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27/04/2015

Garden city proposals ‘lack clarity’

Words: Laura Edgar
Homes / iStock_000020788340

Garden cities are specifically mentioned in the main parties’ election manifestos, but planning professionals have told The Planner there is little clarity on whether locally-led solutions will deliver the houses required to meet the national shortage.

The Town and Country Planning Association’s chief executive Kate Henderson said while it is positive to see garden cities recognised, the Labour manifesto fails to commit to “ensuring if and how new garden cities will meet the garden city principles.”

Henderson added that the Conservative proposal to extend the Right to Buy “risks undermining the achievements of genuine mixed communities”, raising questions about how “outstanding places” like Letchworth, which “include a significant amount of social housing”, can be delivered.

The Liberal Democrats’ commitment to building at least 10 garden cities “is seriously aspirational,” Tim Pugh, partner at Berwin Leighton Paisner, told The Planner. “It is a big ask. “Note the let-out. They, like the Conservatives, have qualified it by saying they will be where communities support them.”

Michael Wood, senior planner at Indigo Planning, said Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats all mention garden cities as a way to deliver housing need “for the first time since the 1970s”.

However, Wood believes none of the parties is clear on how garden cities will be “delivered in policy terms and whether locally led solutions will deliver the strategic housing numbers required.”

Managing director at Nexus Planning Roger Tustain told The Planner that a national strategy is needed to identify and deliver initiatives like garden cities.

He added: “To argue that they will need to be locally supported demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding about how planning actually works on the ground.”

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