Back gardens losing out to homes

ONE fifth of new homes in Suffolk are built on land that used to be back garden space, new figures have revealed.Fears have been raised that “garden-grabbing” is leading to widespread overdevelopment of the county's towns and villages - and that councils are virtually powerless to do anything about it.

ONE fifth of new homes in Suffolk are built on land that used to be back garden space, new figures have revealed.

Fears have been raised that “garden-grabbing” is leading to widespread overdevelopment of the county's towns and villages - and that councils are virtually powerless to do anything about it.

Latest figures available - for 2005 - show that 20 per cent of previously residential land was used to build new housing.

In the Babergh district, the figure was as high as 36pc while 31pc of new houses in the Mid Suffolk and Suffolk Coastal districts were built on back gardens.

David Ruffley, the Conservative MP for Bury St Edmunds, said it was caused by a loophole in planning laws.

He said that because back gardens are classified as brownfield land - like a derelict factory or a railway siding - they are more likely to be developed.

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He said: “Suffolk residents have become seemingly powerless to prevent the overdevelopment of their local area because even if their local council sides with them, the Planning Inspectorate, which enforces Government policy, is likely to overturn the decision.

“Of course there is a need for more housing, especially affordable housing, but we need to give local people and local councils a much greater say in where this is built.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesperson said local authorities had suitable powers to turn down “inappropriate” housing developments in back gardens and were able to set policies to specifically protect gardens.”

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