Wednesday, 21 April 2021

‘Garden villages’ to create thousands of UK homes

LONDON: Britain’s first wave of “garden villages” has been given the nod along with three more garden towns, in a move that aims to build up to 200,000 new homes. The 14 village projects of 1,500 to 10,000 homes each are a new addition to the government’s programme of garden town construction. Garden towns and villages are based on the urban planning ideas of development pioneer Ebenezer Howard, who in the 1890s set out the idea of planned, self-contained settlements surrounded by a ring of countryside.  The earliest garden towns, constructed in the 1900s, included Letchworth and Welwyn. The idea was revived in the 1940s to cope with postwar slum clearance, resulting in the construction of a wave of new towns. They proved controversial, however, with the decline of single-industry major employers in Britain hitting many medium-sized towns hard in recent decades. A report published in 2015 argued that the new towns never achieved sufficient scale to be economically successful. Conservation campaigners have expressed concerns about building new settlements on countryside land. However, such projects can be appealing for local politicians whose electorates are often opposed to more development in existing neighbourhoods.

In the government’s push for new garden settlements, towns are already being built in locations including Bicester, Basingstoke, Didcot, Ebbsfleet, Aylesbury, Taunton and North Northamptonshire, and more are planned. These include the three new garden towns – in Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow – approved on Monday, along with £1.4m of funding to help create them. The government will also put £6m towards funding the newly announced garden villages, it said. In both cases the cash will be used to speed up construction, bring in expertise and unlock extra capacity on construction sites. The settlements will also enjoy special planning freedoms in a bid to encourage developers. Garden towns are settlements of more than 10,000 homes, while garden villages comprise 1,500-10,000. The villages – which could total up to 48,000 homes – will be distinct new places rather than extensions to existing urban areas, and span the country from Cumbria to Devon. Gavin Barwell, housing minister, said the concept of garden villages and towns had “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,” he said.

The new garden villages are: 

● Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon
● Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire
● Deenethorpe in East Northamptonshire
● Culm in Mid Devon
● Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire
● West Carclaze in Cornwall
● Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex
● Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven District, Lincolnshire
● Hallsmead in Knowsley, Merseyside
● Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath
● Bailrigg in Lancaster
● Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire
● St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria
● North Cheshire in Cheshire East

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