Lichfield MP calls for changes to planning rules on gardens

Michael Fabricant MP

Michael Fabricant MP

Lichfield’s MP has called for more to be done to stop gardens being developed for housing.

Michael Fabricant asked the Housing Minister John Healey whether planning guidance could be tightened to empower local councils – and prevent gardens from being classified as brown-field sites.

In his question, the Conservative MP claimed “that councils such as Lichfield find that the city is changing shape simply by virtue of the fact that lovely open areas and big gardens are being redeveloped”.

The Minister replied:

“I do not accept that. Local authorities already have the power to take steps to prevent development on garden land, if they choose. They are also able to reinforce their position if the matter goes to appeal.”

But Caroline Spelman, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government then weighed into the debate, saying that Mr Healey was “in denial” and that “his policies give a green light for garden grabbing”.

The Minister replied that

“This is a problem in some areas, but they are clearly in the minority. It is also clear that councils have the powers to deal with such matters where they present a problem for neighbours and are unwelcome in the local area.

When pressed further on the issue, Mr Healey said that the problem is “councils that have the powers but will not accept the responsibility of taking the decisions to protect local people”, before suggesting that Caroline Spelman “would do better to address her concerns to her own councils, which are falling far short of what local residents expect of them”.

But Mr Fabricant believes that the Government needs to act to preserve cities such as Lichfield.

He explained:

“Despite the assertions of the Minister, I am told by Lichfield District Council that they do not have the discretion they would like to turn down inappropriate planning applications. The main problem is that gardens are designated as brown-field sites ripe for development. But a brown field site is supposed to be a disused industrial site or similar. Not a green garden.

“The law does need to be changed or Lichfield and similar towns and cities will lose their character over time.”

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