An End To “Garden Grabbing”? – Not Quite

This week the Coalition Government announced that it was going to give powers back to councils to reduce “Graden Grabbing” – the practice of building new housing in existing gardens.

The Guardian explained it as follows:

The government is announcing new measures to stop the practice of “garden grabbing” which has seen swathes of urban green space swallowed up by new housing developments.
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The decentralisation minister Greg Clark is giving local councils immediate powers to prevent the building of new homes in back gardens, a practice on the rise in recent years.
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According to the communities and local government department, the number of houses being built on gardens rose from one in 10 to a quarter of new properties between 1997 and 2008.
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The problem is particularly acute in places including Guildford, Croydon, Southampton and the New Forest in the south-east, Poole and Dorset in the south-west, Sheffield and Solihull in the Midlands, Leeds and Wakefield in Yorkshire, South Tyneside in the north-east and Norwich.
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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.

However Chris Lumley has asked our local planners at Rochford District Council how much the rules have changed. The answer is : not very much, so far. There are just two real changes:

First of all, under Labour , new housing was supposed to be built at a minimum density of 30 units per hectare. That rule no longer applies.

Secondly, councils are encouraged to put new housing on previously developed ‘brownfield’ sites. Now that gardens are no longer classified as ‘brownfield’ sites, that will reduce any incentive for councils to rely on garden land for development sites.

But if you have a big garden and want to build a couple of houses in it, you will still be able to apply for planning permission. And if your proposal is properly designed, with adequate garden sizes, suitable parking places, no overlooking etc, you will probably still get permission.

  • Indeed Paul, sorry, should have given you a nod to your comment there.

    We will need to consider how many new homes and what kind of new homes we need to satisfy local demand.