There is no doubting the strength of feeling in Birmingham against what has been called garden grabbing - the dash to cram as many new flats and houses as possible into the back gardens of large Victorian and Edwardian homes in the city's finest suburbs.
Councillors and MPs in areas like Moseley, Sutton Coldfield and Edgbaston will be familiar with complaints that the special character of the suburbs is being ruined by inappropriate and high density infilling. It is this level of concern that has led to the city council producing new planning guidance for developers, setting out the local authority's view about what is and what is not acceptable development.
Whether the document really does turn out to be groundbreaking, as has been claimed by cabinet regeneration member Neville Summerfield, remains to be seen. It is one thing to lay down guidance for builders, it is quite another thing for the new rules to be accepted at the inevitable Planning Inspectorate inquiries into refusal to grant planning permission for infilling applications.
The council's problem is that the Government is in the process of overseeing a huge increase in house building, with the West Midlands under pressure to identify sufficient land to accommodate 420,000 new homes over the next 20 years. The scarcity of available land in cities means that many of these new dwellings will inevitably have to be built as a result of infilling. This is precisely why ministers have categorised gardens as previously developed brownfield land, in order to make it difficult for councils to refuse planning permission for back garden development.
Birmingham should be praised for attempting to protect its unique suburbs. But the effectiveness of the new guidance remains in the hands of the Government.