More Garden Towns and Villages Planned

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The UK government is getting behind the concept of garden towns, with communities secretary James Brokenshire suggesting that housing schemes should be put forward by developers and councils. The emphasis is on the next stage of the garden community programme. Schemes which have local authority backing will receive advice and funding along with cross-government brokerage. Any plans will also need to aim at providing over 10,000 units, although the government has said it will consider supporting schemes that only propose 1,500 or more units.

A garden town is described by the Town and Country Planning Association as a “holistically planned new settlement that enhances the natural environment, tackles climate change and provides high-quality housing and locally accessible jobs in beautiful, healthy and sociable communities”.

According to the government, it has already supported 23 garden communities, like the one intended for Braintree, Essex, which could eventually deliver 200,000 new homes by 2050. It takes time to establish these communities, which is one of the negative aspects. There have also been concerns voiced about the fact that it is ineffective to build homes, where there is no viable infrastructure or amenities.

The garden village schemes address the housing shortage by providing large communities in one fair swoop. As Peter Freeman, founder of developers Argent stated, “They are the most complex solution to housing need, but they are also the best long-term solution”. In the past there has been significant government assistance but a lack of adequate funding, and hopefully this will now be addressed. It is seen as a key factor that government departments such as Homes England, the Environment Agency and various planning committees are being brought in this time.

Victoria Hills, chief executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute said “It is vital that planning teams are properly resourced to deliver at a more strategic level. We have seen too many large developments in the wrong place with no proper strategic planning and consideration for quality design.”

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