Permeable driveway costs

Here are some average costs based on size/area and split between labour and materials.

Type of Surface Small 30m2 Medium 60m2 Large 90m2
Resin Bound £1,524-£2,400 £3,000-£4,800 £4,500-£7,200
Gravel £1,200-£2,400 £2,400-£4,800 £3,600-£7,200
Block paving £2,100-£3,000 £4,200-£6,000 £6,300-£9,000

What are the factors which influence the cost of a new permeable driveway?

  • The material you choose
  • The type of sub-base you install
  • Whether there is an old driveway to be removed
  • Skip and equipment hire
  • The slope or gradient on the driveway
  • Access to the site
  • Extras like edging or kerb stones and lighting
  • Where you live in the UK – cities are generally more expensive than rural areas and London and the Southeast have the highest labour charges

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What is a permeable surface?

A permeable surface is a material or membrane that allows liquid to pass through it. In the context of driveways, permeable materials usually permit water to soak through into a loose aggregate sub-base and drainage system beneath, although small driveways probably won’t need a drainage system.

The best permeable driveway surfaces


There are two types of resin driveway surface, one is permeable, and one is not. Their names are quite similar, so it is really important to get the right one.

Resin-bound driveways are permeable, but a resin bonded surface is not. So, what’s the difference?

Resin-bound surfacing is made from a blend of loose aggregate in which every piece has been coated with a clear, polyurethane resin. Think of this like coated gravel. Resin-bound surfaces have a smooth finish and no loose stones whilst still retaining the look of a traditional gravel driveway. It is a frost and weed resistant surface that requires little maintenance if correctly and professionally laid, although this will increase the overall permeable resin driveway cost.

Resin bonded surfacing is not permeable. It is made by sprinkling loose stones onto a coat of resin. It must be laid on a non-porous asphalt or concrete. Resin-bonded surfacing requires the installation of drainage and a soakaway to remove any rainwater from the driveway.


A loose aggregate driveway is still a very popular choice of driveway material and is also very economical to install. A gravel driveway complies with modern urban, sustainable drainage systems and is a natural porous surface that requires only a small amount of maintenance and has no real cleaning requirements.

There are large gaps between each individual piece of gravel which create a natural drainage system that allows rainwater to safely filter though into the soil below your driveway surface. There are downsides to gravel driveways, principally the loss of gravel over time as movement over the surface redistributes the stones creating bare patches and piles of gravel which can be hard to walk or drive over. This can be alleviated by using plastic grids. Also, gravel is not the easiest surface to walk on for some people who have mobility issues and for those pushing buggies or wheelchairs.

Block paving

Unless you add an impermeable sealant, block paving is a super choice when it comes to a permeable driveway material. The sand in the gaps between the blocks allows water to soak into the soil underneath the surface.

Block paving should be installed with a sub-base of permeable aggregate which will help protect your driveway from flooding. Block paving is very durable. It is essential to install a weed mesh or membrane to prevent grass growth and unwanted plants between the slabs.

Permeable block paving is visually appealing when compared to plain concrete but also provides more surface area for the rainwater to soak into the sub-base thanks to the gaps between the blocks. If the blocks are sealed, then they are easy to keep clean and have a high load-bearing strength for regular traffic and/or heavier vehicles.

What are the advantages of permeable driveway materials?

Permeable materials are more eco-friendly as they allow water to pass through into the soil naturally. This reduces flooding risk but also allows rainfall to behave as nature intended, passing through the subsoil into the layers below. This is called groundwater recharge.

One of the reasons towns and urban areas are prone to flooding is that there is nowhere for the water to escape to. More and more of the UK is being covered in an envelope of hard surface materials and so this has in itself increased the risk of flooding. Combine this with climate change and you have the perfect storm.

Driveways and block paving areas like patios made from permeable materials allow for rainwater harvesting plus sustainable urban drainage systems. They also prevent excessive run-off during severe weather events which can pool and cause damage to your driveway surface and even contribute to flooding inside your home.

The drawbacks of non-permeable driveway surfaces

Non-permeable driveway surfaces not only promote a build up of water during bad weather, but they often require more maintenance than a porous or permeable surface.

Non-permeable surfaces hold water until a higher temperature allows it to evaporate. This can result in your driveway being permanently covered in puddles which can freeze when the temperature drops and make it unsafe. Standing water will ultimately damage your driveway and can be hazardous to users particularly small children or elderly family members.

If you choose to install a non-permeable driveway, then you will require planning permission from the council. There may be conditions imposed upon the planning consent which could require the installation of a drainage system that discharges the water to a collection point or soakaway on your own land. If you choose a permeable surface, then there is no requirement for either planning permission or additional drainage unless you choose to harvest the rainwater for other uses.

Impermeable surfaces are harder to clean and any cleaning agents you do use and then wash off will be unable to drain away.

