Garden Grabbing To Be Curbed
Decentralisation minister Greg Clark is giving local councils immediate powers to prevent the building of new homes in back gardens, which has been on the rise in recent years.
Town halls have struggled to stop the trend as gardens have been classified as ''previously residential land'', making them brownfield sites in the same category as derelict factories and old railway sidings.
Mr Clark said he would be changing the designation of gardens from brownfield land to make it easier for local authorities to stop unwanted development, allowing them to reject planning applications for new houses and blocks of flats that local people oppose and which would ruin the character of the area.
The step, which he said would not affect people who wanted to build extensions on their homes, was welcomed by garden and wildlife organisations.
The move to stop garden grabbing, promised in both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat manifestos ahead of the general election, is the latest by the Government to implement coalition pledges to hand more power to local communities.
Mr Clark will said: ''For years the wishes of local people have been ignored as the character of neighbourhoods and gardens have been destroyed, robbing communities of vital green space.
''It is ridiculous that gardens have until now been classified in the same group as derelict factories and disused railway sidings, forcing councils and communities to sit by and watch their neighbourhoods get swallowed up in a concrete jungle.
''I am changing the classification of garden land so councils and communities no longer have their decisions constantly overruled, but have the power to work with industry to shape future development that is appropriate for their area.
''This is just the start of wholescale reform I want to make to the planning system, so councils and communities are centre-stage in a reformed system that works for them, and is not just a tool of top-down policy.''
The Royal Horticultural Society, which warned at the Chelsea Flower Show last month that gardens were under threat from development, said it welcomed any measures that would protect the ''vital resource''.