In a paper by think-tank ‘Policy Exchange’, a new policy of devolved power to local authorities has been put forward, which would enable them to create ‘garden villages’ of between 1,500 and 5,000 homes.
They state that England should not rely on top-down government proposals for new garden cities alone, which in their words ‘echoes the kind of “state knows best” approach of command economies’.
Instead, author and National Housing Federation chair Lord Matthew Taylor believes local authorities should be empowered to use an updated New Towns Act to elect sites for new small market towns and villages as part of their local development framework documents.
Development corporations, set by councils, would be charged with master-planning, setting quality design standards for construction, and allocating some of the plots to self-builders and housing associations, for a ‘new wave’ of garden villages, the report adds.
The paper emphasises that the current strategy of building around existing communities on the green spaces at the edge of a town is resulting in high land values. This is leading to ‘developers building higher density and lower quality houses’, the document says, which is threatening the quality and character of the places in which we live.
Taking that development out of incumbent settlements and into the countryside would allow the preservation of the character of our current towns and villages, whilst pushing up standards and moving some way towards solving the current ‘housing crisis’.
Lord Taylor comments:
‘This is not a top down prescription by national government, but empowering both local people and thence the market to generate fantastic new communities that respond to the market and what local people want.
‘A single new garden village in each rural English local authority would create around a million extra homes – the homes we need, with the space and gardens, infrastructure, services and employment that people want, all without destroying the places we know and love.’
Interested to hear about different construction methods being trialled to combat the housing crisis? Read this month’s article on straw construction…