The traditional paved and solid driveway could be banned under the new restriction from the government, aiming to improve river pollution in the UK.

The government now requires homeowners to show a sustainable (SuDs) drainage system in their plan for a new or replacement driveway if over 5m2.

This will help to reduce the negative effects caused by flood events, not to mention the situation could worsen with research conducted by Oxford University and the Royal Meteorological Institute showing that “climate change increases the probability of heavy rains”.

Table of Content:
1. Problems With Impermeable Paving
2. British Water Pollution
3. Paved Driveway
4. Sustainable Alternative: Permeable Paving
5. Summary

Problems With Impermeable Paving

Solid paving reply solely on drains since it is stopping water to soak into the ground. On rainy days, where an excessive amount of water goes down the drain, this can potentially cause the sewage systems to overflow.

During the conversation between junior environment minister Rebecca Pow and The Telegraph about the Clean River campaign, she mentioned that the new rules would ease the pressure for local sewage networks.

The implementation would also raise the percentage of sustainable surfaces and reduce large scale paving.

Large scale paving might be appealing, but it is often made to outdated non-permeable spec to bring the budget down; it also reduces green spaces.

Image credit: Mirror

“We need to have semi-permeable membranes on our driveways rather than Tarmac so that rainwater doesn’t rush away but soaks in,” Rebecca Pow said.

Another way that has been considered by the parliament is to create ponds to soak the water into the ground, instead of diverting it to the sewage, causing an overflow.


British Water Pollution

Heavy rains are becoming more common, properties with a paved driveway in front of the house will redirect all those excess water to the sewage since they are unable to soak into the ground. The problem is most urban sewage systems were not built to handle excessive rainwater.

Sewages have a high risk of overflow and leading to drainage problems and contaminating their surroundings.

An interactive map on Surfers Against Sewage that tackles real-time sewage overflow and daily pollution risk forecasts, made by the Environment Agency, NRW and SEPA.

It covers 200 locations including rivers and streams across the UK to monitor their water quality.

“Citizen science water quality monitoring reveals that 75% of river mouth locations monitored, flowing directly onto or close to bathing waters, were routine of such poor quality that they posed a constant and serious risk to human health.” Surfers Against Sewage reported.


Paved Driveway

Driveways are used to park your car, but it is still part of your house. An aesthetic driveway can enhance your property massively and potentially increase your house value.

Over time, the industry has developed so many ways with different materials to bring driveway designs to life. And paved driveways are one of the popular options for the lower price, easy and quick installation.

The common disadvantage, unfortunately, is the permeability. Paved driveways block water from penetrating the surface for drainage, therefore, the new rule will reject this planning for front gardens.

Examples of paved driveway materials.


Image credit: Drive ways by Design

Tarmacadam is a mixture of crushed stone, tar, and sand; most of the time, it will be in plain black, but there are multiple colours on the market. Installing a tarmac driveway is as simple as it looks since there are no patterns to worry about. Although the installation can be quick, tarmacadam is still strong and reasonably long-lasting.

According to the budget examples, tarmac driveway costs can vary, a brand new one is pricier for a  quality finish. Tarmac has the ability to overlay on an existing driveway, it would bring down the cost massively (giving the existing driveway is in good condition).


Pattern Imprinted Concrete

Image credit: Cedarscape

Pattern Imprinted concrete modifies a plain concrete surface to be decorative and more interesting with a wide range of colours and patterns to choose from. To get a good, finished surface, the application needs to be performed at an ambient temperature and moisture level.

If the temperature is too low, the water might freeze in the concrete mix, mess up the moisture level and strength; too hot might dry up concrete mix too fast before full-colour application, resulting in inconsistent colour surface; lastly, too wet could leave ‘pot mark’ on the surface and wash away the colour.


Sustainable Alternative: Permeable Paving

The new rule intends to develop more permeable surfaces in the domestic area to reduce the water pollution caused by overflow sewages.

A sustainable driveway is a combination of a good sub-base and permeable surface. At EcoGrid, we provide high-quality EcoGrid as the sub-base and finished driveway. Choose from different sizes and styles, depending on the project.

Pick the most suitable EcoGrid can benefit from comfortable, cost-effective, long-lasting permeable paving.


Grass Grids

Create a front garden that can handle cars parked on it daily.

