Would you trade in your garden for a communal space with neighbours?

PUBLISHED: 16:30 24 August 2020

How important is your garden to you? Picture: ARCHANT

How important is your garden to you? Picture: ARCHANT


How important is your garden to you? That’s the question being asked after it emerged some architects’ practices bidding for government funds to build new homes are urging the end to private gardens in urban developments.

Carole Jones, Planning portfolio-holder in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANTCarole Jones, Planning portfolio-holder in Ipswich. Picture: ARCHANT

They have suggested that instead of building homes with small private gardens, they should build townhouses with shared communal gardens – allowing residents more space although the area would not be private.

There have been suggestions that householders could “book” the garden for private events – but most of the time it would be a communal space which would also encourage neighbours to build a community spirit.

Proposals like this are included in two of six bids for a housing prototype scheme being promoted by the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

MORE: Who had the best lockdown gardens in Suffolk?

Suffolk Cabinet member Paul West. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNSuffolk Cabinet member Paul West. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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However in Ipswich the proposals did not win the approval of local councillors who would have to approve any final plans.

Ipswich Council’s portfolio holder for planning Carole Jones said that while the idea of communal gardens sounded good, there could be practical problems: “You would have to have set down some kind of management agreement to ensure that the garden met a basic standard – otherwise no would know what they had to do.

“I’m really not sure that would work here – people like to have their own private garden where they can grown what they like or do what they want. Some people want somewhere quiet to unwind, some people want somewhere for the children to run around out of the house.”

Suffolk County Council cabinet member for Ipswich Paul West said communal gardens were popular in some up-market and expensive developments in London – but did not think they were the answer elsewhere.

He said: “The experience of the last few months in lockdown has shown us how important private gardens are to so many people. During lockdown they were a sanctuary for people unable to leave their homes – you wouldn’t have that with a communal garden.

“And what about pets? Many families have pets and their importance has been clear for many living alone. How could you have them in a communal garden? I don’t think they’ll catch on here.”

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