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    DCLG: inappropriate residential garden development due to lack of council policies

    On 19 January 2010, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) published its investigation into residential development on gardens in England.

    “Garden grabbing” has become a contentious issue for both councils and those living in residential areas. Gardens are generally regarded as brownfield land and are therefore good sites for developers as there are likely to be less issues such as contamination. The DCLG investigation was undertaken in response to concerns that the number of garden developments has increased and become a significant issue for local planning authorities (LPAs). Key findings from the investigation include:

    • There is no universally agreed definition of garden land between LPAs and therefore it was difficult to assess the true scale of garden development.

    • Only a third of respondents considered garden development to be a national concern. However, it was of greater concern to LPAs with high development pressures who were unable to keep up with the increased workload associated with investigating garden development.

    • PPS3 Housing, the document used by LPAs when considering garden site applications, was considered by LPAs not to help them to resist garden development.

    • Few LPAs monitor and hold information on types of housing development and therefore it is difficult to track garden development in specific areas, especially if no local development policies had been put in place.

    Following the investigation, Housing and Planning Minister, John Healey, has announced that he will be strengthening national policy advice to make it clearer that garden land is not necessarily suitable for development and that decisions to stop building on it should be taken at a local level.

    Practical Law 23.1.10