Brokenshire’s Bizarre Attack on ‘Garden Grabbing’ Khan

Inside Housing

Housing secretary James Brokenshire has attacked Sadiq Khan’s London Plan for allowing building on people’s gardens.

In a letter to the mayor, he threatened to use his powers to intervene if the plan – the mayor’s spatial development strategy for the capital – is not changed to reflect the recently published National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

As well as instructing Mr Khan to remove his policy allowing development on residential gardens, he criticised “the detail and complexity” of the policies, saying they “have the potential to limit accessibility to the planning system and development”.


The new NPPF has removed the restriction on garden development being counted as windfall.

Whilst on garden it says.  Para 71. (para 70 old version).

‘Plans should consider the case for policies to resist innappropriate development of residential gardens, for example where development would cause harm to the local area’.

In other words entirely optional.

The London Plan no longer contains a policy restricting garden development.  As it is perfectly allowed to do under the NPPF.

The issue is policy H2 which provides a presumption in favour of development

Including ‘infill development within the curtilage of a house’ however in line with the NPPF there is a harm clause ‘unless it can be demonstrated that the development would give rise to an unacceptable level of harm to residential privacy, designated heritage assets, biodiversity or a safeguarded land use that outweighs the benefits of additional housing provision.’

The type of harm is not defined in the NPPF.

This is a cheap point scoring exercise prompted by lobbying from Mayoral candidates.

Fair dos to the Minister though for calling out the London Plan for ‘“stray[ing] considerably beyond providing a strategic framework” – it has certainly grown to become a monster and could be reduced to a couple of dozen policies over 100 pages, and that it does not provide enough information about how its increased housing targets will be delivered.  Of course it targets are deliverable, especially with ruling out Green Belt development and no deal to deliver overspill.

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