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15/09/2015

Future garden cities must learn lessons from past - TCPA

Words: Simon Wicks
Letchworth Garden City

A blend of traditional garden city environmental standards and the efficient delivery mechanism of postwar new towns is necessary for new garden cities to grow and flourish, says a report published today (15 September).

New Towns and Garden Cities: Lessons for Delivering a New Generation of Garden Cities, published by the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), argues in favour of a garden city development corporation that would have the resources and legal power to drive the creation of new communities.

This would be bound to work alongside local people and offer a commitment to long-term stewardship – qualities missing from the postwar new towns programme, says the report.

This is just one among eight lessons from the past promoted by the study, which government needs to take on board if a new wave of garden cities is to be a success. Others include:

-    The need to find the right sites;
-    Creating a dedicated planning consent mechanism to speed up delivery;
-    Setting up long-term land value capture models so the developments can pay for themselves;
-    Updating new towns legislation to put in place the delivery mechanisms.

TCPA chief executive Kate Henderson said it was vital to preserve the visionary idealism of garden cities and new towns, while also updating this vision for the 21st century. Between 1946 and 1970 the new towns programme alone created 32 new towns across Britain, which are home to more than 2.8 million people today. The earlier garden cities, including Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, continue to provide a model for planners today, she said.

“Garden cities and postwar new towns were visionary experiments in finding a better way to live and are today part of an evolving story of urbanism across the UK from which we still have a lot to learn," she said.

“With garden cities firmly on the political agenda, it is important to learn the lessons – good and bad – from what has been done before. Creating new communities is complicated and we need to have the right tools for the job. We also need long-term political leadership and commitment to good placemaking that transcends political cycles.”

The report, co-written with David Lock Associates, was launched this morning at the TCPA’s annual conference, ‘New Towns - past, present, future’. Speaking at the conference, garden cities and new towns expert Katy Lock stressed the central message of the report.

"We are clear that there needs to be a garden city development cooperation to enable their delivery, a legal commitment to implement the garden city principle."

Professor Sir Malcolm Grant, chair of NHS England, said that 21st century planners would also have to learn the lessons of demographic change when planning new communities.

"Instead of having a population that's decent enough to die at a young age, which was mostly down to smoking, we have a population that has a burden of disease that grows with age," he said.

Download New Towns and Garden Cities: Lessons for Delivering a New Generation of Garden Cities

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