Why the TCPA need to Improve Their Case for Garden Communities

I wondered this morning on what the TCPA case for Garden Communities was s it seemed the failure of a number of Garden Communities at appeal had a common theme. I must say I am a strong supporter of modernised Garden Communities.

Usefully they have a webpage.

The case for new Garden Cities can be made in three parts:

-Firstly, large-scale new communities are an important part of the portfolio of solutions that will be essential in tacking today’s acute housing shortage – a shortage which cannot be addressed exclusively on a plot-by-plot basis.

-Secondly, well planned new communities provide an opportunity to create high-quality sustainable places, allowing for the highest sustainability standards, economies of scale, and better use of infrastructure. A holistic approach to designing new communities provides an opportunity to consider how homes and neighbourhoods can be made attractive places in which to live and work, in environments which are socially inclusive and resilient to climate change. In the words of Raymond Unwin, one of the Garden City pioneers, Garden Cities offer a ‘more harmonious combination of city and country, dwelling house and garden’ – the exact opposite of the ‘bolt-on estates’ so often seen today.

-Thirdly, experience from the Garden Cities and New Towns shows that, properly managed and underwritten by the capture of land values, large-scale new developments can be good for business and society.

Unfortunately all three have an easy reposte when put as a specific proposal.

  • Yes but why here?
  • Yes but should apply on any scheme
  • Yes but should apply everywhere

The historic argument for Garden Cities was that cities were overcrowded and we needed planned decentralisation to locations that also had the economic advantages of cities (agglomeration effects). The decentralisation was to be strategic plans that created Green Belts with new towns beyond. The argument today needs adjusting. Certainly there is potential for densification however there are insufficient sites in land constrained areas to meet need in the most unaffordable areas, even radical redevelopment in areas like London will not produce housing on the pace and scale needed. In most market town areas brownfield sites and scope for large scale densification are in very short supply, they arn’t enough. This builds up a massive shofrtfall between what local plans plan for and what is needed, exacerbated by slow and low aspiration local plans. This shortfall needs to be met somewhere. Once the initial lag of the first phases are complete in the post war period high housing growth has only been achieved during build out of New Towns. Piecemeal small urban extensions are not enough. Hence we need a new generation of strategic plans setting out the gap in long term needs (30-40 years) will be bridged including through Garden communities on the best connected sites where zero carbon development and transport is possible.

The second argument – yes everywhere though it is easier to acheive with comprehensive planning.

The thrirs argument must be faced as without reform of land compensation rules Garden Communities will be unviable. Only where radical new infrastructure is needed and Ponte Gourde rules kick in will this apply.