Futures Forum: Garden cities and greenfield sites
There was quite a lot of (mostly negative) reaction:
Garden Cities? What people want is Garden Villages - Rural Solutions Ltd.
The Policy Research think tank has come up with a novel take on the idea:
Garden Villages: Empowering localism to solve the housing crisis
Here is the Telegraph's own take on this idea:
Empower councils to build 'green villages', former Coalition planning adviser says
Lord Matthew Taylor, who advised the last Labour government and the Coalition on planning policy, calls for radical change in laws for house building
Councils should be handed new powers to create their own "garden villages", the Coalition's former planning adviser has proposed in a move that could trigger a million new houses being built across Britain.
Lord Matthew Taylor, who advised the last Labour government and the Coalition on planning policy, said the current system maximises Nimbyism and needs to be radically overhauled.
By encouraging houses to be built on the edge of existing towns and villages the current set-up results in cramped properties encroaching on green belt land and causing local frustration, the Lib Dem peer said.
Instead the New Towns Act should be changed to give local authorities the powers to create communities from scratch of between 3,000 and 5,000 homes – so-called “garden villages”.
If each one of England’s 353 councils used such powers to create a single new garden village over the next decade the country could have more than a million new homes.
The analysis, contained in a report for the leading think tank Policy Exchange, comes with housing becoming a crucial election issue with less than three months to go before the vote.
The Conservatives have picked tackling Britain’s housing shortage as one of their six key election themes, while Labour has promised to build 200,000 extra homes a year if it wins power.
Spelling out the problem, Lord Taylor’s report warns that the current system encourages “sequential” development on the edge of existing towns and villages that results in “politically toxic” proposals.
It results in a “downward spiral” of anger from locals opposing new builds, extra development on green belts and ultimately poor quality housing being made because of limited space, the report said.
“In short, the result of the present system favouring sequential development has meant development gets ever less welcome, land is eked out at minimised levels, and the resulting lack of land supply generates ever higher land prices,” the report's authors claim.
Under Lord Taylor proposals councils would compensate home owners and landowners affected by the new “garden villages” at a flat rate of 150 per cent of market value, thereby keeping down house prices.
Plots would be specifically earmarked for small and medium builders, self-build and the not-for-profit sector to improve their access to land, as well as larger scale housebuilders.
“The current planning system – based on tacking on homes to existing towns and villages – ramps up local opposition to new development and makes it politically challenging for councils to meet local housing need,” Lord Taylor said.
“It is therefore vital that we turn the system on its head. Empowering councils to create new garden villages to meet local housing demand and capture all the land value uplift is critical if we are to win over the support of existing residents and build the homes we so desperately need.”
Chris Walker, head of housing and planning at Policy Exchange said: “It is little wonder that Nimbyism has thrived in this country, given housing development today steps so crushingly on the toes of existing community residents.
“Building new homes through locally created new garden villages moves us away from this failed model, which for a generation has failed to build enough homes.”
He added: “Ultimately, delivering new homes through localism requires the support of local people – this paper proposes how to achieve that.”
This is what the Independent has to say:
No room for a Garden City? Just build a Garden Village instead, says think-tank
Under the Utopian 19th-century vision of Sir Ebenezer Howard, Garden Cities were to replace slums not only with new homes, but the prospect of “a new hope, a new life, a new civilization”.
The reality of attempting to build such developments in 21st-century “nimby” Britain has proved rather trickier – but now the Coalition believes it may have the answer to the worries of conservationists: Garden Villages.
Senior Downing Street officials are said to have welcomed proposals from the right-wing Policy Exchange think-tank that each of England’s 353 councils build a garden village of 3,000 houses.
Written by a Liberal Democrat peer and former Labour government planning adviser, Lord Matthew Taylor, the report argues that creating garden villages away from existing settlements would finally overcome the “nimbyism” problem of people objecting to new buildings on their doorsteps.
Lord Taylor argued this would create more than one million homes in a decade, and go some way to meeting the need to build around 300,000 houses every year for the next 20 years.
“The current planning system – based on tacking on homes to existing towns and villages – ramps up local opposition. Empowering councils to create new garden villages is critical,” he said.
The report, Garden Villages, Empowering Localism to Solve the Housing Crisis, may lack the lyricism of Sir Ebenezer’s Victorian original which spoke of “the joyous union [of] human society and the beauty of nature”, but it was last night said to have generated considerable excitement in Downing Street. One source said: “People at pretty high levels within Downing Street have liked this a lot. There is a sense within No 10 that this really could be a goer as a potential election manifesto idea.”
Chancellor George Osborne signalled Conservative support for the large-scale version of the garden city concept in March 2014 when he announced plans for Britain’s first garden city for almost 100 years, near Ebbsfleet, Kent.
Tory enthusiasm for garden villages may also be boosted by the eventual Conservative takeover of the original garden city movement.
As well as creating garden suburbs and towns such as Letchworth, it spawned the New Towns movement and the 1946 New Towns Act, which was responsible for Milton Keynes, Harlow, Basildon and others. And despite Sir Ebenezer’s enthusiasm for working class co-operatives, it did not usher in a new socialist dawn. Hampstead Garden Suburb, created in north London by the reformers Henrietta and Samuel Barnett, now boasts a Conservative MP and a reputation as one of Britain’s wealthiest areas.
The online Commuter Guide warns anyone thinking of buying a house in the world’s first garden city, Letchworth, in Hertfordshire: “You need to make sure your face fits. Ebenezer Howard’s social experiment attracted a distinct type of middle-class teetotaller, full of good intentions and disposed to vegetarianism.”
It wasn’t until 1958 that residents voted to allow what was then the town’s only pub to serve alcohol – 55 years after the building of Letchworth began in 1903.
No room for a Garden City? Just build a Garden Village instead, says think-tank - UK Politics - UK - The Independent
Conservative Home likes the idea:
Lord Taylor and Chris Walker: The case for garden villages | Conservative Home
The comments on the Inside Housing blog are a little more sanguine:
'Garden villages could lead to 1m new homes' | News | Inside Housing
A quick analysis of the ideas;
> How would neighbourhood plans fit into this scheme?
> What would the obligations of local planning authorities to do beyond the 'usual consultation'?
> How would 'self-builders' and 'small local builders' be encouraged, rather than simply allowing the big national developers first choice?
> How would the green belt, green space and farmland be protected?
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