Housing White Paper: A Garden City opportunity

Our residential experts have digested the Government’s Housing White Paper. Ian Tipton, previously Bournville Village Trust architect, gives his reaction to the opportunity that exists in creating new Garden Cities and Villages.

My overall reaction is one of relief that the Government acknowledges that every part of the housing system is broken and requires change.

I’m staggered that no-one, apart from the Town & Country Planning Association seems to have picked up on the government’s commitment to update the New Towns legislation. The White Paper proposes to enable the creation of locally accountable New Town Development Corporations which could be used as the delivery vehicle for local areas if desired.

This has real significance for the delivery of the new garden settlements that must, I believe, play a part in easing the housing crisis. Perhaps most importantly, it increases the opportunity for communities to benefit from land value capture, one of the central tenets of the original garden cities movement.

Related to this is the Green Belt issue. Personally I think there are some interesting ‘shots across the bows’ here. Whilst there is some contradiction on the White Paper –understandably given the need to appease as well as build – there is a hint that preserving the Green Belt for the sake of it, with no public access and only for the benefit of the fortunate few who overlook it, is not desirable.

If we could replace parts of the Green Belt (and we’re realistically talking about a tiny proportion) with more and better parkland in our towns and cities that people could use (without being members of the National Trust) then we may end the presumption that urban centres and for the young and the suburbs for families.

Which brings us back to the potential for capturing the value of the land to facilitate the establishment of proper green spaces in new settlements.