Retaining walls - which side is "ground level" measured?

Retaining walls - which side is "ground level" measured?

Postby exhartlepudlian » Fri Jun 13, 2014 2:25 pm

This is basically about boundary walls/fences/hedges on sloping boundaries, where "ground level" depends on your point of view and "original ground level" seems to be equally ambiguous unless you have access to a tardis.

My road doubles back on itself and is two rows of houses back to back, both rows following the gradient of a hill.
Half way along, the road goes round a 180 degree bend, dropping one storey in height over the bend so my row's first floor windows are level with the ground floor windows of the row behind.
My property is on the lower corner where the road doubles back on itself and has a plan view like the lower right quadrant of a circle.
If you can picture the lower right quadrant of a circle, the top is high ground, the bottom is low ground and the curve is my front/side garden wall.
The straight sides would be boundaries between me and my neighbours.

My intention is to rebuild, or build up an existing stretch of this wall which separates my property from the public pathway and road.
The existing wall is about 2 foot tall and the top and bottom step downwards by a course of bricks for every few metres along the length of the wall.
The area behind the uphill half of the wall is effectively our back garden, screened from the road by a mature hedge directly behind the brickwork. There is also a wood panel fence stepping down perpendicular to the wall between it and our house.

I want to level the sloping back garden but to do this will need to make part of the boundary wall into a level-topped retaining wall. At the point where the base is lowest, this will make the wall around 1 metre high, possibly higher. I'll similarly replace the stepped fence panelling with a totally new retaining wall perpendicular to the boundary wall. Viewed from the back garden, the new walls will be one course of bricks higher than the new, flat ground level. From the road, the height of the wall will vary along the length. I'd also like to provide privacy screening with some sort of 5 foot panel fence mounted over/behind the wall.

As the heighest part of the planned built-up wall adjoins the public pathway and may be a metre or more above pavement level, will I need planning permission for this?

Also, if I want to put a 5 foot fence panel above the new ground level on the inside of the wall, will that cause problems?

One alternative is to leave the existing boundary walls and hedge in place unchanged and build the new retaining wall BEHIND the exisiting hedge. Normal "ground level" is higher a few foot back from the roadside and as I'd be building within my garden and not directly on a public boundary, would that make a difference?

I have the opposite problem with a neighbours garden: they've already raised the height of part of their land by a few feet (a decade ago) to allow for an extension to be built within a meter of our boundary. It means that the 5 foot boundary fence that they own which predates their extension is only about three foot above the raised ground level on their side. When they stand near the fence, we have no privacy in our garden or lower floor rooms. From a "ground level" standpoint though and the fact that our land slopes downhill quickly away from the boundary, we'd need an 8 foot or higher fence on our side of the boundary to give privacy.

We are at least on talking terms with the neighbour who owns the boundary fence but sadly he has no interest in changing his fence, or having us change it for him at our cost. In an earlier post on this subject, the word "leylandi" came up and for now, leaving the existing ramshackle leylandi hedge in place on our side of the fence is the best option we've got. Unfortunately its in bad condition (cut back too hard by the previous owners) and difficult to maintain, with the tops at about 5 foot high on their side but about 10-12 foot from where we'd have to put ladders on our side to trim it. If though we terraced our back garden, bringing the ground level at the back level with the raised ground level on the other side of the fence, could we treat this as the common ground level and put a 6 foot fence on it without falling foul of whatever regulations there are?
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Re: Retaining walls - which side is "ground level" measured?

Postby MacadamB53 » Fri Jun 13, 2014 8:46 pm

Hi ex,

I want to level the sloping back garden

if I was you I'd be asking my LPA if this will require planning approval (general enquiry for a friend...)

Kind regards, Mac
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