The Deputy Prime Minister has called for new settlements modelled on Milton Keynes to be built in the Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire countryside to solve the housing crisis.
Mr Clegg said there is an “arc” of land between the west of the UK and Cambridge where there “aren’t enough homes to live”.
Campaigners warned that Mr Clegg’s plans would damage “some of the best countryside in England”.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the garden cities would stop planning disputes when developers try and build new housing in already-established communities.
Mr Clegg risked causing controversy by singling out three English counties for possible developments.
David Cameron, who has previously said he wants to “apply the principles of garden cities”, is the MP for Witney in Oxfordshire.
“We’ve got to, I think, plan for whole new communities in parts of the country where people want to live and that’s why I…am a very big supporter of new garden cities,” Mr Clegg said during his weekly phone-in on LBC Radio.
“We’ve done it before [in] Welwyn Garden City [and] Milton Keynes, places where a deliberate decision was taken to say, “This is an area of the country where people want to live’.
“Let’s not just create suburban sprawl, let’s create communities with parks and schools.”
Asked to name the areas he is targeting for the new settlements Mr Clegg said there is “an arc…from the western counties right through to Cambridge where we know that people want to live… and there aren’t enough homes.”
Asked specifically whether was referring to counties including Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and Oxfordshire, the Deputy Prime Minister replied: “Yes, those kinds of areas.”
His plans have echoes of Gordon Browns failed attempt to impose nearly a dozen eco-towns across middle England in 2008.
Mr Clegg said the new cities would stop planning disputes over new housing developments.
“If you do it in a planned way you don’t create all the controversy about lots of small developments which tread on the toes of local communities,” Mr Clegg said.
“You take a big decision that you’re going to create a settled community with all the right facilities and transport links which are sustainable into the future.”
In a speech last year the Prime Minister said he wanted to built new towns modelled on Hampstead Garden Suburb, Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City across the South East.
Despite admitting that garden cities were “not perfect but popular”, Mr Cameron said he wanted to “apply the principles of garden cities to areas with high potential growth, in places people want to live”.
John Hoad, head of planning at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said that garden cities could do “a lot of damage” to Britain’s countryside.
“It’s the countryside that people know and love and it’s really important,” Mr Hoad said. “We should be focussing much more on urban regeneration. It detracts from probably more difficult, but long-term environmentally sounder strategies that are about regenerating the towns and cities that we’ve got rather than creating completely new locations for development.”
Mr Hoad said the three counties mentioned by Mr Clegg “have got some of the best countryside in England”.
So where are the large urban areas in these three counties where growth should be diverted to? Chipping Norton, Buckingham, Shipston on Sour? It iis sad I think that CPRE has abandoned one of the key planning principles of its founder Patrick Abercrombie.