Drastic change in the rules over using gardens as ‘brownfield’ development sites
Question: I am in the process of acquiring a large house in north Leeds. The attraction is a large garden where we believe there to be sufficient space to build a couple of houses, one of which is to be for my mother-in-law.
Although our designs are at an early stage, I was concerned to hear about some emerging legislation that may make it harder for us to proceed with our build.
Can you explain what the changes are and whether it will have any impact on our plans? Answer: Until very recently, planning legislation stated that garden areas were to be considered as brownfield sites. This means they had priority for building on in a similar way to old industrial sites.
Over the last 10 years in particular, there has been a significant increase in the amount of development that has taken place in gardens, often to the detriment of the local area. It was difficult for councils to reject these planning applications as the brownfield status provided developers with a better chance of winning at appeal.
However, the recent announcement by the new Government changes the classification of garden areas allowing them to become greenfield sites. The situation has now therefore been totally reversed with a presumption against development.
Clearly this will make it significantly more difficult to obtain planning permission and allow Local Authorities a greater say on what developments are allowed safe in the knowledge they will not have to fight costly planning appeals.
Under this new policy I believe you have little chance of receiving planning permission. Allowing the redevelopment of a greenfield site will require the approval of elected members and for what is effectively a commercial development opportunity it is unlikely that their support will be forthcoming.
If your principal motive is the potential for developing out the site and you have not yet exchanged contracts, I urge you to reconsider purchasing the property.
Jonathon Wingfield is a director of Acanthus WSM Architects in Leeds.