The Really Bad Arguments used Against Garden Cities

I want to go through a few as we see the same rather discredited arguments used again and again, for example in this weeks Architects Journal and Chris Igloos Article in Planning.

They will be unlikely to deliver significant numbers of homes within the next ten years.

Quite true, though with determined central government action, as in many countries abroad they could deliver significant housing in 5.  The problems with this argument is twofold.  Firstly we stopped building New Towns in the mid 1970s, they eventually delivered over 500,000 homes.  Now 35  years later, together with the ceasing of council house building, we are 1 million houses short.  You do the math.  The failure to build Garden Cities is one of the main reasons we have a housing shortage.  It is only part of the solution but no-one has proposed a sustainable and deliverable solution to our full scale of housing crisis without Garden Cities.  Garden Cities are a long term solition but we have a long term problem.

We cannot soliely solve our housing crisis by small scale bits and peices added on.  Eventually somke of these sites becaome so big they need large scale new infrastructure, like new roads and schools, brownfield sites are not innume from this especially at very high densities, and building only small scale sites sees what we have been seing under the NPPF, the countryside and villages smapped by development small scale nationally but overwhelming locally.

There is huge potential in London that can deliver faster than a Green Belt New Town. Croydon, Thames Gateway, Old Oak Common all have significant housing capacity and infrastructure already in place or planned.

Chris and those repeating the same sites in AJ they are all in the new London SHLAA and London Plan, a plan between half a million and 1 million homes short over 20 years.  Those opposing Garden Cities to have credibility need to cite a site not already in plans and enough of them to meet the millions of homes and million backlog we have over the next 20 years.  My definition of a Nimby is someone who opposes a Garden City but who cannot cite alternative locations of sufficient number not already in SHLAAS to avoid them.

For a new settlement to be sustainable, location is critical. It needs to be on a network node (ie not just a radial route into London), so that people don’t need to use cars, and to allow higher density and much more effective place making. Very few such locations exist so it is likely that substantial public transport investment would be required to make the non radial connections.

So where such locations exist or are can be created we should not make optimal use of their accessibility? The argument is illogical.  Actually the number of stations in the UK where serving only a few hudred houses run into several hundred.  We have more such locations, and poential locations than any other country in the world.

People today want to move to London, not the next Basildon, because London is where the jobs are and where the attractions are.

Garden Cities were a solution of Victorian overcrowding, but now jobs have dispersed throughout the country.

These arguments are mutually contradictory.  The issue is not whether we build exactly the same as Letchworth today in the same location but how we meet the housing and employment needs of both London and the wider nation in the most accessible locations alongside not instead of urban regneration.  It is not a zero sum game.  Where we not to build Garden Cities all housing in London would have to be at Singapore densities, then you would see a flood of people moving out of London.

Any New Town built in the coming decades is much more likely to be like the sustainable developments in Vauban in Freiberg in Germany than Letchworth because today they are driven by completely different economics, sustainability and technologies.

Isnt this just what the TCPA and others have been advocating for a new wave of Garden Cities?  Isn’t this this just the principle on which dozens of new settlements are being planned on internationally.


One thought on “The Really Bad Arguments used Against Garden Cities

  1. Pingback: Why Not Garden Cities and Vital Cities? – FSF Report Presents a False and Unrealistic Choice | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s