Do I need planning permission for my electric gates?

cast iron electric gates

To be honest, it’s difficult to give a straightforward answer to that question, as it depends on so many different variables. Planning permission has quite a broad-ranging remit – it exists to prevent any development that might have a negative impact on any sites of historic interest, the local character of an area, and its environmental health. It’s also concerned with protecting the public’s interests, including the use of (and enjoyment of) public spaces and facilities, as well as the privacy of their own dwellings. So if you were building, say, a timber deck that would inadvertently allow you to see over your neighbour’s fence, your planning permission application would likely get rejected, as it would affect their enjoyment of their own space.

So then, how does all this apply to electric gate kits? Well, electric gates can affect their surroundings in two main ways – through their appearance and aesthetics, and their function. While obviously we can’t talk about your specific gates in detail here on the blog, we can cover some general guidelines that you should find helpful.

General things to know

Typically, if you’re thinking about doing any kind of building work on your property, you’ll need to at least think about making a request for planning permission from your local planning authority; normally your local council. Bear in mind that permissions will vary between different authorities from region to region.

You’ll need to apply for planning if you want to erect (or add to) a fence, wall or gate if any of the following apply:

  • If your new installation would be more than a metre high, and situated next to a highway used by vehicles, or a footpath attached to one of these highways
  • If your new installation would be more two metres high anywhere else
  • If your right to put up or alter fences, walls and gates is removed by an Article 4 planning direction or planning condition
  • If the property is a listed building, or in the curtilage of a listed building
  • If your installation (or any boundary relating to it) forms a boundary with an adjacent listed building or its curtilage

If you live in a conservation area, like an Area of Natural Beauty or a National Park, then you’ll probably find that the criteria for any new developments (including your electric gates) will be a lot stricter. It’s wise to check with the local authority even if you’re sure that your gates meet the permitted development criteria, largely because as we’ve mentioned, permissions will vary across postcodes.

If your gates are likely to substantially change the aesthetics or appearance of your property, especially if it’s several decades or even centuries old, then it’s likely that they’ll require planning permission.

electric gate

Permitted developments

Now, if you don’t live in a conservation area then most electric gates will fall into the category of ‘permitted development’, in which case you won’t need planning permission. However, that’s not guaranteed, so take care to make absolutely certain before any work begins! If you don’t have planning permission before you start, you’ll risk being made to take it all down again if your application is refused for whatever reason, which can be a costly and frustrating process.

As we’ve touched on above, whether your gates will be classed as ‘permitted development’ depends a lot on their size, appearance, and exactly where they’ll go.

If your gates open out onto a private or unadopted road – such as, you know, your own – then you can safely erect a gate up to 2 metres high without the need for planning permission. If they’re going out onto a public highway though, they can only go as high as 1 metre or less. Any higher than that, and you’ll need planning permission.

Things are a little different if you’re not actually adding new gates, but rather just replacing ones that were already there with new gates of the same size. In that case, you typically won’t need planning permission unless your new gates are going to be higher than the older ones.

Talk to your neighbours

This is perhaps the single most underrated piece of advice we can give you here at Gate Auto, because we’re no strangers to neighbourly disputes holding up the progress of an installation. If you apply for planning permission, the process tends to take the opinions of your neighbours into account (as it should do), so it makes sense to have them already on-side! It allows you to get an early, informal warning about if any of your neighbours feel your proposed electric gates would be out of character for the area, or affect the history or aesthetic appeal of the neighbourhood. That way, you can adjust your plans accordingly. It might not be good news, but it’s better to find out that information ‘over the fence’ as it were, rather than in the form of a written complaint through official channels, and delivered through your letterbox.

Talking with neighbours can actually make things easier for you in a whole heap of ways – for example, it helps to avoid any misunderstandings about who has legal ownership over what area, which is another one that can lead to some surprisingly fierce disputes. Ideally, you’ll probably want to settle those before you begin any effort and expense on the actual installation.

Now, we’re not legal experts here at Gate Auto, but we do have more than 30 years of experience in supplying and fitting high-quality electric gate kits. So if you’ve got any questions, we’ll be happy to help as much as we can. Alongside our wide range of electric gate kits, we also provide a comprehensive array of garage door openers and other accessories to ensure you get the most out of your investment. Feel free to browse them right here on our site, or give us a call on 01282 677300!