Over time, with no rainwater draining into the sub-layer below, the subsoil will shrink, and this can lead to cracks and splits forming on the surface of the driveway.

Other planning considerations

For a driveway with a permeable surface, planning permission is not usually required but check with your local planning department if you are unsure.

There can be other triggers for planning permission and one of these is the requirement for a dropped kerb. This may be a new dropped kerb, or it could be an extension to an existing one because you are making the current driveway wider. Even if the driveway does not require planning permission, the dropped kerb will, raising the permeable driveway cost.

If you have a listed house and/or one in a conservation area, then you may need consent for your new driveway under the listing’s regulations. These are mostly concerned with interference to the appearance of the house and the land around it which is also included under the property’s listing. There can be restrictions imposed on design and the choice of materials and sub-base.

Permeable driveway versus non-permeable driveway

Generally, permeable driveways are considered to be the better environmental option, but you may dislike the choice of surfaces available or the one you do like might be outside your budget.

Bear in mind that a non-permeable driveway material could result in the requirement for an additional drainage system and a planning application, all of which is money which could be put towards the permeable driveway cost.

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The best permeable driveway surface

The answer to this question depends upon your personal preference, what you like to look at and the style of your house, not forgetting your budget. There is enough of a choice of permeable driveway surfaces for everyone to find something to suit their taste and pocket.

If you live in a location which is prone to flooding, either because of the local climate or the geography surrounding your house or both, then you may want to consider both a permeable driveway surface and additional drainage for excessive run-off. Your driveway contractor should be able to advise you on this.

Checkout this time lapse video of a permeable driveway installation:

If you want to know more about permeable driveway costs per type, learn more about Resin, Asphalt and Gravel driveway costs.

For a driveway with a permeable surface, planning permission is not usually required but check with your local planning department if you are unsure.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is a permeable driveway essential?

If you have a flat driveway, then a permeable surface cover is essential to avoid flooding. It will also allow for an installation without planning permission; to use a non-porous or non-permeable surface would be in contravention of the new planning regulations which came into force in 2007. If you live in a part of the country or even a road where flooding has been an issue in the past, then a permeable driveway will help to disperse excessive rainfall and prevent standing water and ponding.

What does SuDS stand for?

SUDS stands for Sustainable Urban Drainage System and is part of the planning regulations which were introduced in 2007 to ensure that householders took responsibility for drainage issues on their own land and didn’t rely on discharging into the public drain. In 2007, the Pitt Review outlined the use of SuDS as a central tool to reduce flooding across the UK. In the 2019 National Planning Policy Framework, SuDS is one of the five key considerations in the provision of new developments when considering how to manage flood risk.

Is tarmac porous?

Standard tarmac is not permeable so is not suitable as a driveway material.

What happens if I use a non-permeable driveway material?

If you surface your driveway with a non-permeable driveway material, then you will need to apply for planning permission as well as make provision for the surface water run-off via a drainage system. If you have removed all the lawn and flower beds then a soakaway can be created underneath the driveway surface which will collect the water and filter it slowly down into the soil.

How do I choose the best driveway surface for my house?

Most people choose a new driveway surface based on personal preference which is to do with design and appearance and also cost. Once any potential drainage issues become apparent then this tends to cause a pause for thought. No householder wants their property to flood plus there are plenty of natural advantages in harvesting rainwater particularly with the extreme hot weather the UK is now experiencing. Ask your contractor for advice and get a driveway quote based on two or three different surfaces so you can compare the appearance and the cost”}”>permeable driveway cost.

What can I use harvested rainwater for?

Most people who gather rainwater use it for the garden and watering indoor plants. However, you can also use it to flush the toilet just by filling up the toilet cistern. This alone will save around 30% of the mains water used by the average UK household daily. You can also use rainwater for washing clothes; it doesn’t need to be treated as you would do if you wanted to drink it. Using rainwater for laundry rather than mains water will save on average between 39 and 53 litres per wash. You shouldn’t use rainwater for drinking or cooking because it is untreated and could cause infection or disease.

How can I lower the cost of a new permeable driveway?

Excavate the old driveway yourself, this will save on labour costs, but you will still need to hire a skip for waste disposal and possibly high-powered tools to break up the old surface. Choosing a cheaper surfacing material is another way to come in under budget or reduce the area you intend to cover.

Paul Robinson
Hi I'm Paul. After years in the mathematical field, I went on to help rescue a flooring and driveways company and spent 10 years building the company. I’m a property expert with extensive driveway and home improvement industry knowledge.
Mike Alexander

I’m Mike – writer and part-time home improvement expert at Refurbb. Since owning and refurbishing my own property in 2018, I’ve since been developing rental properties, writing about my home improvement endeavours, sharing what I’ve learned and connecting readers to reputable tradespeople in the UK. I’m also head of marketing and technical at Raindancer Ltd

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