THE number of gardens being sacrificed to make way for new houses across Kent has soared dramatically, figures show.
The figures, obtained by the Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clarke, show the increase is most pronounced in west Kent, with the scale of what has been dubbed "garden grabbing" highest in Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, Tonbridge and Malling and Dover.
Across Kent as a whole, about one in five of all new homes was built on a former garden in 2005.
But the number of garden plots sold off for development has soared way above that in some parts of the county.
In the County Town of Maidstone, just 17 per cent of all new homes were on previously developed land in 2004 but in 2005, that rose to 54 per cent, a rise of 37 per cent.
There was a 27 per cent increase in Tonbridge and a 21 per cent rise in Tunbridge Wells, where 68 per cent of all new homes went on sites of former homes.
That made the town one of the affected parts of the country for garden grabbing.
Mr Clark said: "These new figures show that the green and leafy character of much of Britain is being destroyed at an even faster rate. These developments are doing nothing to provide the housing we desperately need in our area - affordable housing and homes for young families."
The MP has been campaigning for a change in the law to prevent developers exploiting a loophole that means gardens are classified as brownfield sites.
That would make it harder to get planning permission to build on such sites, which are often densely packed with flats or small houses.
Bt while the increase has been marked in parts of Kent, in other districts, there has been a drop in garden plots being lost to development.
In Thanet, there was a drop of 15 per cent and in Swale, a fall of nine per cent to just five per cent.