Azara Blog: Gardens should not be classed as "brownfield"

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Date published: 2006/02/01

The BBC says:

Gardens must receive better protection from developers if they are to remain the "precious green lungs" of towns and cities, an MP has warned.

Tory Greg Clark said the government had to close a loophole which classed private gardens as "brownfield" sites, making them easier to build on.

A "domino effect" of selling to developers was ruining whole areas.

Mr Clark's Protection of Private Gardens Bill is unlikely to become law without government support.

The Tunbridge Wells MP said the government had announced that a record 72% of home building was on previously developed land known as brownfield sites.

But ministers had conceded they had no information about how much of that was actually on gardens.

Mr Clark said: "My bill is simple in its intent - very simple. It's to remove front and back gardens from the government's definition of brownfield sites of previously developed land."

He added: "If brownfield sites mean anything, it's about improving the condition of our towns and villages.

"It's about contributing to environmental progress, not changing and destroying the characters of these areas forever."

Gardens were "havens for wildlife, for insect life and bird life", cooled the air and helped fight pollution, Mr Clark said.

The local authority had little power to prevent development, while there was a "domino effect", as neighbours sold their properties to developers to prevent themselves being hemmed in by apartment blocks, he added.

Well this chap is obviously going nowhere in British politics, he seems far too sensible. In Cambridge you see garden after garden being built upon. But this is what most of the urban planning elite want: the people stuffed into urban rabbit pens with no green space except for state-controlled parks (which in Cambridge mostly just contain grass, so are hardly "green" in any meaningful sense). And it is not just private gardens that are ridiculously counted as "brownfield". Cambridge Airport is "brownfield" although it is as "green" as any Cambridge park (i.e. it is mostly grass). And Northstowe, the proposed huge new development between Longstanton and Oakington, is going to be placed on a disused air field. That of course is classified as "brownfield" although much of it is far more "green" (by almost any definition) than the thousands of acres of industrial agricultural land that surround it. (Parts of the site have been left to grow semi-wild and part of it seems to be temporarily used for agriculture.) This is what happens when the people who run the country are more interested in political showmanship than in substance, urged along in this case by people who push the "brownfield" agenda as allegedly environmentally friendly.

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