The “Hands off my back garden” campaign aims to prevent the phenomenon of developers buying up houses with large gardens then building over the back gardens.

As the profit made in such operations is substantial, the only way of curbing the concreting over Britain’s back gardens is to re-classify them as greenfield sites, thus affording them some protection from development, campaigners say.

But others have argued that cities becoming denser – which entails the re-development of back gardens – is the only alternative to urban sprawl and concreting over the countryside, given that much-needed new housing must be placed somewhere.

The Liberal Democrats, who have tabled a bill to remove gardens from the list of browfield sites, are taking the campaign to town centres across the country with the next gathering expected this weekend in Epsom, Surrey.

The Ten Minute Bill to re-define back gardens as greenfield land, introduced last month, will get a second hearing on June 15th 2007.

“It’s shocking that this is going on but it may only be the tip of the iceberg. Losing green space that is the equivalent of 2,755 Wembley pitches will have a devastating affect on many areas of life, not least the environment, children’s health and everybody’s quality of life,” said Greg Clark, Conservative MP for Tunbridge Wells.

Dr Susan Kay-Williams, chief executive of the Garden Organic charity which supports the campaign, said: “With over 15 per cent of new homes being built on previously residential areas and with building land in urban areas becoming harder to come by, the practice of garden grabbing isn’t going to go away and can only get worse.”

“We understand the need for more housing but it needs to be suitable for the local populace so that families and communities can have access to gardens.

“By giving the decision-making power back to local authorities, the needs and circumstances of local people can be taken into account.”

Garden Organic has launched an online petition to support the campaign. More information on the Hands off our back gardens campaign can be found here.

Goska Romanowicz

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