diamond geezer

 Saturday, April 11, 2020

On a warm sunny Easter weekend, staying at home isn't ideal.
But staying at home is a bit easier if you have a garden.

So I thought I'd dig up data to try to discover how many of our homes have gardens.

This question was asked in Parliament last April. Here's the published answer.
The annual English Housing Survey records details relating to the land immediately surrounding a dwelling, referred to as the dwelling’s plot. The plot may be private (i.e. exclusive access) or shared (e.g. where a block of flats have a shared garden). The plot may consist of hard landscaping (e.g. concrete, tarmac, paving, gravel), soft landscaping (e.g. lawn, flower/vegetable beds) or a combination. In 2016, the latest year for which data are available, 83 per cent of homes (19.7 million dwellings) in England had private plots; 1 per cent (296,000) had a shared plot.
According to latest figures 83% of homes in England have a 'private plot', a further 1% share theirs and 1 in 6 households go without.

But that private plot might not actually be a garden.

For greater detail I've had to go back to the 2008 English Housing Survey - the last time a detailed survey of gardens was undertaken.
The majority of dwellings (85%) had some kind of private plot and most had these at both the front and rear. Not all of these private plots consisted of greenery. Almost a third (30%) of front plots and 15% of rear plots had the area largely or wholly covered by hard landscaping materials (concrete, paving, gravel, tarmac etc.). Where dwellings had a private plot at the front, these were on average 7.2m deep. Rear plots tended to be larger averaging 15.3m in depth.
A front garden isn't usually much good for exercise, so let's focus instead on the number of back gardens. The survey tells us that 85% of back gardens are mostly soft landscaping (e.g. lawn, flower/vegetable beds) and 15% mostly hard (so perhaps not great for exercise). But even an all-paved back garden is better than no back garden at all... so how many of us suffer that?

The 2008 survey tells us that 78% of homes had private gardens front and back, and another 5% had only a private back garden. In total that means 83% of English homes had a back garden of some kind. It's probably a little lower than that today, but let's say 4 out of 5 English households have a private back garden and only 1 in 5 do not.

back gardennot

To dig deeper, the 2008 survey also divides English housing stock into 29% terraced houses, 26% semi-detached, 17% detached, 9% bungalows and 19% flats.

Looking at the graph, a whopping 99% of semi-detached and detached houses have private back gardens, as do 97% of bungalows and 96% of terraced houses. If you live in any kind of house, you very probably have a back garden.

back garden

But if you live in a flat, not so. Only 18% of those living in purpose-built low-rise flats have a private back garden, plummeting to just 2% for those in purpose-built high-rise flats. Converted flats do a little better at 33%, but that still means two out of three are gardenless. Combining these categories suggests that only 20% of flats have a private back garden, which means 4 out of 5 flat-dwellers go without.
n.b. 66% of flats in England have some kind of shared plot outside, although this may not be suitable for recreation, relaxation or exercise.

back gdnnot

And what of London? Are there fewer private back gardens here?

It's been estimated that 24% of Greater London is covered by private gardens, by far the largest proportion of any UK region. But that doesn't mean residents have access to them... with residents of Westminster and Tower Hamlets particularly short-changed.

Key to London's garden shortfall is that a greater proportion of us live in flats than in the rest of the country. At the time of the 2011 census 50% of households in London were in flats. By 2014 it was up to 53%. That proportion might be nearer 60% today.

Making some whopping assumptions, let's say 20% of that 60% have a private back garden, along with 95% of the remaining housing stock.
    flats          houses
20%×60% + 95%×40% = 50%
If so, that would mean London households split roughly fifty-fifty, half with private back gardens and half without.

back gardennot

And that in turn would suggest why so many Londoners are so keen to go out for daily exercise... it's because half of us can't do it in a garden at home.

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