Press Reaction to Garden Villages
On bank holiday Monday DCLG announced the first 14 Garden Villages, as well as 3 more Garden Towns.
Reaction in the press has been questioning but positive. The Independent are slightly sceptical of “Lush greenery, bounteous employment, plentiful and fast transport links” but largely pro St Cuthberts near to Carlisle.
The Sun puts a very positive spin on the CPRE’s reaction quoting Shaun Spiers, “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.”
The Guardian’s Peter Walker wonders whether we shouldn’t be looking at Houten as a model:
At least one of these new garden villages should be modelled on somewhere like Houten in NL – car access possible, but bike lanes everywhere
— Peter Walker (@peterwalker99) January 2, 2017
The Spectator asks, can we “please get the bulldozers rolling“? Making the point that “Concentrating new homes in purpose-built new towns, villages and suburbs, where services and infrastructure are built as part of the development…. is the least painful way of accommodating the new homes which are so desperately needed”. Although then starts talking about land-banking which perhaps misses the point.
While over at Bike Biz Carlton Reid speculates on the opportunities for the bike industry and quotes Almere Consulting on the need for properly planned sustainable transport networks.
Responses in the local press across the country are more mixed, which reflects the feelings that people often have about new housing on their doorstep.
It’s worth repeating the point that the key thing about Garden Villages and Towns that has to be different is infrastructure contribution. The “Garden” term reflects historical context, and yes these communities need to be well landscaped, but their mixed use layout, the quality of urban design and investment in transport links is what the concept needs to deliver.
Realistically the villages won’t actually look like the Bike-Rail town of Houten, in the sense that they aren’t big enough for a ring road (or double donut) approach, although the Garden Towns perhaps could. This initiative isn’t a Vinex Plan, but it is a step forward. Hopefully some of these new places will demonstrate new ways to make walking, cycling and public transport work together to deliver less car dominated development.
One way or the other the UK is going to need to build a lot more new homes over the next decade. Garden Towns and Villages will be part of the mix and can and should be delivering better development than some of the urban extensions of the 90’s and 00’s.