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Garden space is disappearing, warn campaigners

They say a legal loophole needs closing

More than 200 acres of garden space will disappear in the time it takes for a parliamentary Bill aimed at halting the practice to return to the Commons, campaigners have warned.

Garden Organic, an organisation at the forefront of the Save Our Gardens campaign, warned that many more gardens would be wiped out before the Land Use Bill goes back to the Commons for its postponed Second Reading in October.

The Bill was due to be debated last month but was delayed under the Commons procedure rules.

It calls for the removal of gardens from the definition of brownfield land, a legal loophole that protestors say property developers across the country are exploiting at an alarming rate.

Garden grabbing

The practice known as ‘garden grabbing’ happens where builders snap up large detached houses with big gardens, knock them down and then squeeze a small estate of new homes on to the same plot.

Garden Organic warns the practice is reaching epidemic proportions in suburbs across the country, eroding Britain’s green spaces and creating housing density in urban areas.

Dr Susan Kay-Williams, chief executive of Garden Organic said: ‘The postponement of the Bill is of great disappointment to everyone involved in the Save Our Gardens campaign, as well as residents up and down the country.

‘The figures go to show just how fast gardens are being swallowed up by property developers hell bent on making a fast buck.

‘In recent weeks we have seen flash flooding right across the country, mainly in urban areas. It’s no secret that gardens play an important part in helping to soak up rain water but if we continue to cover gardens with concrete and tarmac then rain water simply has nowhere to go.’

Second reading

The Land Use Bill returns to the Commons for its postponed second reading on October 19.

Garden Organic said it is encouraging the public to write to Housing Minister Yvette Cooper to call for an end to gardens being defined as brownfield land and to close the legal loophole which allows garden grabbing to happen.

A downloadable letter template is available from www.saveourgardens.org.uk.

Earlier this year, Garden Organic predicted that green space equivalent to 2,755 Wembley football pitches would be wiped out by 2016 if garden grabbing is allowed to continue.

It also discovered that almost a quarter of new homes built in the UK are on land that was formerly a garden and that the average plot size is shrinking by almost 3 per cent per year.

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