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Capital’s gardens in decline

14 July 2011
Capital’s gardens in decline

Gardens are still being paved, decked and buried under concrete despite the demise of telly makeover shows such as Ground Force, a study has claimed.

In London alone, gardens are being lost at a rate of two-and-a-half Hyde Parks per year, mainly due to the fashion for low-maintenance plots.

A report, called London: Garden City, said non garden-minded city-dwellers were turning to hard surfacing for practicality.

Conservationists say the trend is a disaster for wildlife. Paved gardens can increase the risk of flooding and drainage problems.

The research, which used aerial photographs, was conducted by the London Wildlife Trust (LWT), Greenspace Information for Greater London (GiGL) and the Greater London Authority (GLA).

Greater London has 93,000 acres of domestic land which comprises 3.8million front and rear gardens. But only 54,000 acres or 58 per cent, is green area – a decline of 12 per cent from 61,700 acres in 1999.

Hard surfaces such as decks, patios and paving increased by 26 per cent from 24,000 acres to 30,800 acres between 1999 and 2008. And the area of gardens covered by sheds and greenhouses rose by 55 per cent from 4,440 acres to 6,900 acres.

LWT deputy chief executive Mathew Firth described the speed and scale of the loss of London’s garden as “alarming”. He said: “Collectively, these losses detrimentally affect wildlife and impact on our ability to cope with climate change.”

Report author Chloe Smith said that the precise study of ground cover in gardens had never been documented before. The report claimed that 500 gardens are lost to housing development every year in the capital.