Right to Nature

by David Feather

On Wednesday, we were reminded about the importance of private gardens for the well-being of our wildlife. However, there is an aspect of private gardens which needs and deserves a lot more public discussion.

If you have a garden where you can help wildlife, then you are lucky. Recent research is showing that homes in the poorest areas of England have less than one third of the private garden space enjoyed by those in the richest. This results in a mental and physical health disadvantage that leads to worse outcomes from the cradle to the grave. For example, people from the poorest areas die, on average, 19 years younger than those from the wealthiest.

The lack of garden space will not be the only factor, but it will be a significant contributor.

Disturbingly, this disparity in garden space can only get worse. Developers, with the backing of planners, both National and Local, are proposing to cram in as many properties as possible “to make the most efficient use of land”. In the latest planning application relating to the land next to the White Horse Business Park, they propose an average density of 40 homes per hectare. This would result in a situation as shown on this extract from the application documentation.

[1]“For the purposes of the outline application, up to 40dph has been outlined on the plan.” [2] Plan for housing development at Southwick Court.

Just look at the size of the “gardens” proposed, probably just enough to squeeze in a small conservatory and a patio. Certainly not much space for wildlife.

This is really a disgrace. Public Health authorities should intervene. The Covid pandemic has already caused a mental health problem and the new developments are just going to compound the situation. We should not be building in problems. We should know better.

5 thoughts on “Right to Nature

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  1. We Do know better, that is the frightening thing. The developers DO know how the lack of green spaces damages mental wellbeing, they just choose to ignore it. The council’s planning department knows too, as do all the experts who add their penny’s worth to the planning application process. But the developers’ right to their profits seems to trump everything else, especially the wellbeing of the people who are going to live in cramped houses with tiny gardens.

  2. I totally agree. The new houses by me have 2mx2m gardens, hardly enough to hang washing out. If the pandemic has taught us anything, surely it’s that everyone need their little bit of outside space. Why is there not a minimum garden allowance per new build?

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