The government proposes more stringent planning rules to fight flooding on impermeable surfaces

A government strategy to help prevent flooding could mean homeowners have to apply for permission to pave over their front gardens.

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Only those using porous material would be exempt from the new rules which are intended to reduce the strain on drainage systems by allowing more water to drain into the ground.

The proposed change to planning rules came as part of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs’ (Defra) wider review on maintaining and securing water supply in the UK. According to a Defra document, in London alone two thirds of front gardens are already paved over, an area equivalent to 22 times the size of Hyde Park.

Environment secretary Hilary Benn said at the launch of the review: “We are already taking action to address a number of the key issues, including seeking views from stakeholders on how the Environment Agency might take on the strategic role for all forms of inland flooding, including surface water."