A dropped or lowered kerb allows you to drive smoothly — and legally — from the road, over the pavement, and onto your driveway. If you’ve ever felt that hard jolt when your car’s mounted the pavement, then you’ll appreciate how they can make life easier for your car. They also have the potential to add value to your property.
Here, we’re going to take a look at all the issues surrounding dropped kerbs: their size, the laws surrounding dropping a kurb for a driveway in Birmingham, where to get permission and how much they cost. We’ll also look at some of the essential dos and don’ts too.
HOW BIG IS A STANDARD DROPPED KERB?
Generally, lowering a kerb in front of one property involves replacing five kerbstones: three flat ones framed by two angled ones. The wider the entrance needed (if it’s to cover two properties, for example), the more kerbstones will need replacing.
ARE THERE ANY LAWS ABOUT DROPPED KERBS?
If you need to lower the kerb outside your property, then it’s not as simple as hiring someone or breaking out your sledgehammer! As the pavement that needs altering is a public highway, you have to meet a series of criteria and gain specific permission before doing anything else.
Where the pavement is owned and maintained by the local council, they’re your first port of call. Each council has its own rules about lowering kerbs; if you’re reading this and you don’t come under Birmingham City Council, then see your local authority’s website for their own specifications.
If you do live in a Birmingham City Council area and want a dropped kerb for your property, then you’ll need to check you have the following:
- Room for a driveway of at least 4.75m (roughly 15’ 5”) in length. Cars are not allowed to overhang from your drive onto the pavement.
- A clear width of 2.75m (or 9’) at the entrance to your property
- A clear width of 4.5m (roughly 14’ 7”) at the edge of the kerb in front of your property.
HOW MUCH DOES A DROPPED KERB APPLICATION COST?
As of January 2020, the application costs £95 and is non-refundable. You can only get planning permission after submitting an application here at the Birmingham City Council.
CAN THE COUNCIL REFUSE A DROPPED KERB APPLICATION?
Yes. If you don’t meet your local authority’s width regulations, you can be refused permission for a dropped kerb. There are also other potential issues the council may factor in. If you live near a busy junction or corner, for instance, you may be refused permission. If dropping a kerb would disturb a healthy or preserved tree that’s not on your property, the local authority can also turn down your application.
If you rent your property either privately or from the council, you must have permission from the property owner or local housing officer.
It’s worth bearing in mind that, in some densely-populated areas, councils have considered relaxing their rules to ease parking problems, so it’s always worth keeping an eye on the situation.
DO I NEED PLANNING PERMISSION AS WELL?
If you get permission to drop the kerb in front of your property, you may still need extra planning permission before work commences. Some of the reasons for needing this are:
- The size and material of your driveway (for more information on this, see our piece on driveway planning permission)
- Your property is on a classified road (you can download a list of all the classified roads in Birmingham here)
- Your property is in a conservation area (find a list of Birmingham conservation areas here).
- Your property is sub-divided into flats/offices
- You live in a house in multiple occupations which has 7 or more rooms
- Your property is a commercial premises
HOW MUCH DOES A DROPPED KERB COST?
It depends. Once you’ve paid the £95 application fee and been successful, then Birmingham residents can expect to pay between £1400 and £3500 for admin and labour. If the job is a difficult one which requires cables, trees or other street furniture to be moved, you could pay up to £6000. If you have a disability, then you may be entitled to a discount.
One potential way of saving money is applying with a neighbour for a longer dropped kerb and splitting the cost. Other than that, there’s little room for manoeuvre as kerbs can only be dropped by contractors and suppliers approved by the council.
IS IT WORTH THE COST?
If you want a driveway on your property, then you need to have a properly-lowered kerb. In areas where parking is troublesome, this makes life easier and can add value to your property. We look at this in our piece on block paving driveways.
DROPPED KERB DOS AND DON’TS
Now we’ve found our way through all the rules and regulations, let’s round off with a few pointers.
- Ensure the front of your property meets your local authority’s dropped kerb size specs before applying – the application fee is non-refundable!
- Take a look at the public highway outside your property. Are there any trees, junction boxes, bins, or any other street furniture that might need to be moved to accommodate your new driveway?
- Consider splitting the cost with a neighbour if they’re also looking for a driveway
- Drop a kerb without getting permission; it’s against the law
- Use non-council approved companies to lower your kerb
- Have a driveway without a dropped kerb. As well as being bad for your car, it could also lead to legal trouble. It’s also not illegal for people to park in front of it, even if your car’s on the drive!