning authority to withdraw specified permitted development rights across a defined area. These orders are made where development would affect the character of an area of acknowledged importance and are most commonly found in conservation areas. The existence of such a designation tends to be well known, particularly among residents, but if you are unsure then check with the local planning authority before undertaking any work.
Fences in Conservation areas
If the property is within a conservation area, you will need planning permission to demolish a fence:
- of one metre or more in height if it abuts a highway (which includes a public footpath or bridleway), waterway or open space; or
- of two metres or more in height elsewhere.
Please note that this article discusses the planning requirements for fences. Different rules may apply to walls, hedges, or other boundary markers or structures.