Sunday, 7 September 2014

Garden cities and greenfield sites

There is a lot of interest in building on greenfield sites and the greenbelt:
Futures Forum: Persimmon, Sidmouth and greenfield sites
Futures Forum: The East Devon Business Forum, housing numbers and greenfield sites

Lord Wolfson is in favour of more such building, as reported earlier in the year: 
Futures Forum: "England’s local authorities approved 195,000 planning applications over the past year, which is a 9 per cent rise on the average before legal changes came in promoting sustainable development."

Lord Wolfson is also behind the Wolfson Prize for economics, which has been promoting the notion of 'garden cities':

New garden cities plan wins £250,000 Wolfson Prize

4 September 2014 

Plans for new garden cities take inspiration from current examples such as Letchworth in Hertfordshire

A plan to give "garden city" status to up to 40 English towns has won the £250,000 Wolfson economics prize. This year's prize focused on garden cities, and the government said it was watching with interest.

Winner David Rudlin suggested Norwich, Northampton, Oxford and Rugby were among places which could be expanded as part of the scheme. Many of the towns could be doubled in size, providing hundreds of thousands of new homes, he said.

The question for entries was: "How would you deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular?"

A government-run process on identifying options for new garden cities is already under way. Garden cities are large-scale developments in which, according to the government, certain features can be "hardwired into designs from the beginning".

The government has said it does not want to "impose any definition of what garden cities are", but features can include "quality design, gardens, accessible green space near homes, access to employment, and local amenities". Britain's oldest garden city is Letchworth in Hertfordshire, dating from 1903.

'Not imposed'

Mr Rudlin, of urban design consultancy Urbed, said the next government should introduce a Garden Cities Act under which towns and cities could bid for garden city status, but he said settlements should not have it imposed on them. The towns and cities he identified for possible expansion also include Reading and Stafford.

In 2013, the construction of 109,370 new homes was completed in England - the lowest figure for four years - but government figures suggest 221,000 new homes are needed every year in England and Wales.

Oxford was one of the cities identified by Mr Rudlin, and Oxfordshire County Council leader Ian Hudspeth said he welcomed the "stimulus" that the Wolfson Prize had given to the debate. "Our economic plan proposes that 80,000 new jobs and 100,000 new homes need to be built by 2031 across the county," he said. "Therefore, we cannot rely on small, short-term fixes - we need to think of larger, bolder solutions."

Where did garden cities start? Tom Heap reports: click on link for video

Prize founder Lord Wolfson said he was "delighted" the competition had attracted "so many powerful and creative proposals. David's entry is a tour de force of economic and financial analysis, creative thinking and bold, daring ideas," he said, "I congratulate him and his team on a fantastic contribution to the debate on how we can deliver great new places for future generations to live, work and play in."

BBC local government correspondent Mike Sergeant said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had been a "particularly vocal supporter" of new garden cities, taking inspiration from long-standing garden cities including Letchworth and Welwyn.

The Wolfson Prize is said to be the second-biggest cash award in economics - after the Nobel Prize.

A £50,000 runner-up prize was given to housing charity Shelter, which proposed a settlement of up to 48,000 people at Stoke Harbour on the peninsula between the Thames and Medway rivers.

More on This Story: Related Stories

Compensation 'for garden city homes' 03 AUGUST 2014, UK
'Garden cities' finalists announced 04 JUNE 2014, UK
Clegg outlines garden cities plan 14 APRIL 2014, POLITICS
15,000-home garden city to be built 16 MARCH 2014, KENT
Wanted: A new city for somewhere in the UK 14 NOVEMBER 2013, MAGAZINE

Related Internet links: 
BBC News - New garden cities plan wins £250,000 Wolfson Prize
We need 40 garden cities across England, says economics prize winner - Telegraph
Government distances itself from Wolfson prize winner's green belt plan | Planning Resource
Proposal to build 3.5m homes in 40 UK towns wins the £250,000 Wolfson Prize - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

And the plans do indeed look very attractive - from the air:

