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Finalists for Wolfson Prize announced

Words: Sam Waddicor

The five finalists shortlisted for this year's Wolfson Economics Prize have been revealed.

This year’s competition asked entrants to come up with the best design for a garden city to win the £250,000 reward. The shortlist is made up of:

  • Barton Willmore: Their entry sets out a ten-point plan for the delivery of a new garden city, arguing for the development of a cross-party consensus and the production of a National Spatial Plan to identify suitable locations for new garden cities.
  • Chris Blundell: His entry argues that a garden city should accommodate between 30,000 and 40,000 people (about the size of Letchworth) and that its delivery should be led by Garden City Development Corporations.
  • David Rudlin of URBED: David’s entry argues for the near-doubling of an existing large town in line with garden city principles, to provide new housing for 150,000 people (about the size of Oxford or Canterbury).
  • Shelter: This entry proposes a new garden city on the Hoo Peninsula (Medway, Kent) commencing with a settlement of up to 48,000 people (about the size of Welwyn Garden City) at Stoke Harbour as part of a larger cluster of settlements eventually totaling 150,000 people.) 
  • Wei Yang & Partners:Their entry argues that an ‘arc’ beyond the London Green Belt (stretching from Portsmouth to Oxford to Cambridge to Felixstowe) is the best location for the development of new garden cities

Image credit (and top) and copyright: Shelter

Wolfson prize director Miles Gibson told The Planner: “We had 279 entries so the judges had to make some pretty fine judgments about which five to shortlist. The way the judging was done was to score all the entries and these are the five entries with highest scores.

“What happens now is that the five finalists are asked to rewrite and elaborate on their submissions. We gave them a 10,000 word limit in the first round and what they have to do now is expand that up to 25,000 words. One of the reasons the judges have gone for these five submissions is that they offer a promising framework that can be filled in. Those 25,000 words need to come back to us by the 11th August and then the judges gather again to choose an overall winner that we will announce hopefully at the beginning of September. That overall winner gets the £250,000 and the other four get £10,000.”

Image credit (and top) and copyright: Michelle Foster

A survey conducted for the award found that three-quarters of Britons supported building new garden cities. The region with the most support for garden cities was London, with 76 per cent of people behind the proposed constructions. 61 per cent of Londoners also agree that there is plenty of land that could be built on if planning permission were granted. A similar number would also support developing of previously untouched land, as long as the green belt was left intact.

The survey also found that over 65s were the age group most likely to endorse garden city developments. This is seen as an encouraging sign for the government as the over 65s are more likely to vote and therefore show their support at the ballot box.

Image credit (and top) and copyright: Paul Roberts