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Parliamentary group established for new towns

Words: Laura Edgar
New towns / iStock

A new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) has been established with the aim of highlighting the growth opportunities and challenges in Britain’s post-war new towns.

Planners, urban designers, housing associations, housebuilders, MPs and government officials, including housing secretary Sajid Javid, all attended the launch.

The group will consider the successes and failures of existing new towns in order to learn from past mistakes and to help shape government policy in the future.

Speaking at the launch, Javid said there were valuable lessons to be learned from New Towns, which were the home to successful companies, offered affordable homes and job opportunities.

“But,” he said, “the downsides of the rapid development and, in particular, centralised planning that underpinned New Towns, are all too evident.

“Dated, often identikit housing; infrastructure and town centres that, too often, look like everywhere and nowhere.”

The group will be chaired by Lucy Allan, MP for Telford, while the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is providing the secretariat as well as expert knowledge on new towns and garden cities.

Allan said: “We all share a passion for the vision and ambition that the New Town movement represents and as the housing crisis continues, it is clear that new towns have an important role to play in Britain’s future and in the lives of the next generation seeking to build a better life.

“The APPG will also aim to tackle new town challenges such as ageing infrastructure, poor private rental housing and connectivity, as well as deprivation, in order to influence future government policy and keep New Towns centre stage.

“I know that the cross-party group will be an effective champion for my constituency in Telford as well as other new towns across the country.”

Kate Henderson, chief executive at the TCPA, said: “The New Towns programme was the most ambitious large-scale town-building programme ever undertaken in the UK, providing homes and jobs for over 2.8 million people. As a set of places, they exhibit a range of urban successes and failures, with some among the fastest-growing communities in the UK and others the among the most deprived.

“With the government supporting a new programme of garden cities, towns and villages, the APPG will provide a highly influential, cross-party forum to learn the lessons – good and bad – of past new towns to help shape future policy."

During 2018 the APPG will be holding three parliamentary round tables on key issues: Providing high-quality homes in New Towns, now and in the future; Healthy New Towns – improving the health and wellbeing of New Town residents; and Unlocking skills, innovation and enterprise in New Towns. Key findings will be shared on the APPG website following the events.

Image credit | iStock