Brownfield regeneration laws exploited by 'garden grabbers'

Local councils have been given new powers to stop developers exploiting laws meant to regenerate brownfield sites to build homees in gardens.

A change in the law at the turn of the century meant applications going through local planning committees were eased if they were on brownfield land.

This was aimed specifically at regenerating former industrial land, disused railway sidings or rundown areas.

However, until today (June 9) gardens counted as brownfield - as development had already taken place around them - and so developers found building on the land was easier and cheaper than in other locations.

This gave rise to a phenomenon known as 'garden grabbing' where a home owner would sell part of their garden and a new home would be built on it.

According to the government between in 1997 one in ten houses was built on a former garden by 2008 it was one in four.

But, decentralisation minister Greg Clark plans to take gardens out of the brownfield category.

Speaking today (June 9) he said: "Today 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."

Mr Clark also said he would scrap the minimum density target, with the aim of 'handing power back' to town halls and local communities to decide what new homes are best for their area.

He added: "It's ridiculous 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."

Luke Walsh


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