What Is the Law on Retaining Walls UK?

What Is the Law on Retaining Walls UK?

Retaining walls are a fairly common structure that you can find in many residential and even nature-filled areas. They are an incredible solution for optimising space and keeping areas safe and organised.

But the question remains, can anyone build one? Or do you need permission to make one?

In this blog, we will answer the question ‘What is the law on retaining walls in the UK?’

At PPC Concrete Products, we are here to provide solutions for your construction needs, from the person working their own part-time project, to commercial clients, and everyone in-between.

Monthly construction output had risen an estimated by an 1.6% value in June 2023, and we would like to think our accessible concrete products had a small part to play by giving our clients easy access to reliable and easy-to-use construction solutions.

Are retaining walls necessary?

Are retaining walls necessary?

In some environments, retaining walls are the best option available that can safely re-organise land without necessarily gutting the whole area. In other situations, retaining walls is one of many options available.

Retaining walls help to organise land that was originally on a slope, whether it is small or large. The benefit of this is creating a safe environment in which people can’t traverse the slope and therefore have the potential to slip down or up it.

Although their areas of application are far and wide, retaining walls are commonly found in gardens. Their construction can lead to an organised garden, which can allow space for more structures or outdoor installations.

But with that being said, can anyone construct a retaining wall? Or are there laws to it?

What is the law on retaining walls UK?

The law on retaining walls applies in certain areas, depending on the location of your retaining wall. According to the ‘Highways act 1980’…

“This section applies to any length of a retaining wall, being a length — any cross-section of which is wholly or partly within 4 yards of a street; and which is at any point of a greater height than 4 feet 6 inches above the level of the ground at the boundary of the street nearest that point;

but does not apply to any length of a retaining wall erected on land belonging to any transport undertakers. So long as that land is used by them primarily for the purpose of their undertaking or to any length of a retaining wall, for the maintenance of which a highway authority is responsible.”

You can read the full act here

As we can see, the laws only come into effect if the retaining wall is within 4 yards (3.66 m) of a street, and a greater height than 4 foot 6 inches. Outside of this, if your retaining wall is more than 1 metre high and within the aforementioned distance of a street, or if the retaining wall is more than 2 metres high, it must have planning permission.

Planning permission enables your plans to be reviewed by the local planning authority. It ensures that your plans are compliant with building regulations, which would make sure the build is safe and not a hindrance to the local area.

What happens if I ignore retaining wall laws?

Ignoring the laws regarding retaining walls will lead to issues further down the road. At some point, it will become apparent that you constructed a structure without planning permission, or in violation of retaining wall laws.

The consequences of this can vary, but the likelihood is that a fine, and an order to demolish or remove the structure, will be enforced. There is still a chance you can re-erect the structure, but it would only be possible through the correct and long-established legal channels.

Why are their laws on retaining walls?

The laws on retaining walls exist to protect others. As the laws state, a certain distance must be in place for a retaining wall that is by a street. It must also be approved beforehand, if this didn’t exist, there is every chance that a poorly built retaining wall can collapse and cause issues on public roads etc, as well as injure passers-by.

Do you have to use a professional for a retaining wall?

Do you have to use a professional for a retaining wall?

No. As long as you have the required planning permission, you can undertake the construction of the retaining wall yourself if you choose. As long as it sticks to the plan outlined when you submitted your planning permission.

If you are going to install a retaining wall yourself, here are a few factors you would need to organise yourself.

  • Materials for the retaining wall.
  • Equipment/machinery to help construct the retaining wall.
  • Organising the time to do the work.
  • Preparing binders such as cement, or placing Interlocking Concrete Blocks if you decide to use them instead, or measuring, cutting and nailing wood.

Is it better to have professional help with a retaining wall?

Yes. Absolutely, although it means spending more money, the reality is that you are getting professional assistance. By using a professional, you have peace of mind knowing that your retaining wall will be built quicker by people with experience who will ensure there are no issues.

If there are issues during construction, they will inform you and work to find a solution with you, as long as they are reputable builders.

What is the best block to use for a retaining wall?

Our Interlocking Concrete Blocks can be used to create a retaining wall. Our Interlocking Concrete Blocks can be interlocked with each other without the need of binding agents.

Once our blocks are interlocked, they receive an increase in structural integrity, as the already heavy blocks gain a wider centre of gravity that is more evenly distributed. This makes it difficult to affect via the weight of a retaining wall’s contents.

Furthermore, the nature of concrete itself allows it to be a long-lasting and weatherproof option. Clearly, our Interlocking Concrete Blocks are a serious option to consider for your retaining wall. But just so you know, they can be used for so much more.

Additional uses of Interlocking concrete blocks

Here is a list of some of the uses that Interlocking Concrete Blocks can facilitate.

  • Material Storage bays
  • Blast walls
  • Salt stores
  • Crash protection
  • Push walls
  • Security barriers
  • Segregation bays, i.e. recycling centres
  • Retaining walls
  • Industrial buildings
  • Fire breaks
  • Counterweights
  • Roadblocks

What are the advantages of interlocking concrete blocks?

  • Longer lasting and more durable than a Gabion basket
  • Quicker and less hassle to install
  • No need for mortar, saving you money and time
  • No need for steel reinforcement or shuttering
  • Resistant to extreme weather conditions
  • Fire-resistant properties, mitigating the spread of fire depending on the structure
  • Little maintenance required
  • Often, no foundation is needed before installing
  • Sound resistant
  • Sustainable
  • Ability to stack them upon each other
  • Flexibility in sizes
  • Appropriate for temporary and/or permanent buildings
  • Unlikely to be displaced due to the interlocking function

Where to start with retaining walls

What can be used for a retaining wall?

As an established supplier all over the UK, PPC Concrete Products is always happy to help, which is why we encourage you to get in touch with any questions you may have or have a look at our FAQ.

In this blog, we hope to have clearly answered the question ‘What is the law on retaining walls in the UK?’, whilst also providing additional information including construction solutions that we offer.

Take a read of our case studies to truly understand how we have provided solutions for business in the past with the use of our interlocking concrete blocks, and ultimately, how we can help you today.

Read our blog page for more insights into our passion, construction.


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Tel: 01706 655245

Email: info@ppcconcreteproducts.co.uk

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