George Osborne will attempt today to launch Bicester as a new ‘Garden City’. He will stress the new Gravel Hill MOD site, but in truth this is only 1,900 homes of the 13,000 planned. By far the biggest site in Bicester is the NW Bicester site (7,000 units) already announced by Gordon Brown as an Ecotown. Indeed the Gravel hill site was announced as part of Chilterns Local plan modifications many months ago prior to the Garden City Prospectus launch. In fact both of the ‘garden cities’ announced so far add not a single units to planned housing numbers and simply make up lost ground from the NPPF, Ecotowns cancellation and RSS revocation damage. They are supposed to provide incentives to bring new sites forward but so far only safe brownfield sites already in local plans have been announced. Both address local need and not overspill need from conurbations.
This will only be an incentive if:
a) a long term pot of money is announced
b) the government signals its intent through granting money to a brave new site that adds to housing numbers in an area where brownfield is in short supply – the only areas where there is an allocation problem. The definition of a mistargeted incentive is to spend public money on something that was happending anyway.
c) value cpature is used to incetivise authorities that there will be a long term revenue stream.
Cameron’s legacy will be not a single net new Garden City house.