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Written by Daniel Woodley. Fact Checked by Paul Farley. Published to Prices. Updated: 10th March 2023.

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On the 1st October 2008 and as a result of repeated flash floods in suburban areas around the UK, new drainage regulations came into force.

These rules do not apply to driveways constructed prior to October 2008, only to those completed after that date.

New driveways over five square metres in size should not permit rainwater to discharge onto the public highway or footpath. Where possible, the designer and installer should make provisions for the rainwater to disperse into the ground within the boundary of the property.

There are several options:

1) Use Permeable Materials and Sub Base

Since the driveway drainage regulations came into force, I’ve seen hundreds of compliant products come to market.

You can now choose from permeable tarmac, resin and even blocks. These materials allow rainwater to soak through to the sub-base, and if this is also permeable, the rainwater is free to soak into the ground.

Gravel is also a compliant option, again provided the sub-base is permeable.

2) Construct a Soakaway and Connect Drainage Channels

Another option I’ve seen is drainage channels which collect the rainwater, so it doesn’t flow onto the public highway or paths.

The channels should then be connected to a drain, with a soakaway being the most popular option.

Many of the properties I’ve worked on already had a soakaway in place but I’ve also worked on projects where we had to install a new one.

Soakaways should be located at least five metres from the property, so this option is more suited to homes with larger gardens.

I’ve installed soakaways many times over the years and while they aren’t cheap, they are easier to install before the new driveway is constructed – retrofitting a soakaway afterwards was always more expensive and disruptive.

Explore our guide to rainwater soakaways here.

3) Allow Rainwater to Flow Towards Lawns and Flowerbeds

This is an option that I’ve seen work very well on smaller driveways – if you can construct the driveway so rainwater flows towards lawns and flowerbeds where it can drain away naturally, then you may not need a costly soakaway.

This won’t be a viable option for some properties, it depends on the layout, size and slope of the garden.

4) Underground Rainwater Harvesting

The most expensive option but popular with conservationists and those that use a lot of water on their garden plants and lawns.

You can install a large water storage tank either under the drive or adjacent to it under the garden.

Channels divert surface rainwater to the tank and a pump transfers the water to another tank in the garden so you can water the lawn and plants etc.

I’ve only ever worked on one property where this was being installed, but it was an impressive system.

5) Get Planning Permission to Discharge Onto Roads/Pavements

If you feel you have no other option, you can apply for permission from your local council to discharge rainwater from your driveway onto the public footpath or highway.

When the regulations first came into force back in 2008, I made two applications on behalf of clients in an attempt to save on costs, but both were rejected.

Based on my experience, I think the planning department at your local council is only likely to grant permission if all other options aren’t viable, so I suggest you apply in advance, rather than retrospectively.

Cost to Install Driveway Drainage

Driveway drainage is rarely installed as a standalone product and is usually built into the ground as the driveway is being constructed/renewed.

If a soakaway is already in place, then the extra cost is negligible, as drainage channels cost around £20 per metre and are fairly easy to install.

If there’s no soakaway in place or it isn’t big enough to cope with the extra water, then one will need to be installed, and the cost will depend on its location, size and amount of pipework required.

I’ve overseen the construction of basic, simple soakaways built under lawns for a 2/3 car driveway, and they added an extra £1500 to the driveway cost.

However, if the installer needs to remove walls, patio slabs, concrete or other materials to construct the soakaway, then the cost will rise, often substantially.

Based on my experience, soakaways are very difficult to price without first seeing the property. I’ve worked on some that were easy and quick to install and also others that were very complex, required lots of pipework and remedial repairs to the surface.

Video Showing Permeable Driveway Materials

You may find this video interesting:

Driveway Drainage Photos

Photos of different types of driveway drainage:

Drainage channel at the driveway threshold

Driveway drainage channel at the drive threshold; this should be connected to a rainwater soakaway. Note the lack of channels at the edge of the driveway.

Discreet slimline cdriveway drainage channel

Discreet driveway drainage channel. This is my favourite as it’s difficult to see.

Gravel drainage

Gravel drainage, I’ve seen this next to swimming pools, on patios, driveways and paths.

Drainage channel

A classic drainage channel.

Get Advice From a Qualified Driveway Installer

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Author: Daniel Woodley

Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries, including a spell working as a project manager.

In his spare time, Daniel enjoys gardening, hiking and scrambling. He frequently posts videos to his popular YouTube Channel and is well known in the hiking community.

More About Daniel Woodley.

Daniel Woodley

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This guide to driveway drainage was created by the team here at DIY Gardening

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