Urbed's Uxcester garden city plan

Urbed wins Garden Cities Wolfson Prize | News | Building Design

Whilst the government has officially been promoting the idea of garden cities
BBC News - Three garden cities to be built, Nick Clegg announces
Government offers support for locally-led garden cities - Press releases - GOV.UK

... and perhaps there has been some disagreement within the Coalition...
New garden cities? Only with local consent | Conservative Home

... the Housing Minister has shown himself as not so keen on these latest proposals:
Government distances itself from Wolfson prize winner's green belt plan | Planning Resource
Housing Minister Brandon Lewis blasts award-winning garden city plan as ‘urban sprawl’ - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

To quote from today's report in the East Devon Alliance blog:


September 7th 2014

The Western Morning News has recently carried the story that Westcountry cities of Exeter and Taunton were among 40 identified for massive expansion by David Rudlin, an urban designer who scooped the Wolfson prize, the second-biggest economics prize after the Nobel.

His award-winning proposals, which earned him £250,000, included circular developments, with parks and allotments, of up to 150,000 people per town.

Mr Rudlin argued models pioneered in Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany should be adopted by Britain which could “take a confident bite out of the greenbelt”.


But here is Housing Minister Brandon Lewis’ response to Wolfson Prize:

“We are committed to protecting the green belt from development as an important protection against urban sprawl – today’s proposal from Lord Wolfson’s competition is not government policy and will not be taken up.

Instead, we stand ready to work with communities across the country who have ideas for a new generation of garden cities and we have offered support to areas with locally-supported plans that come forward. But we do not intend to follow the failed example of top-down eco-towns from the last administration. Picking housing numbers out of thin air and imposing them on local communities builds nothing but resentment. This government has abolished regional quangos’ role in planning – instead, we have empowered elected local councils to determine where new homes should and shouldn’t go.”

Picking housing numbers out of thin air and imposing them on local communities builds nothing but resentment. Hmmm!

Are our local Conservatives “on message” with their Conservative Minister?

On message or not? | East Devon Alliance

'Garden City' plan to double size of Exeter and Taunton

By WMNAGreenwood  |  Posted: September 05, 2014

Penny Mills, chairman of Devon CPRE, said the county was already absorbing 6,000 new homes at Cranbrook, near Exeter, and another 5,000 at Sherford, east of Plymouth. In all, she said, at least 30,000 houses had either been permitted or were in the planning system.
“The requirement in Devon is not for huge new cities, however green and pleasant their new suburbs,” she said. “It is for housing where there is a genuine requirement – small additions to villages, larger additions to the local towns where appropriate and developing brownfield sites first, and a massive investment in infrastructure, so that the South West has links to the rest of the country that can then make any new large-scale housing projects viable.
“Above all there remains a critical requirement for affordable housing. We have seen the gradual collapse of many small rural communities, now without pub, school, shop or other amenity, unreached by local bus, no railway nearby and increasingly isolated.
“The Government has major drive for sustainable development and will see this as a way of building large numbers of houses quickly
“For Devon this urban sprawl is the reverse of what is actually required if we are to house and provide work for those who live in this beautiful part of the country.”
'Garden City' plan to double size of Exeter and Taunton | Western Morning News

In response to the announcement of the Wolfson Prize, a leading town planner has said that he can feel the ghost of the eco-town programme stalking the garden cities idea.
The only way such garden cities could get through planning permission would be to grant new "awesome power" over plan-making, development control and land assembly.

Garden cities revival could fail like eco towns, says David Lock | Planning Resource

The ghost of the eco-town programme in East Devon:
Cranbrook - Imagine. Discover. Believe
How Eco are Gordon's Eco-towns
An honest look at Cranbrook and growth point - Claire Wright


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I'm just trying to leave a comment, as I've been getting feedback that that there have been difficulties publishing comments...
Jeremy (moderator)

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High Tech Homes said...

More than half the world’s population now lives in cities, with populations expected to rise dramatically in the years to come.