I always notice when people get new fences put up around my neighbourhood. I like to see how they are constructed, good quality workmanship and any new ideas I can poach for my designs!
In the past few months, I've seen quite a few solid fences being constructed around my way. Lots of solid fences at 1.8m tall running right along the front of the section.
For new builds, the Unitary Plan is very specific on new front fences and walls, depending on your zoning. The following regulations are for the mixed housing suburban zone.
H4.6.14. Front, side and rear fences and walls
Purpose : to enable fences and walls to be constructed on a front, side or rear boundary or within a front, side or rear yard to a height sufficient to:
- provide privacy or dwellings while enabling opportunities for passive surveillance of the street
- minimise visual dominance effects to immediate neighbours and the street.
(1) Fences or walls or a combination of these structures (whether separate or joined together) must not exceed the height specified below, measured from the ground level at the boundary:
(a) Within the front yard, either:
(ii) 1.8m in height for no more than 50 per cent of the site frontage and 1.2m for the remainder, or
(iii) 1.8m in height if the fence is at least 50 per cent visually open. (b) Within the side and rear yards: 2m.
What I understand from this, is that it is important that we can still see what is happening at the front of our neighbours' houses, in a passive, non-obtrusive way. In Hauraki, where I live, there has been a recent increase in burglaries. It would be interesting to know if those poor homes targeted are more "hidden away" from the main streets than others.
I personally think that running a solid fence along the front of your home doesn't add street appeal. It looks unwelcoming and harsh, especially without some planting in front to soften it. The Unitary Plan refers to that as "visually dominating". Imagine what our neighbourhoods would look like if everyone ran a solid fence / wall across the front of their property.
My advice for anyone thinking of replacing their front fencing is to contact the Council to ensure that it is compliant or ask your fencing contractor to check for you. I would hate for people to spend a considerable sum building a fence, only to have someone from the Council request you to comply with the new regulations. Currently it seems a bit of a grey area whether the new fencing regulations apply to new builds only.
Finally, what this means for garden designers is that we are having to be really creative - which is great! Here is a design we did recently for the front of a client's property, where 50% of the front is solid, with the remaining 50% being visually open.
If you are thinking of redesigning the front of your property, we would be delighted to assist with a creative solution! Contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org