Wednesday, 9 June 2010
The Times reveals an interesting move by Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, in the so called small government coalition, to introduce new regulations to stop developers concreting over thousands of gardens. Measures to stop “garden grabbing” by property developers are to be announced today after growing concern about high-density housing. Developers sometimes buy up one family house and gardens and build flats or three homes on the same site. Residents have little success in blocking these developments because of the demand for social and private housing.
Private gardens are often the main victims of denser development in city and suburban areas as authorities come under pressure to build new homes. In future residential gardens will not be classified as “brownfield land” — or land that has already been built on — which has made it difficult for councils to refuse developments.
How very interesting in light of the government’s commitment to small government and not restricting the right of the individual to say have guns or make a shed load of money by building a multi-storey car park at the bottom of their garden. This surely will have the individual liberties nutters jumping up and down demanding to be able to build what they like on their gardens. After all if I buy a Grade 1 listed Tudor mansion and want to install a sunken Jacuzzi bath a lift and a heli-pad on the roof why should nanny state restrictions stop me?
Greg Clark, the Planning Minister (yes they have one, pictured), will also announce the abolition of minimum targets for the amount of housing in a given area, which has contributed to a mushrooming of homes. Under current stipulations at least 30 homes need to be built on every hectare of developed land, making it difficult for large-scale developers to get planning permission for bigger homes and gardens. This I admit seems sensible and will hopefully stop those ghastly housing developments where you can hear people going to the toilet in the next door house it is so close. But somehow I don’t think it will, after all the more houses you can cram on the more money is to be made.
Campaigners say the abolition of the density targets will end cluttering, ill-thought-out high rises and homes that are too small. Some planners have warned, however, that the combined decisions will lead to more development on greenfield land, which has never been built on. The Planning Officers Society has said: “If it’s garden grabbing out, then it may be countryside grabbing in.” In the past five years 180,000 homes have been built on gardens and land already containing a property.
A survey commissioned by the Communities Department earlier this year showed that garden grabbing is an issue for more than 40 per cent of councils but is concentrated in relatively few areas including the South East, London and the West Midlands. Aren’t these the heartlands of the small government lot? Surely it’s not a question of small government till my neighbour wants to build a nuclear power station in his garden and then its hurray for planning restrictions and petty fogging bureaucracy?