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Prospectus for garden cities unveiled

Words: Huw Morris
Letchworth garden city town square

The government today published a prospectus inviting local authorities to come forward with plans for garden cities.

The prospectus, launched by deputy prime minister Nick Clegg and communities secretary Eric Pickles, says potential garden cities should have the full backing of all local authorities in which they are sited and consider how they will involve the community.

Clegg today suggested up to three garden cities could be built, with funding from a £2.4 billion existing pot available for developments up to 2020. Each development is expected to be at or above 15,000 homes on brownfield land and comprise "integrated and thriving communities", providing the full range of commercial, retail, educational and community facilities.

They should also have good access to either existing or planned transport infrastructure. The prospectus does not prescribe the delivery model for each scheme and suggests publicly-led arm's length companies, joint ventures or development corporations. Proposals will need to "consider how to draw in private capital and make use of the land value uplift to finance infrastructure".

The government pledges to offer support by co-ordinating key partners, including Whitehall departments, agencies, local enterprise partnerships, developers and local authorities. Successful expressions of interest will be supported by the Homes and Communities Agency's Advisory Team for Large Applications with planning performance agreements, local development orders, joint plans and the community infrastructure levy. The government will also make available a "limited amount of funding" to support the design, planning and professional costs of developing a scheme.

RTPI president Cath Ranson welcomed the government's call for expressions of interest, saying: "The prospectus is brief but to the point and addresses many of the key issues. That the prospectus is jointly launched by the deputy prime minister and the secretary of state for Communities and Local Government illustrates that the initiative has powerful cross-government endorsement.
"Following the chancellor's announcement of support for development in Ebbsfleet, the prospectus is a further step in the right direction, but the scale of the housing is such that government needs to do more to address need now."