May Squashes Garden Cities and Housing White Paper in Anti-Osborne Spite

This Telegraph Story echoing briefing to the Guardian shows two things

  1. Ebbsfleet has been seen as an Osborne failure – and hence and all Garden Cities to be stopped.   It is no coincidence both the Guardian and Telegraph state ‘experts warn it has been quietly scrapped’ for expert read dumb SPAD.  In fact despite a slow start it will this year deliver more housing than anywhere else in the country and was supported not opposed by local communities, the intervention by Osborne coming after years of failure due to it not implementing the Garden City principle of the development land being owned by the community.
  2. May in delaying the Housing White paper is wary of a ‘war on the countryside hence likely no garden cities above scale of garden towns announced and likely no major Green Belt reviews

As these Garden Cities and Villages are mostly already in draft local plans they wont do a lot to close the allocations gap. we need tentimes more than this just to meet the needs of London and South East.

New “garden” towns and villages will be built across England in an attempt to alleviate the housing crisis, the Government will announce on Monday.

The plans will deliver 14 new villages of between 1,500 to 10,000 homes to be built outside existing settlements.

A further three towns of more than 10,000 houses each will be built alongside Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow and Gilston.

Theresa May’s first announcement of 2017 suggests her Government will make housing one of its main priorities in the year ahead.

The last Conservative government was regularly criticised for failing to build more homes. The ambitious new plans have won support from campaign groups despite earlier concerns that garden cities would lead to urban sprawl and put added pressure on infrastructure.

Announcing the scheme, the housing minister said the villages will create almost 50,000 new homes from Cheshire down to Devon, while the towns will take the total to 200,000 new homes.

The plans are aimed at providing more affordable homes

Gavin Barwell said: “Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies.”

Campaign groups had previously warned against garden town developments because of concerns that local councils planned to build on green-belt land.

Last year the Government curbed its plans for garden cities after a project in Ebbsfleet stalled following opposition from local communities.

The Government has also been wary of any plans which could be termed a “war on the countryside”, a charge which was repeatedly levelled at the Tories during their years in coalition.

The schemes announced today will include some development of green spaces, but Shaun Spiers, the chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), broadly welcomed the new plan.

Gavin Barwell, who has praised the plans

He said: “Done well, with genuine local consent, garden villages and towns can help tackle the housing crisis. They can be preferable to what is currently happening in too many parts of the country – poor quality developments plonked on the countryside, in the teeth of local opposition and in defiance of good planning principles.

“Some of these proposals may meet these criteria, but others are greatly opposed by local people. We will look closely at these specific proposals to ensure that they really are locally led, that they respect the Green Belt and other planning designations, and that they meet real local housing need.

“Communities are under pressure from over-ambitious, centrally dictated housing targets, so where they do support new settlements they should be protected from speculative planning applications for a long time to come.”

Garden cities were the brainchild of Ebenezer Howard in 1898, intended as an alternative to industrial slums with green space and community at their heart. Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City were the first examples.

The  Castle Hill housing development near Ebbsfleet International train station in North Kent, previously touted as a new garden city

The Government has announced seven garden towns and cities to date but the 14 new villages are the first of a new kind of development designed to alleviate concerns about large-scale schemes swamping existing towns.

Some of the planned developments announced today will turn smaller hamlets into larger communities, while others will expand existing towns on nearby land.

The plans are expected to create a series of new communities with green spaces, good transport links and high-quality affordable homes to help tackle the country’s housing shortage.

There are plans to extend the garden villages project further this year, with more funding being made available for local communities to bid for. Some £6 million in funding will go towards developing new villages, while £1.4 million has been earmarked for towns.

A number of today’s proposed garden villages and towns have significant local opposition. One of the towns, Harlow and Gilston – on the border of Herts and Essex – has prompted concerns that it would swamp two small hamlets with a current population of just 228, by adding 10,000 new homes.

Kevin FitzGerald, honorary director of CPRE Hertfordshire, said: “These plans herald the death knell of the rural character of whole swathes of Hertfordshire. Beautiful villages, supposedly protected by Green Belt, look set to be swallowed up by the urban sprawl of neighbouring towns.

“Housing targets are putting immense pressure on our area, and marginalising the basic purposes of the Green Belt which the Government has pledged to protect.”

The Government watered down ambitious plans for a series of new garden cities after strong local opposition and difficulty getting projects off the ground. Ebbsfleet, which received hundreds of millions of pounds worth of funding amid a promise of 15,000 new homes, has barely got off the ground and experts warn it has been quietly scrapped.

Today’s plans introduce the concept of garden villages instead, which will extend existing settlements according to plans drawn up by council leaders.

Ministers have thrown their support behind 14 of the sites, but all will need to clear planning hurdles in order to become a reality.

Last year Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, gave his support for building on Green Belt land as long as local communities had a desire to do so.

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2 thoughts on “May Squashes Garden Cities and Housing White Paper in Anti-Osborne Spite

  1. Pingback: Like ‘Rogue One’ Housing White Paper has been Watered Down by Sith Second Raters | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

  2. Pingback: Theresa the Nimby Appeaser – Thin and Weak Housing White Paper on the Way | Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

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