Government figures provided to Tory MP Greg Clark showed 22% of new homes are now built on previously residential land – which includes gardens – compared to 11% in 1997.

The Tunbridge Wells MP has long campaigned against so-called garden grabbing and introduced a private members bill in 2006 aiming to close a loophole in planning laws which classifies gardens as brownfield sites.

Figures provided to Mr Clark following a parliamentary question show that in the south east, almost a third of new homes were built on previously residential land in 2006, compared to 16% in 1997. In London, the figure is 29% – up from 13% a decade earlier.

Mr Clark said the figures proved more gardens are being bulldozed under Labour, destroying the amount of green space in urban areas.

“Ministers have ruthlessly exploited the absurd situation in which gardens are classified as brownfield land,” he said.

But Labour said only a small amount of the sites classified as previously residential land are actually back gardens.

Housing minister Ian Wright said: “These figures include the replacement of rundown houses and estates.”

Garden grabbing was also a focus of new London Mayor Boris Johnson’s election campaign.

He told edie: “It is essential that we retain all the glorious green space that we are lucky to have in London.

“This requires a new approach. I will amend the London Plan to protect domestic gardens from being lost to new build as well as ensuring that no development takes place on green belt and Metropolitan Open Land.”

Kate Martin

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