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'Stop back garden development'.

The use of garden space for development is leaving a "malign environmental legacy" the Government was warned by a senior Midland MP yesterday.

Tory Caroline Spelman said laws must be drawn up to reduce the amount of gardens being bought and built on by developers.

The Meriden MP said instead of building on brownfield sites, developers were targeting back garden sites.

She said: "The impact has been disastrous on the environment, the infrastructure and people's quality of life."

She added: "Gardens are a valuable source of bio-diversity, a haven for wildlife and play a critical role in the balance between the built and natural environment. Gardens being concreted is leaving a malign environmental legacy."

Ms Spelman was introducing her Land Use (Garden Protection) Bill which would allow councils to close a loophole making it harder for developers to build in gardens.

Garden areas are more valuable because "garden sites tend to be in areas of higher real estate value and the end result is two-bedroom flats created at a price way beyond that of first-time buyers," she said.

Ms Spelman said building on expensive gardens was ensuring the need for affordable homes was not being met.

But Labour's Denis MacShane (Rotherham) said the Bill ran contrary to the need to build more houses. It was "centralising" as it would hand power to authorities and dilute people's power to sell property. The Bill was given an unopposed first reading.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 19, 2008
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