Navigating the subtleties of property boundaries and fence regulations can be a delicate matter, especially when it pertains to maintaining harmonious relationships with neighbours. One common query amongst homeowners in the UK concerns the legal height of a fence that divides adjacent properties. This blog post aims to shed light on this topic, offering a comprehensive guide to help you understand the legal parameters and considerate practices of fence installation and modification.

Legal Basics

In the UK, the general rule of thumb for the height of a garden fence without planning permission is up to 2 metres (about 6.5 feet). However, if your fence faces a road, the maximum permitted height without planning permission is reduced to 1 metre (about 3.3 feet) to preserve visibility and maintain aesthetics from the street view.

It’s important to note that these guidelines apply to the heights of fences, gates, and walls around your property. Nonetheless, there are exceptions and specific scenarios where different rules might apply, making it prudent to research further or consult with your local council before undertaking any fence-related projects.

Considerations and Exceptions

Planning Permission

While the aforementioned heights are generally accepted, there are scenarios where planning permission may be required:

  • If your property is listed or located in a conservation area, additional restrictions likely apply. It is essential to consult with your local planning authority (LPA) before making any changes.
  • If your deeds specify particular conditions or covenants concerning boundary treatments, these must be honoured above the standard regulations.
  • Installing a fence above the permitted heights, including adding trellis or any other extensions, necessitates planning permission.

Deed Restrictions and Covenant Agreements

It’s also vital to check your property’s deed for any restrictions or agreements made by previous owners concerning boundary treatments. Such conditions could dictate the type of boundary (fence, hedge, wall) and its maintenance responsibilities. Ignoring these could lead to legal disputes with neighbours or the council.

The "Right to Light" and Overhanging Trees

Another consideration is the "right to light", a common law that could impact how high you can build your fence. If a new fence unjustly blocks a neighbour's window, causing significant reduction in natural light, it may infringe upon their "right to light", potentially leading to legal consequences.

Additionally, overhanging tree branches from either side of the boundary can affect fence height considerations. The owner of the tree is responsible for maintaining it, but mutual agreement is always the preferred initial approach.

Best Practices When Erecting or Modifying a Fence

  1. Communication: Before any work begins, have a friendly conversation with your neighbour about your plans. This can prevent any misunderstandings or disputes down the line.
  2. Boundary Check: Ensure you know where the boundary lines lie. If unsure, consult with a solicitor or consider hiring a surveyor to clarify the property lines.
  3. Planning Permission: If your plans exceed the permitted heights, contact your LPA to discuss whether planning permission is needed.
  4. Professional Installation: Proper installation according to local regulations reduces the chance of future disagreements or the need to modify the fence.

Resolving Disputes

Despite all precautions, disputes can still arise. The initial step should always be to try and resolve the matter amicably with your neighbour. If that fails, mediation services offer a less confrontational solution. As a last resort, legal action through the courts can determine the rights and obligations of both parties, but this can be costly and time-consuming.


Understanding the legal height of fences between neighbours, along with associated regulations and best practices, can ensure that you maintain both privacy and good relations in your neighbourhood. Should you wish to make alterations to your fence, a thorough approach that includes checking regulations, consulting with neighbours, and possibly obtaining planning permission, can save you from future stress and ensure that your fence fulfils both your needs and legal obligations.

Remember, the guidance provided here serves as an overview, and local regulations or unique circumstances may necessitate additional actions. Contacting your Local Planning Authority for clarification is always a prudent step if you’re unsure about any aspect of fence installation or modification.