Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Wednesday, 9 June 2010


It's not strictly speaking 'in' my back yard -in fact it's just a few feet away from it - but the Tavern's garden may soon be overshadowed by a two-storey house as our neighbour cashes in on a 'garden-grab'.

We were Prescotted two years ago*, when, despite unanimous and vociferous objections from surrounding householders and the Parish Council, a neighbour secured planning permission for a 4-bedroom house in his distinctly modest garden. So far, he's not acted on it - thanks to a timely recession.

All the 'opportunities' to object - letters invited, a meeting to speak at - turned out to be empty pretence; the (Conservative) local council opposed the development but, two weeks later, the Regional Planning Officer arrived in his Jag for a cursory inspection, shook the applicant's hand and overruled the Council on the basis that it was a brownfield site.

Brownfield? Brownfield? The land was an apple orchard until the 1960s, when an estate was built; the applicant occupies a corner plot, bounded on two sides by red-brick Victorian houses. The new house will take up virtually the entire garden and closely overlook four neighbours as well as visually intruding into a conservation area.

Added to that, the site is at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac with no road access unless the existing garage is demolished, and every other householder in the Close objected on the grounds of increased traffic. How much is it worth to become a social pariah?

Reclassifying gardens is not enough - we need to be able to appeal against decisions made under the brownfield classification. Our area has already lost several large gardens, a sports club and the local allotments to high-density housing - let's hang on to what's left before it's too late.

*Like being shafted but with planning permission


  1. The number of small (but potentially significant) legislative changes announced so far is actually giving me a bit if hope...

    Perhaps now is the time to challenge the decision, if there are any avenues open to you?

  2. Remember that John Prescott's idea of great and wonderful housing developments came from East Germany. The money that he and his family trousered however came from your usual neighbourhood developers.

  3. Hey, you won't let people build higher density in towns and suburbs, and you won't let people build on The Hallowed Greenbelt. What are people supposed to do?

    NIMBYs are like people who go somewhere on holiday and then complain about all the tourists.

  4. MW, the back yard in question here is real; I'm talking about a large two-storey house which will completely overshadow my small garden - and offer its occupants an uninterrupted view straight into my kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

    I have no problem with well-planned new developments on open land; there is an excellent example near here - mixed-size housing built round a 'village green' playground.

    What I object to is the ruthless squeeze-'em-in mentality that results in 'executive developments*' being crammed into tiny sites purely to generate cash. End result - big, expensive houses with vestigial gardens and inadequate parking; hardly a worthwhile solution to the pressing housing problem.

    Meanwhile, the original owner pockets a fortune and goes off to live somewhere with an uninterrupted view.

    *Memorably defined by a friend living in one as 'Bugger-all garden and your en-suite looking straight into next door's kitchen'.