Policy Exchange – Change New Towns Act -Yes – But to build in the Worst Locations – No. Will this Dumb Tank Never Learn

Telegraph Policy Exchange Report by Lord Taylor here.  It shows how far we have come for the Policy Exchange to talk of utilization the New Towns Act.  The report gives no justification though, other than a raw political one, for a 5,000 dwellings cap, normally the minimum to support a secondary school.  Surely new settlements should normally begin at this level and not end at it.  A clearer economic and sustainability justification is needed and no crude presumption against urban extension where they make sense, after all all new settlements in the UK have extended existing ones and you can search far and wide in the UK for 353 ‘virgin’ sites with suitable road and wet infrastructure.  50, mostly well connected to existing towns, you might find and might get built.

Yet again a Policy Exchange dumb tank report abstractly removed from geography and place The compensation /CPO /vesting changes in the report for 150% compensation if existing use value makes sense but requires primary legislation, the report however deeply confuses existing and ‘hope’ value and doesn’t dig into the caselaw and primarily legislation issues that allows this economic rent to be privatized.     The report also repeats the myth that housing far from lots of voters is a soft and good option, try telling that to the villagers of Lightmore Heath/ Gaydon in Warwickshire (inspectors report  due imminently confidently expect it to be thrown out) and in Horsham District where the inspector rightly threw out Lord Taylors badly located proposal.  Hmmm perhaps he should have declared an interest in the forward maybe.


Councils should be handed new powers to create their own “garden villages”, the Coalition’s former planning adviser has proposed in a move that could trigger a million new houses being built across Britain.

Lord Matthew Taylor, who advised the last Labour government and the Coalition on planning policy, said the current system maximises Nimbyism and needs to be radically overhauled.

By encouraging houses to be built on the edge of existing towns and villages the current set-up results in cramped properties encroaching on green belt land and causing local frustration, the Lib Dem peer said.

Instead the New Towns Act should be changed to give local authorities the powers to create communities from scratch of between 3,000 and 5,000 homes – so-called “garden villages”.

If each one of England’s 353 councils used such powers to create a single new garden village over the next decade the country could have more than a million new homes.

The Conservatives have picked tackling Britain’s housing shortage as one of their six key election themes, while Labour has promised to build 200,000 extra homes a year if it wins power.

Spelling out the problem, Lord Taylor’s report warns that the current system encourages “sequential” development on the edge of existing towns and villages that results in “politically toxic” proposals.

It results in a “downward spiral” of anger from locals opposing new builds, extra development on green belts and ultimately poor quality housing being made because of limited space, the report said.

“In short, the result of the present system favouring sequential development has meant development gets ever less welcome, land is eked out at minimised levels, and the resulting lack of land supply generates ever higher land prices,” the report’s authors claim.

Under Lord Taylor proposals councils would compensate home owners and landowners affected by the new “garden villages” at a flat rate of 150 per cent of market value, thereby keeping down house prices.

Plots would be specifically earmarked for small and medium builders, self-build and the not-for-profit sector to improve their access to land, as well as larger scale housebuilders.

“The current planning system – based on tacking on homes to existing towns and villages – ramps up local opposition to new development and makes it politically challenging for councils to meet local housing need,” Lord Taylor said.

“It is therefore vital that we turn the system on its head. Empowering councils to create new garden villages to meet local housing demand and capture all the land value uplift is critical if we are to win over the support of existing residents and build the homes we so desperately need.”

Chris Walker, head of housing and planning at Policy Exchange said: “It is little wonder that Nimbyism has thrived in this country, given housing development today steps so crushingly on the toes of existing community residents.

“Building new homes through locally created new garden villages moves us away from this failed model, which for a generation has failed to build enough homes.”

He added: “Ultimately, delivering new homes through localism requires the support of local people – this paper proposes how to achieve that.”


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