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​Kerb appeal: How to plan a driveway

Johannes van Graan Johannes van Graan
Cedarwood:  Houses by Nicolas Tye Architects
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When admiring someone’s house from the outside, what’s the first thing you see? The front yard? The façade walls? Well, for many people the layout and condition of a driveway speaks volumes about the homeowners and their commitment to beauty. And with good reason. After all, what would you think of somebody content with a cracked pavement and cluttered driveway? 

In terms of kerb appeal, a neat and clean driveway not only makes a huge difference, but also adds value to a home. But for a wow-worthy first impression, your driveway needs to be decently designed. 

And it all starts with how to plan a driveway…

1. How to plan a driveway: The costs

Nothing in life is free, and that includes that fabulous new driveway you’re dreaming about. But its final price will depend greatly on the size of the area, the amount of preparation work needed, and final materials. And don’t forget to factor in the labour needed to install said driveway. 

To kick-start your planning, bear in mind that, generally, groundwork should cost around £20 per m². The cost for surfaces range from £4 per m² for gravel, to £54 per m² for resin-bound paving.

2. How to plan a driveway: The size

Of course no two driveways need to be identical in design or size. But there are certainly rules regulating the minimum size of a practical driveway. And for it to work in terms of parking an average-sized car and moving comfortably around it, your driveway needs to be a minimum of 3m wide.

This space will increase should you wish to park more cars, obviously.

3. How to plan a driveway: The materials

As far as economical options go, gravel is the number one choice. It costs as little as £4 per m², plus is easy and quick to lay. But factor in at least an afternoon for decoration and clean-up to ensure a natural-looking, weed-free driveway that enhances kerb appeal. 

And how can one retain the gravel? By using edging stones, curbs or bricks. Just make sure it stops about 20mm short of the edging’s top. To prevent further movement, use a sand-based foundation and angular gravel to ensure it beds in.

Next up on our list of material options is asphalt, which costs approximately £15 per m² for a single layer. But for better durability, opt for installing two coatings instead of one. 

When it comes to the highly popular block paving, users can choose from permeable and non-permeable versions. Prices start from around £28 per m² and include installation. For more decorative and complex patterns, the price can shoot up, especially when real stone instead of stone-effect concrete is used.

4. How to plan a driveway: Planning Permission

Good news is that you don’t require Planning Permission if a new or replacement driveway of any size makes use of a permeable or porous surface which allows water to drain through. This includes gravel, permeable concrete block paving, porous asphalt, or if the rainwater is directed to a lawn or border for natural draining. 

However, Planning Permission will be needed if the surface to be covered is more than five m² (unless the surface is Sustainable Drainage Systems / SuDS compliant). 

If you need a drop kerb (crossover) installing to access your new drive, you will also need to apply for Planning Permission from your local authority. This is due to the fact that the kerb may also need strengthening to protect any services buried underground, like water pipes. Contractors hired by your local council will supply the necessary labour and materials for this. Once the kerb is dropped and the new driveway installed, the council will inspect whether water is being drained effectively.

5. How to plan a driveway: The drainage

A successfully designed driveway is so much more than adequate space for a vehicle. Good drainage is a vital component. Permeable surfaces need to allow water to quickly pass down into the sub base, where it must be stored, channelled or slowly released. This helps to prevent flooding and forms part of a practical driveway. 

Keep in mind that water cannot be allowed to drain into the main carriageway or the drain in the road. It needs to drain into a flowerbed, soakaway or into the property’s drains. If possible, remove a 20cm strip either side of your driveway. Fill it with decorative stone to allow for good natural drainage.

Another option would be to use gravel or direct water from an impermeable surface to a grassed area, which can absorb the water. Other well-known materials for drainage include permeable block paving, porous asphalt or concrete.

6. How to plan a driveway: Adding interest

With practicality done, it becomes time to focus on your driveway’s visual appeal. So, how can you ensure a more visually striking driveway connected to your house?

• Combine various paving products, like stone pavers with gravel edging, for instance, which ensures visual interest and contrast. 

• Opt for curved edging instead of straight lines to separate your driveway from the lawn and flowerbeds.  

• Good planting will soften your driveway’s hard edges, plus help with drainage. We recommend evergreen shrubs for year-round interest that requires little maintenance.  

• Ensure your driveway remains interesting and safe at night by opting for lighting fixtures. Flush, drive-over lights can withstand the weight of a car, while low-bollard designs can ensure a more sculptural touch. And should you want lighting that only shines with movement, opt for products with movement sensors.

Speaking of parking spaces, let’s consider the Alternatives to garages: wooden sheds.

What would the perfect driveway for your home look like?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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