Residents who want to pave a front garden will need local authority planning permission from this month. The new planning law follows a report commissioned by the London Assembly, ‘Crazy Paving’, which argued that London’s green space should be formally protected to tackle flooding and other environment problems in the capital. It concluded that 12 square miles of front gardens had been paved over – equivalent to the loss of 22 Hyde Parks.

Given that rather less harmful changes to our homes have long required planning permission the change seems reasonable. Some may object to this new restriction on libertarian grounds – yet more state interference in the individual doing as he wishes with his property, what happened to an Englishmen’s home is his castle, etc.

But what your do with your front garden clearly impacts on your neighbours. Not just in terms of aesthetics but also the risk of flooding. Earth absorbs heat and dust and noise better than concrete. The Royal Horticultural Society have guidance to discourage people from doing it, including how it is still feasible to park a car in the front garden without concreting it over.

Perhaps what is really needed is some incentives for people to restore front gardens which have been paved over.