Tories launch campaign to protect neighbourhoods

The Conservative Party is launching a national campaign to prioritise building family homes over one-bedroom flats and protect England’s gardens and suburban neighbourhoods from being concreted over and over-developed.

It says this initiative highlights Gordon Brown’s plans for new taxes on home improvements and gardens, and warns of the damaging effect of John Prescott’s planning regulations on the character of local neighbourhoods.

Under the new five-point plan, which will play a crucial part in the run up to Labour’s mid-term elections next May, Conservatives are pledging to protect back gardens, by changing planning rules to help conserve green spaces and maintain the character of local neighbourhoods.

It will also encourage more family homes to be built instead of poky flats, and remove Whitehall rules that are stopping new homes being built with sufficient parking and garden space.

Local communities will be given a stronger say on where new homes are built, and abolish unelected regional assemblies. It will also oppose plans for compulsory purchase of gardens.

Whitehall’s ongoing plans for a council tax revaluation will be canceled, inspectors’ powers of entry abolished , and new taxes being levied on home improvements and gardens will be stopped.

The Tories aim to help more people get onto the first rung of the housing ladder by extending support for shared ownership schemes and new flexible forms of home ownership.?
Under planning rules introduced by John Prescott, gardens around homes are no longer classed as ‘green space’.

Councils must now follow Whitehall guidelines demanding that new developments cram in as many buildings as possible.

As a result, suburban gardens are being ripped up and the plots replaced with blocks of flats without sufficient parking spaces, and damaging the biodiversity and sustainability of the local environment.

The planning rules are making it more expensive to buy a family home, whilst poky flats lie unwanted and unsold.?
Caroline Spelman MP, shadow secretary of state for local government, says: “Across the country, there is growing concern about how John Prescott’s planning rules are leading to leafy gardens being dug up and replaced with soulless and ugly blocks of flats.

The price of family homes is artificially inflated due to developers being forced to build flats.”?
“Local people are increasingly powerless to protect the character of their neighbourhood, and communities are suffering from the extra burden being placed on local infrastructure.

These planning rules prevent the development of new homes that the public actually want – family homes with sufficient parking spaces and gardens for children to play in.”?
A briefing note produced by experts from the independent House of Commons Library confirms that under Labour, “the overall policy environment changed in respect of developing on gardens”.

It also notes that developers will win on appeal if councils try to block garden grabbing planning applications.

Spelman adds: “Worse could be to come, with even harsher planning regulations on the way and the prospect of compulsory purchase of gardens for ‘social’ purposes.

And if they’re not going to build over your garden, Gordon Brown will tax it instead under his plans for a delayed, but still forthcoming, Council Tax revaluation.??

“Only the Conservatives will protect the character of England’s neighbourhoods, and ensure we deliver the family homes that people actually want to live in.”