New Garden Communities Prospectus – ‘ not about … places which just use ‘garden’ as a convenient label.

Two cheers to the Ministry – a far more ambitious second prospectus bringing back some of the ambitions from the Ecotowns prospectus regarding sustainability.

MHCLG

This prospectus invites bids for ambitious, locally supported, proposals for new garden communities at scale. In return for tailored assistance to help design and deliver the vision for these places, we expect local areas to deliver significant housing and economic growth. We will look to assist as many as we can, in locations where there is sufficient demand for housing.
What do we mean by garden communities?
This prospectus does not prescribe a single template for a garden community. Each garden community we choose to assist will have its own clear and distinct sense ofidentity.
Equally, this is not about creating dormitory towns, or places which just use ‘garden’ as a convenient label. This is about setting clear expectations for the quality of the development and how this can be maintained (such as by following Garden City principles). We want to see vibrant, mixed-use, communities where people can live, work, and play for generations to come – communities which view themselves as the conservation areas of the future. Each will be holistically planned, self sustaining, and
characterful.

Some thoughts

  1.  Much more pragmatic this time, more of a process that submitting an immediate proposal and recognising you cant define a boundary and do a viability testing in 9 weeks
  2. The prospectus is much more focused on innovation and best practice similar to the Ecotowns prospectus – mentioning renewable energy use, net environmental gain and impacts of climate change, alternative to the car and not just being dormitory suburbs.  But no mention of carbon reduction, still a long way to go.
  3. A stronger focus on opportunities for land value capture than the old draft is most welcome., including through land acquisition and assembly potentially through development corporations.
  4. Plans of course need to be realistic about degree of self containment whilst avoiding the trap of becoming dormitories.  It uses the term ‘All proposals must be of sufficient scale to be largely self-sustaining’ but what does that mean and what degree of self containment is envisaged?
  5. The CM-MK_OX corridor – we never did see the 4 New Towns within 6 weeks as promised by Javid but we do see ‘ For proposals within the Cambridge – Milton Keynes – Oxford corridor, Government will
    continue to work with local partners to consider how the delivery of new homes and settlements can best support the overarching vision for the axis. This includes the contribution these places can make to the National Infrastructure Commission’s finding that up to 1 million homes will need to be built in the corridor by 2050, if the area is to maximise its economic potential. ‘  Indeed the timing  seems to be designed around the Autumn Budget.
  6. The more sustainable and deliverable garden Communities proposals become the more the CPRE grumble gammon fashion like an old man complaining about the height of hemlines – that’s because they know that well designed and well planned Gardens Communities will lead to more housebuilding.  Matt Thompson Soubs

The prospectus is another example of the ‘garden’ soubriquet [sic] being applied to even more random development proposals, which all seem to lead to low-density, car-dependent, residential-led sprawl”.

Isn’t the prospectus talking about moving away from ‘residential led sprawl’ – ‘which just use ‘garden’ as a convenient label.’  Its founder Patrick Abercrombie would lose his monocle over such a crude slur that Gardens Communities are sprawl and incompatible with the CPRE’s aims.

Its sobriquet.

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