Q. I’m thinking of converting my front garden into parking space. Can I just go ahead and do it?
A. The short answer is no. Of course, you are perfectly at liberty to knock down your own garden wall and flatten your front garden if you want to, but you need council permission to drive your car backwards and forwards across their pavement - and that depends on your willingness to pay for a council-approved contractor to insert a dropped kerb and reinforced crossover.
In any case, many councils are now refusing permission for dropped kerbs in all but the most exceptional cases, on the perfectly understandable grounds that there are already far too many of them. After all, every new dropped kerb effectively eliminates one more parking space on the street itself – thereby making the problem worse for everyone else.
Besides, the dropped kerb is only part of the problem. You are perfectly at liberty to flatten your own front garden, but you can’t concrete it over or have it paved without planning permission, and this applies to patios and terraces too.
The reason for this is the growing concern over the progressive loss of green spaces in cities and towns and the increased risk this brings of surface water flooding. Wherever this happens, it drastically reduces the extent to which rainwater can soak away naturally into the ground. Instead, it collects rapidly on the surface, before pouring into already seriously over-stretched sewage systems.
There is a way round this, of course. You can use special porous bricks, gravel or paving slabs with large gaps to allow the water to soak through.At the end of the day, you can always try to get permission but just bear in mind it may well be refused.