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Garden Grabbing

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Posted

At the moment, it is easy for developers to use Brownfield site planning regulations to build houses in back gardens of existing houses. As many threads in this Planning Forum show, it is very difficult for neighbouring residents to successfully challenge this through the planning appeal process.

In many places this back garden development is slowly changing the look and feel of Amersham.

A national report published on 19th Jan by Government Housing & Planning Minister John Healey calls on councils to use their powers to stop 'garden grabbing' (see - http://www.communities.gov.uk/news/corporate/1440002 ).

The report states that

Mr Healey promised action to head off any current or future problems by today strengthening national policy advice, to make crystal clear that previously developed land, which can include garden land, is not necessarily suitable for development, and that the decisions to stop unsuitable building on gardens rest at a local level. Mr Healey has today issued strengthened national planning guidance and instructed the Chief Planning Officer, Steve Quartermain, to write to planners across the country outlining how councils can identify and deal with garden grabbing through local plans, in turn giving them greater discretion to refuse inappropriate development.

The report also says that "Local authorities who are concerned about the loss of garden land should make it clear in their Local Development Frameworks what their position is. Currently only a few authorities (5 per cent of those authorities who reported an issue) have clear policies in place."

Chiltern is not yet one of these Councils.

Reading between the lines of this report, it seems the government recognises that in areas like Amersham, the 'Garden Grabbing' development is extremely unpopular. This policy then passes the decision back down to the local Council who have to make the decisions (so that the Government cannot be blamed). It should however give more grounds for "Garden Grabbing" planning applications to be challenged at a local level.

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Posted

A good find, Kevin. I for one will be contacting my local councillors to suggest CDC looks into this.

For anyone wanting to do likewise and who is unsure who or how to contact, start here: Who's my councillor?. You enter your postcode and it displays your councillors, from where you can click for contact details.

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Posted

A good find, Kevin. I for one will be contacting my local councillors to suggest CDC looks into this.

I've also sent a copy to all the individual members of the Chiltern Planning Committee. The more people that let the committe know how strongly we feel about this issue, the more likely it is to get formally incorporated into our local planning guidelines (which are currently under review).

One positive aspect of this guidance is that it should give the council extra ammunition to defend those "back garden" developments that get refused at council level, and then turned over when the developers take the case above the council's heads at the appeal stage.

I attended this week's planning committee meeting and it was striking how nervous the Planning Committee members were of the appeal process, and how not having a water tight case at a developer's appeal would lead to significant extra council costs.

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