Thursday, May 25, 2006

Garden Grabbing

A second story from The Times today is particularly relevant to the Thanet experience.

“Up to 20,000 new homes each year that ministers claim are going up on brownfield sites are actually being built in back gardens, figures show.

“Garden grabbing” now accounts for 15 per cent of all new housing as family homes in towns and suburbs are pulled down by developers and replaced with flats.”

Homeowners, especially those with large gardens, are frequently targeted by developers who make extravagant offers with the intention of building flats on the site.

Because the Government has classified homes and gardens as brownfield sites, there is always a presumption that planning applications should be approved at appeal

Although neighbours usually object, - remember Sea Tower in Westgate - local authorities are reluctant to turn down planning applications for flats because time and again they lose on appeal when the developers take the case to the department.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I looked for a house in Westgate with a decent sized back garden, of course not many houses there were built with large gardens as they were mostly late Victorian and were built often as summer homes for Londoners.
However - and this was 10 years ago - almost all the houses with large gardens near the seafront which were affordable to me had had bungalows built in their gardens.
There are some lovely houses and gardens right on the seafront in West Bay but they must be an astronomical price. You don't often see a for sale board on them.

Anonymous said...

The council seem to give planning consent to any project which will bring in more rates than the previous patch, so Sea Tower example is one point in question I am sure when built the plot will look awful but will bring in loads more rate than the original building.
Listed building are not exempt, I know of two cases in Thanet where listed building have been pulled down, the fine was paid, then some short time later planning permission given to put up flats. More rates generated.The look of Thanet will have changed beyond all recognition in 20 years. Planning dept do not give a dam about the heritage, past or any of that, just money.

Anonymous said...

10:26AM Thats interesting. Where were they?

Anonymous said...

Personally, I have no objection to allowing infill within towns to build houses; it is preferable to covering green field sites in estates. However, to categorise a large garden ( with perhaps a rich environment for wild life and birds) as a 'brownfield' site comparable to the Old Gas works in margate is clearly nonsense. Surely a special category would not be too difficult to implement thus allowing Planning Authorities to make sensible decisions without developers being able to go over their heads automatically?

Dave Chamberlain said...

It's worth noting that firstly, development can only take place within the local plan's settlement boundary defined by the proposals map. Secondly development outside of the current settlement boundary to expand the boundary to encapsulate more land is a lobbying exercise that can take a long time to complete and not something smaller developers have the muscle to do. Thirdly, people are concerned that greenfields are being concreted over, though I'm sure the flying Doctor can tell from the air this isn't the case, only upto 12% of the land in the UK is urbanized, therefore if you can't build outside the settlement boundary one has to build in it which means garden plots and knockdown and rebuilds, the latter I especially support as we have the oldest housing stock in Europe. The UK has never before had the number of houses we have whose age is over a hundred years and which were designed for Victorian families. Whilst a lot of them retain their structural integrity a lot do not! Very often houses which were built on mineral sources (gravel for instance) had the mineral excavated for profit and replaced with rubbish, animal carcasses, vegetable matter etc which was allowed to decompose before building proceeded. If one reads the Victorian House by Judith Flanders in it she refers to how the Transactions of the Sanitary Institute of Great Britain despaired at how housing then was all show with grand mantle pieces, showy grates and wall paper yet the floors were at all angles and walls sunk, the roofs sagged and damp rose and water entered via the roof. Time to rebuild? If you're interested in modern design look at http://www.fabprefab.com.

Anonymous said...

Goodness me Dave Chamberlain, I am so happy with my Victorian house (which must prove the exception to the rule) in gruesome Harold Rd Cliftonville.
Built on chalk, no subsidence, 110 years old, solid 13 inch brick walls, good roof - renewed once in 100 years, no rot, no woodworm, no damp!
Shame about the adjoining neighbours where a house the identical size as my single family residence has been converted into 6 small flats for the housing benefit claimant dysfunctional drug addict criminal tenants.

Dave Chamberlain said...

My point is people think old is good and it's not always the case. Builders bodged jobs as much as today and often more so. A house close to mine built on chalk has a big crack down the gable end caused no doubt by movement. I'm sure the day will arrive where developers buy up whole streets and neighbourhoods as witnessed in the north of England with 2 up 2 downs, pull them down and rebuild. Sometimes it just happens to be more economic for everyone concerned. The major problem with modern housing is it doesn't breathe, is so well insulated damp becomes a problem and irritates Asthma and the like. The problem with building on redundant gas works and old industrial sites is the clean up costs a lot of money. Development companies are businesses and if the figures do not stack up they will not develop a site. These are the same businesses which for instance pension providers invest in. Doubtless that sort of site will attract social housing and it will be people at the lower end of the income scale who are effected by residual pollutants which do remain in the ground. Selling off council housing was in my mind a mistake, better to have taught people some creative accounting techniques and money raising ideas to get on the property ladder as opposed to the short term political gain selling council housing which benefited the government of the day.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I can't disagree with anything you say.
Just out of interest - I have had a few Victorian houses and most were economically built, no better than they had to be, and the builders used every last scap of available materials in the construction, bits of rubble, odd bits of timber, as long as it didn't show.
I always found it interesting to look at skirting board, planed on just the outside, and still as sawn on the inside.Must have saved just a penny or two.
But there's still a lot of those old houses in pretty good condition. No sick concrete or asbestos in them, and they are easy and cheap to restore.

Dave Chamberlain said...

Fair comment! I actually live in a Victorian house too! I bought it as it had the advantage of size over it's modern day counterpart. A new roof had been fitted, brickwork repointed, it had been well maintained and I liked some of the internal fixtures. I previously had a 3 bed 1 reception house in Horsham and bought a 3 bed 2 reception, with games room, utility room & an office and a garage in Thanet for the same price as the modernish house I moved from. It's interesting to note how the bricks on the gable end (the end one sees when coming up the road) are quality but go round the back and they are by far inferior hence the repointing!) Fortunately with modern housing the sick concrete and asbestos of the 50/60s has gone. The only asbestos in my old house (built in 78) was a sheet under the boiler. All the best-DC.