New Moves to Ban “Garden Grabbing”


‘Not in my back yard’ takes on a new and literal meaning today, following the announcement of new measures to curb the practice known as ‘garden grabbing.’
Garden grabbing is the term given to the practice of selling a section of a residential garden to property developers or of demolishing an existing house in order to build multiple dwellings on the remaining site. Local councils are being given immediate powers to prevent this happening where there is community opposition.
Until now, such developments have come under the same ‘brownfield’ category as derelict factories and disused railway sidings. This has meant that it can often prove difficult for town planners to block these developments, regardless of any objections that may be raised. Decentralisation Minister Greg Clark has just announced plans to take gardens out of the brownfield category, making it easier for local authorities to withhold planning permission.
According to government figures, the proportion of new houses built on previously residential land such as gardens rose from one in ten to one in four between 1997 and 2008. Any curb of this trend will be popular with environmental groups, which see gardens as providing much needed breathing space and havens for wildlife.
However, the moves are unlikely to impress anyone seeking to raise funds by selling what is currently residential land to developers.
Anyone who is in the process of developing existing residential land, or is thinking of doing so, should seek immediate advice on the legal consequences of this change in policy.

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