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24/01/2020

Garden city principles provide a better vision for housing

Garden city principles provide a blueprint for the large scale housebuilding required to solve the UK's housing shortage, argues Patrick Clarke.

If we are to build a new generation of garden towns and villages, a holistic masterplanning approach must be a priority to ensure all the expertise is in place to deliver these highly complex projects within the required time frames.

The government has to date supported 29 garden communities across England with the potential to deliver almost 300,000 new homes. Although this is a significant contribution to addressing the UK’s housing crisis, there is still a lot of work to be done.

For many years, developers have struggled to get communities on board with the idea of delivering large developments. But in 2018 the British Social Attitudes Survey found that 55 per cent of people were in favour of new housing developments in their neighbourhoods compared with just 28 per cent in 2011.

Although growing public support for new housing has helped, it is vital that we look into new ways to plan and deliver these complex projects while gathering the support needed to make it a success. Typically, development projects are planned and delivered at a much smaller scale – providing between 200 to 300 homes on a site near an existing town with just basic infrastructure in place. Over time these smaller extensions add up to thousands of new homes but often lack the strategic town-wide infrastructure needed to meet fully the needs of local people.

“Garden city principles provide a compelling framework for new communities”

But a garden community approach enables us to plan in advance to provide housing that is needed over a longer period, with the possibility of creating better connections. This enables a vision-led approach and allows necessary infrastructure to be identified as part of an infrastructure delivery plan, Much of this could be funded by the project through the uplift in land value.

It is vital that developers follow the garden city principles that provide a compelling framework for the planning, delivery and long-term stewardship of new communities. These principles, developed by the Town and Country Planning Association, have given authorities the confidence to plan more ambitiously for new communities.

Using them will ensure that all the facilities needed by a small town are provided while also addressing the challenges of climate change and the need to foster better health through provision of green infrastructure.

This approach has the potential to boost housing delivery, but people must buy into the vision to allow projects to move quicker through the planning process. If successful, this may also provide the chance to plan and implement larger garden towns and cities in places such as the Oxford -Cambridge Arc. 

Patrick Clarke MRTPI is director and UK and Ireland masterplanning lead with AECOM

Image credit | iStock

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