Monday, 17 December 2007

The right to an impermeable front garden? One of the issues that comes up consistently in consultation and mediation at local level, is the rights of the householder vs wider impact. Noise remains the classic theme of course, but other issues emerge from time to time such as Christmas lighting, car parking, trampolines in the garden, smelly garbage and so on. My little theory is that the age when the rights of the householder seemed to trump most other rights could be coming to an end, because its ambiguities and contradictions are becoming more frequently exposed, and awareness of collective environmental impact is growing fast. Here's an instance now: Householders should no longer have the automatic right to lay impermeable surfaces in gardens or driveways according to an independent review of the summer's flooding. The measure is one of a number of proposals for mitigating surface flooding outlined by Sir Michael Pitt in his interim report on managing flood risk. The report said that in urban areas, permitted development rights allowing private property owners to carry out works such as paving driveways can prevent the drainage of surface water, which accounts for two-thirds of all flood waters. It concluded that in areas of high flood risk, this right should no longer be automatically assumed. (Planning resource). This could have heavy implications for urban and suburban streets, where improvised parking across pavements is already excessive, inconsiderate towards pedestrians and often dangerous. Which brings us round to the need to stop people buying more cars. Some households near me appear to occupy more carspace than floorspace. Paved tracks, with permeable surround, would seem a sensible solution in many cases. More in the RHS guide. Previously: Front gardens. More on front gardens.

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