Daily Mail – yes but if that is the best option, and shouldnt we also test the option of large nbew cities in a plan?
Forty towns and cities in southern England must be doubled in size to deal with the country’s housing crisis, George Osborne’s new planning tsar has said.
A blueprint for ‘bold state action’ drawn up by Lord Adonis calls for thousands of acres of green belt to be concreted over for a new generation of ‘garden city’ extensions on existing towns.
In an article written just weeks before his appointment, he said central government should intervene to massively extend towns including Guildford, Norwich, Reading and Stratford-upon-Avon.
If carried out, Oxford – a city he specifically named – would shoot up from a population of 150,000 to 300,000.
Mr Osborne poached Lord Adonis, a former Labour Cabinet minister, earlier this week to be chairman of a new National Infrastructure Commission.
It is all part of a ‘war on the shires’ launched by the Chancellor in his Tory conference speech yesterday to fast-track infrastructure projects across Britain.
Mr Osborne said yesterday: ‘I’m not prepared to turn around to my children or indeed anyone else’s child, and say: I’m sorry we didn’t build for you.
‘We’re going to get many more homes built for families to buy… We’ve had enough of people who own their own home lecturing others why they can’t own one too.’
Lord Adonis was one of Labour’s leading political ‘thinkers’ during the Blair years. He was the architect of the academy schools programme, which has been accelerated by the Conservatives.
He outlined his vision for planning in an article for Prospect magazine, saying there were three ‘simple, if different’ reforms to solve the housing crisis.
‘First, local authorities in areas of housing shortage should be required by the state once again to become developers and place makers,’ he wrote.
‘Partly this will be about planning for far more housing and amenities on brownfield land where there is strong demand (particularly in London; partly it will be about new and expanded settlements, where environmental considerations need to be weighed with a view to action rather than inaction.
‘Local authorities need a new generation of public master planners and developers for this purpose.’
Lord Adonis went on to praise the work of urban designer David Rudlin, who has called for the significant extension of dozens of towns and cities in southern England.
He wrote: ‘Second, the state – central government – once again needs to take a lead by systematically planning new transport infrastructure to support new housing, and by becoming a planner of new settlements in its own right.
‘I am persuaded that the best course is to develop “garden city” extensions to successful existing new towns and cities in areas of high housing and employment demand, rather than developing entirely new towns like Milton Keynes, on the model advocated by David Rudlin, the urban designer who last year won the Wolfson prize for his work on tackling England’s housing shortage.
‘Rudlin proposed doubling the size of 40 towns and cities with good existing infrastructure and public transport connections which could be further enhanced, including Oxford, Guildford, Norwich, Reading and Stratford-upon-Avon.’
His third reform is a new requirement on local authorities to use more of its public land for housing.
‘It is bold state action – central and local government leading development in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, not abdicating its responsibilities to them – which will resolve the housing crisis,’ he said
‘With its vast ownership of land, and its powers to plan, develop, and finance, government can get the job done, and it has no one else to blame for inaction.’
Lord Adonis called for a return to the type of centrally-directed housebuilding seen between the end of the Second World War and the mid-1970s.
‘The collapse in housebuilding has largely been a function of the withdrawal of the state and local authorities from planning and developing new settlements since the mid-1970s, including new towns,’ he wrote.
‘The scale of the housebuilding shortfall is stark. More than 200,000 new homes a year are required to keep pace with household formation, at last 40,000 of them in London.
‘In the immediate postwar decades, cenral government not only funded and encouraged local authorities to become developers, it was also a significant developer in its own right, through new towns and major urban extensions.
‘From Stevenage in 1946 to Milton Keynes in 1967, the state developed nearly 30 new towns and major urban extensions, mostly in southern England.’