Garden Villages – What are they?
One of the biggest property stories of the New Year was the government’s announcement that 14 garden villages and three garden towns will be built across the UK, providing up to 48,000 new homes. But what exactly is a garden village, and what will it mean for property buyers?
The idea builds on the garden city projects, masterminded by Ebenezer Howard in the late 19th century. Letchworth Garden City and, later, Welwyn Garden City were designed and built as green, commuter belt alternatives to London’s slums.
These newly proposed villages and towns follow the same basic idea, although the government has said there is no “single model” of design. The villages will be self-contained communities of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes, with shops, GP surgeries, transport links, schools, and green spaces – and will also provide new jobs for the local area.
Government plans set out that these villages should be built to a high quality, be attractive and well designed, and constructed as a response to meeting local housing needs. The aim is to ease some of the pressure on the country’s existing towns and cities, as a means of tackling the on-going housing crisis.
These new communities could be particularly significant for first-time buyers, who, according to the plans, will be offered discounts of at least 20% on high-quality garden village starter homes.
£6 billion of government funding is planned for investment into the new communities for areas around Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire, Devon, Hampshire, Cornwall, Essex, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Surrey, Lancaster, Derbyshire, Cumbria and Cheshire.
The three new towns, in Aylesbury, Taunton, and Harlow/Gilston, will receive an additional £1.4 million in funding.
Most of these developments are expected to be built on previously developed brownfield sites, although there are concerns that a small number will use green belt land.
Before this latest announcement, there were already existing plans in place for seven new garden towns and cities in Aylesbury, Taunton, Bicester, Didcot, Basingstoke, Ebbsfleet, and Northamptonshire. In total, it’s hoped the new garden developments will provide almost 200,000 homes.
Government housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said: “Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need.”
However, critics are concerned that the plans do not go far enough. Former housing minister Grant Shapps MP, whose constituency includes Welwyn Garden City, told the BBC: “The whole idea of having an area that you live in, where you can walk to work or take local transport to work, that is one of the fundamentals of a garden city. What worries me about these announcements is perhaps it is just a good name to tag on to more housing development, rather than somewhere which would be brilliant to live, bring up children, work and play.”
Meanwhile, the shadow housing secretary John Healey said: “In the last six years we built fewer homes than under any peacetime prime minister since the 1920s. The country deserves a proper plan for fixing the housing crisis, not just more hot air.
Elsewhere, though, local councillors welcomed the announcement, saying it would help young people in their areas to get onto the property ladder.
(Garden villages: Locations of first 14 announced – BBC News. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38486907)