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Campaigners celebrate

PUBLISHED: 17:32 18 March 2010 | UPDATED: 14:57 24 August 2010

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after they succeeded in persuading the government to strengthen rules on development in back gardens in their neighbourhood. Nearly a thousand residents in Mapesbury, signed a petition to send to the Environment Secretary, Hi

CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after they succeeded in persuading the government to strengthen rules on development in back gardens in their neighbourhood.

Nearly a thousand residents in Mapesbury, signed a petition to send to the Environment Secretary, Hillary Benn asking for the area to be protected from recent changes in the law, which made development easier.

Mr Benn listened to the residents, and ordered the strengthening of the Article 4 directions of the area's conservation area on March 3.

Article 4 directions are issued where specific control over development is deemed necessary, usually where authorities think the character of an area might be threatened.

Sheelagh Putnam, who is chairwoman of the Mapesbury Residents' Association, said the victory was the result of a close working relationship between residents and Brent Council.

She said: "We're absolutely delighted that the Secretary of State agreed with us that there was overwhelming support for increased protection for our gardens.

"We're absolutely thrilled that Brent Council took on board our concerns and devoted resources to making an application.

"What it means is that it will conserve the famous Mapesbury gardens and they are safe both now and for the future. An awful lot of local authorities would have said that's tough."

The relaxation in the law increased the size of developments which property-owners were allowed to build in their back gardens.

A Brent Council spokeswoman said: "Local people were canvassed about their views on the potential damage of a particular local issue - in Mapesbury's case, the impact of excessive outbuildings on their attractive gardens

"Armed with overwhelming local support, Brent Council's submissions have now been speedily agreed by the Government Office.

"Brent's planning service will be working with local residents to publicise the changes and to provide guidance for people to help protect and improve their conservation areas.

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