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Short answer? Maybe. It depends on the height of the fence, the proximity of roads and (realistically) your relationship with your neighbours. If you follow height regulations, you can likely put up a fence up to 2m in height with no problems.

There are different rules for conservation areas and for listed properties – if you have purchased a heritage or ‘at risk’ property, it’s possible that you will not be able to make any changes at all.

How High Can a Fence Be? 

Planning permission is generally required if the fence is higher than 2 metres – and potentially as low as 1 metre if the fence is by a road. You can also apply for retroactive planning permission, if your fence accidentally exceeds regulations, or if another person can raise reasonable objections. (Remember that this may not be successful).

You are not generally obligated to have or maintain a fence, although it is the norm in our society. If you are planning to put up a fence, it’s advisable to talk to your neighbours. While it isn’t a legal matter, a chat at the right time can save a heap of trouble.

Planning Permission

Building a fence is one of those areas where it’s definitely better to seek permission than forgiveness. If you don’t get a permit and your planning application is rejected, the council can – and likely will – order your fence to be taken down. Housing authorities can be incredibly strict, especially if there have been several infractions and they want to make an example of someone.  

Sticking to height rules might not help if you are feuding with your neighbours, or if they have a ‘reasonable’ reason to disagree with your alteration. One hotelier couple had to take down their fence after their neighbours claimed it was put up purely to annoy them!

However you can generally repair or replace a fence if it will be the same height and bulk as a pre-existing fence that has been in situ for a number of years.

Can I Object To Someone Else’s Fence?

In short, yes you can. You can legally object if the fence exceeds height requirements, or is placed on the wrong boundary. Ideally, people planning to erect fences should head off any neighbourly disputes by letting you know first. If you have to object after the fence is built, be sure of your legal rights, and try to keep things civil.

There was an unfortunate case a few years back where neighbours feuded over a property boundary. One couple put up a fence to mark their legal boundary (as defined by their housing deed) – and when they were on holiday, their neighbours took it down. The other couple tried to justify their actions by saying that the fence was ‘tatty and unsightly’. The feuding neighbours ended up in a protracted legal battle which resulted in the objecting couple having to sell their house to pay legal costs.

The two largest factors in erecting a garden fence are the goodwill of your neighbours and the attitude of your council. If you determine that you do need planning permission, the best thing to do is to make your application online. Fences are not subject to building regulations. You can also apply for a ‘Lawful Development Certificate’, a slightly different form of planning permission that can be quite complex; professional advice is advised.

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