Housing and planning minister John Healey has published research claiming that inappropriate building on back gardens is not a widespread, national problem and is often linked to councils’ failure to have local policies in place. He told the small minority of councils who reported issues in ‘hot spot’ areas that the power to act is already in their own hands if they establish clear, local policies. The intensive, countrywide review by Kingston University was commissioned last year to assess the nature and extent of the issue across the country and how it could be tackled. Garden grabbing can affect the character of an area if very different properties are built alongside family homes. The research concluded that although the issue is not a widespread national problem, a minority of councils in London, the South East and West Midlands had reported an impact in their areas.