Law And Rights Of Garden Fencing
If you are considering putting up a new garden fence it may be that you have never considered whether there are any laws concerning it. In fact, the thought of laws concerning a fence may actually seem ludicrous, but there most certainly are quite a number of laws and you would be wise to think again.
One of the most common misconceptions is about the height of fence panels. If you look on certain websites you will see that the maximum height of fences is frequently referred to as just two metres. This is about as inaccurate as it could be. What they have omitted to tell you is that the maximum legal height of garden fences is two metres WITHOUT PLANNING PERMISSION!
Theoretically you can put up a fencing 100 metres high so long as you have planning permission to do so.
So in order to clarify that piece of thinking the law is that you do NOT have to have planning permission to erect a garden fence so long as it is two metres high or less. If it is over that, then you do.
However, here is where it gets more difficult. If your fencing is two metres high you need planning permission to put a trellis on top of it. In fact anything that will make it over two metres high requires planning permission except – wait for it – a plant. If you are growing a plant up your fencing and it happens to grow over the top of the two metre limit then that is OK. Unless you provide a support on top of the fence panels for the plant to hang on to. In which case it’s not. Because the support technically makes your fence panels over two metres high. Complicated, yes?
Now here is where things get even more difficult. You live in a house with a garden which has a fence at each side. One on your left neighbour’s side and one on your right neighbour’s side.
Who owns which fencing? If the fences fall down who’s responsibility is it to repair the fences? Do you own both fences or only one of them?
This is where there is another load of nonsense spoken. The perceived wisdom (yes I know many modern writers say “received wisdom” but that is because they don’t understand the meaning of the word “perceived”) is that if you stand with your back to the house you own the fencing on the right hand side.
If you think about it for more than a second you will see that this means that if you are standing in your front garden you own the fencing on the neighbour to your left as you enter your house, but in the back garden you own the fencing on the neighbour to your right as you enter the house. Confusing or what?
The reality is that you own and are responsible for the fences where the fence posts are in your garden. It doesn’t matter which side they are on. Since you cannot legally go digging holes in your neighbour’s garden the fence posts MUST be on your land, not on your neighbour’s. Therefore, if the fence posts are on your land the fencing belongs to you.
This is exactly the same principle as used on farmland where there is a ditch and a hedge dividing fields. You can’t go digging ditches on your neighbour’s property. Similarly you cannot dig a ditch and throw up a mound of soil on your neighbour’s land. Therefore the ditch must be on your land and so must the mound of soil that you throw up on to the land above it. It follows that both the ditch and the mound of soil thrown up from it must be on your land and so does the hedge which subsequently grows on the mound.
If you look at it in that light then it makes total sense and there can be no argument. Which is where the law, to some extent, makes sense.
Another consideration is safety. If your Derby fencing borders a public road then anything which may cause a danger to the public is not permitted. If a person walking alongside the road could suffer injury because of something along the top of your fence then it is illegal. An example of this is barbed wire along the top of a four feet high fence. It is obvious that a person walking beside the fence could come into contact with the barbed wire and suffer injury. You might think that is fair enough.
However, this then extends to such things as cementing broken glass into the top of a wall in order to deter burglars. Most people would think this not only a reasonable idea but a splendid one.
Not so. This is now illegal because someone trying to break in to your property might injure themselves while doing so. The Americans have an expression “Go figure”. To an extent you can see their point!
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