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We're talking here about a path or drive that runs along the side of a semi-detached or detached dwelling. The access might be shared with a neighbour and so the following solutions may require you to reach agreement and work together.
It is quite common to find an unrestricted access all the way to the backs of the houses where it ends at a single garden gate or vehicular gate to a garage or, where the drive is shared, to a pair of gates. The problem with this arrangement is that a thief can easily walk to the gates, climb over and get into your garden. At night this action is very unlikely to be seen from the street, as people will be having their dinner or watching TV. They are unlikely to be peering out of their windows.
Installing a new primary access gate
The solution is to install a new steel 1.8 metre tall gate in line with the front of the house or houses so that any attempt to climb over the gate is a lot more difficult and has a greater chance of being seen from the street. If the gate is higher than 2 metres or it immediately abuts the highway you will need planning permission, but it would be a good idea to speak to the planning people anyway, just in case there are local planning restrictions, such as living in a conservation area.
Each case will be different, but below are some considerations for the construction and installation of a pair of 2/3, 1/3 steel gates. Having one gate smaller than the other can make it easier for pedestrians to use them and may make it easier to install them should there be any obstruction on the house walls, such as rainwater pipes and central heating vents.
- The gates must be visually open to allow surveillance of the side drive from the street when the gates are closed
- Construct the gates from metal box steel of a gauge recommended by the manufacturer
- Ensure that the steel is treated to prevent corrosion
- The gates can be hung onto the house wall or to vertical posts set into the drive and fixed to the wall. The method of hanging will be determined by the weight of the gates and the condition of the house walls and is best decided by the installer. If the gates are very heavy wheels or castors may have to be fitted to the bottom of the gates
- The gates should be 1.8m tall and should have blunted rod protrusions on the top horizontal bar to make climbing more uncomfortable. Spikes are not recommended as they may cause injury to an innocent party (For example, a young child trying to retrieve a football)
- The gates should be designed to resist forcing and climbing and mid rails should not be used if at all possible
- The second opening gate should be bolted into the ground and then both gates should be secured together using a hasp staple and padlock (See Preventing theft from the garden , Padlocks ). An external corrosion resistant padlock certificated to BS EN 12320 security rating 4 should be sufficient, with the hasp and staple or padbar welded onto the gate
- Consider rubber stops fixed to the house walls to reduce the ‘clanging’ of the gates
- Before ordering the gates make sure that when they are in the open position yours or your neighbour’s car can easily pass through the opening
- The gates should normally open into the drive and must never open over the public highway
- Install devices onto the house walls to lock back the gates when opened or fit the first opening gate with a drop bar and then both can be bolted in the open position
- For daytime use consider fitting the smaller gate with a mortice latch or sash lock. Very narrow ones are available to fit inside metal box sections
- Fit an outside light above the gate to illuminate the driveway and highlight anybody trying to climb over the gate
Improving the existing side access gate
If it is not possible to install new primary access gates to the front of the drive then make sure that the existing gates into the garden are as secure as they can be. The following bullet points suggest what you could consider doing if you haven’t done so already.
- Try to achieve an overall height of 1.8m
- New gates can obviously be built to your specifications, but additional height can be achieved by topping the existing gates with timber trellis. Use a trellis that is strong enough not to be blown down in the wind, but one that will collapse if someone tries to climb over it
- These gates are best kept visually solid so that the thief cannot see what there is to steal from the garden
- Lock the gates using a padbar that has been bolted through the gate with coach bolts and padlock or, in the case of a double gate, with a hasp staple and padlock. Fit the leaves with drop bolts and a gate catch for convenient use during the day