The grass ground itself is not strong enough to support the weight of the car, it needs to be reinforced by EcoGrid to avoid cars pressing the soil and leaving ruts.

Once the grass is fully grown, it can hide the grids pretty well, you can also choose to use green EcoGrid to make the grid even harder to spot on the ground.



Grow different plants
Because the grids are filled with soil, you can grow various plants, not just grass. Don’t plant anything too tall, since you are still driving the car on top, it might bend the plant. Unless it is somewhere the car will highly be unlikely to drive past, like on the edge.

Surround by nature
If you don’t live in the countryside, yet wish to have more greenery around you, then bring the countryside to you. Create urban green spaces at your property and enjoy a higher air quality.



Takes time to grow
If you spread the plant seeds after the grids have been filled with soil, you won’t be able to see the whole picture since plants take time to grow.

To solve this part, you can purchase pre-grow grass grids.

Slight maintenance required
Although the grids are there to strengthen the ground and stop soil compaction, it doesn’t stop the grass/plants to grow; they might need a bit more water on a hot day.


Gravel Grids

Like grass driveway, but instead of soil, you fill the grids with gravel. We recommend using MOT Type 3 aggregates because it is an approved granular sub-base; imposed by SuDS (Sustainable Drainage Systems) legislation for permeable surface construction; helping the drainage system run smoothly.


Well-contained gravel
If loose gravel is “Gravel Driveway 1.0”, then gravel grids would be “Gravel Driveway 2.0”. The grid will hold the gravel in place, so they won’t spread to the road or secretly hide on the lawn; and reinforce the ground at the same time.

Loose gravel was used in a lot of traditional gravelled driveways due to the simplicity to install, low-priced and widely available materials. The downside is that the ground can get uneven since the gravel can be spread easily, is unable to perform on a slope; and is not friendly for the disabled (eg. Wheelchair)

Granted that you really like the feel of a traditional gravelled driveway, you can always overfill the grids to mimic the style yet have the benefit of a free drainage system.

Higher weight loading capacity
Gravel filled grids have a higher weight loading capacity, meaning the ground can take up heavier vehicles (Weight loading capacity vary from the type of grid).



Cost more
The ground needs to be reinforced by laying a layer of grids, which would increase the cost, compared to a loose gravel driveway.


Permeable Concrete Block Paving

Permeable block paving is laid on top of a sub-base with interlocking between blocks to strengthen the driveway, along with letting surface water drain through the joints.

The front of the house doesn’t have to be plain grey ground that only has one function: parking. Could this be what you are looking for?



Variety of colour and patterns
The block paving market has developed significantly since the 1980s when it first got popular. There is more inspirational design to choose from, and the wide range of colour and material selection allows us to achieve more complex and innovative ideas.

Easily adjustable
After a flawless installation, you realised you need to access underneath the paving again (i.e. Pipes). Don’t panic! The blocks can be moved and reinstalled without hassle.



Sub-base influence
Although sub-base is a very important step for ground reinforcement, it has a big effect on concrete block paving. A poor installation can cause the blocks to sink or move around.

Permeable block paving is usually a more expensive option.


Resin Bound Stone

This is more for the finished look at the end of the installation. Generally, you construct the driveway as a gravel grid until you have filled the grids fully with gravel. Instead of adding extra loose gravel to create a traditional gravel driveway look, or picking a suitable gravel colour at the beginning, you apply a layer of resin bound stone on top to cover the grids.



Tidy finish
Resin bound stone can be placed to the edge, leaving no gaps to create a sharp edge and smooth surface.

Easy to fit
Simply choose your preferred aggregates, mix them with provided resin and apply with a plastering trowel.

Environmentally friendly
We are aware that there might be other alternatives that can create similar patterns such as tarmac or shredded rubber. However, they are not very good for our environment.



Not suitable for heavy vehicles
Although the grids might be able to handle more weights, we would still recommend no large vans over resin installations.

Lack of supply
Resin might not always be available to purchase, so check in advance if you can wait.



The new rule brings the sewage issue into the spotlight, more attention from domestic would help develop more environmentally friendly surroundings.

More sustainable driveways mean cleaner rivers and better water quality. There is always a better solution in the market that we can use to contribute to making the world a better place.