Monday, August 28, 2006

Labour's Garden Grab

Freemantle's Conservative Councillors have given their support to a new national campaign to protect local gardens from being concreted over and stop the over-development of local neighbourhoods.

Under planning rules introduced by John Prescott, gardens around homes are no longer classed as green space.

Councils must now follow rigid Whitehall guidelines demanding that new developments cram in as many buildings as possible. We saw this recently with the Woolston Vosper Thorneycroft development, where 1510 homes were given planning permission, of which on 73 were family houses. The rest were flats.

As a result of these Governmement planning rules, local communities and local councillors are increasingly powerless to stop suburban gardens being ripped up and the plots replaced with soulless blocks of flats. Labours planning rules are making it more expensive to buy a family home, whilst pokey flats often lie unwanted and unsold.

Further planning regulations on the horizon threaten to make the problem even worse, and the Labour Government is spending taxpayers money on proposals for urban densification which could even involve the compulsory purchase of gardens by state bureaucrats. Whitehall tax inspectors are also drawing up plans for the forthcoming council tax revaluation, and Gordon Brown is intending to levy higher local taxes on houses with home improvements, conservatories, patios or attractive gardens.

The new Conservative campaign calls for local people to be given a greater say on planning decisions, for communities to be able to protect the character of their local neighbourhoods and garden space, and for more affordable family homes to be built with gardens and sufficient parking spaces.

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