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PRESS RELEASE: New guidance might save front gardens say planners PR2006/64

15 December 2006

New Government guidance on flood risk, PPS 25, launched today could provide planners with the opportunity to stop people concreting over their front gardens and instead take a more sustainable approach. In London alone an area of green space 22 times the size of Hyde Park has been lost, increasing the risk of flooding and promoting the negative affects of climate change.

Kelvin MacDonald, Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) Director of Policy & Research, said: \"We want people to think sustainably, if they do have to park their cars on their front gardens we would encourage a creative and sustainable approach. This Government guidance highlights that rain water can not soak through impermeable surfaces such as concrete which increases the risk of flooding.\"

\"Well designed front gardens can still be used for parking and the RTPI intends to launch an awareness raising campaign in the New Year. However if homeowners are not willing to take on this challenge than under this new guidance local planning authorities can ask the Secretary of State to rescind the rights of their constituents to do as they wish to their front gardens.\" Front gardens currently fall under permitted development rights, as certified by the Secretary of State, which means homeowners can do with them almost as they wish.

The RTPI would not wish to see an increase in workloads on local authorities that removing these permissions would create. Rather the RTPI agrees with the recentlylaunched Barker Report that the planning system should be simplified and permitted development extended. However the effects of flooding can be catastrophic and ruin lives and the cumulative effects of concreting over front gardens will exacerbate that risk further.

The RTPI welcomes the increased emphasis and guidance on climate change and the management of flood plains. However, a significant proportion of flood damage occurs outside floodplains as a result of inadequate or poorly managed run-off and drainage. We look forward to detailed guidance on flood risk appraisal and on minor and permitted development that may have disastrous local or cumulative flooding impacts.

In particular, the RTPI hope that catchment flood management plans prepared by the Environment Agency will reflect these concerns and can be meaningfully and successfully integrated with Local Development Frameworks. We also call for the PPS to be backed up by resources to support the development and adoption of integrated and sustainable urban drainage systems.

Thursday 07 December 2006