Communities with ideas for a new generation of garden cities will receive support from the government to turn their ambitions into reality, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced today (14 April 2014).
A prospectus published today will help communities work up proposals for ambitious new developments, which are locally-led, include at least 15,000 homes and have the backing of existing residents.
There is genuine enthusiasm and ambition for growth in communities across the country, but new developments must be well-designed, and bring together high-quality homes, jobs, and green spaces in communities where people want to live raise their children.
We want to work closely with areas which bring forward strong expressions of interest to help them develop their proposals, understand the barriers to delivery and offer government brokerage and support through the Large Sites scheme and other existing schemes where it can help to unblock these.
Ministers believe these locally-led developments will play a crucial role in delivering the number of new homes the country needs, but it is vital that they are not imposed from above.
That’s why today the government also invited bids for the £1 billion of investment announced in the 2013 Autumn Statement to unlock local housing schemes of over 1,500 homes, which have their plans in place but need assistance to get the development off the ground.
The funding will unlock up to 250,000 new homes between 2015 and 2020, and provide a springboard for successful bidders who also want to deliver locally-led garden cities.
Investment will be provided through the local infrastructure fund, which is already accelerating development of 69,000 homes in areas such as Cranbrook in Devon, and Wokingham in Berkshire.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:
Garden cities are communities where future generations will live, work, have children, grow up and grow old.
Today I’m publishing a new garden cities prospectus, which calls for local areas to submit their plans for garden cities that will provide affordable homes, good schools, and jobs for the next generation, while at the same time preserving the countryside.
This is a call to arms for visionaries in local areas in need of housing to put forward radical and ambitious proposals to develop their own garden cities.
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
The coalition government scrapped top-down building targets, along with the last administration’s failed eco-towns programme, which built nothing but resentment.
Instead, this government is committed to working with local communities who want to build more homes in attractive and sustainable developments where people can live and raise their families.
Our £1 billion large housing sites infrastructure fund and package of support will help deliver locally-led developments in communities that want more growth and jobs in their area. It will also assist those areas with ideas for a new generation of garden cities, so they can turn their ambitions into reality.
Support for communities with big ambitions
New garden cities can incorporate the principles that people most value, such as quality design, gardens, open green spaces and community facilities.
Planning a significant new scheme from scratch can deliver major benefits that are hard to achieve through smaller, piecemeal, developments. Larger settlements can be designed with long-term local needs in mind, include good transport connections, and use previously developed brownfield land wherever possible.
The government wants the new garden cities to be locally-led, but planning such a complex project will be a challenge for any community, so local areas will be offered support to help deliver their ambitions.
Ministers will welcome proposals that reuse brownfield sites that have been previously developed, provided that they are not of high environmental value. Proposals should also have the support of the local council, including at district and county level in 2-tier areas.
The package of support from the government for locally-led garden settlements could include:
Working across government with the Homes and Communities Agency to co-ordinate key partners and assist sites in overcoming barriers to delivery, including assistance with planning and non-planning consent regimes.
Direct planning support
Successful expressions of interest will receive support from the ATLAS (Advisory Team for Large Applications) team in the Homes and Communities Agency.
A limited amount of funding will be made available from within the Department of Communities and Local Government’s existing budget to create the capacity at the local level for design, planning, and professional costs of developing a proposal for a new garden settlement. This approach has already had a positive impact through the large sites programme in at places such as Wokingham, Cranbrook, Bicester and Didcot.
Funding for Ebbsfleet
Ministers are determined to support locally-led developments that have previously stalled. That’s why, in this year’s Budget, the Chancellor set out plans to form a dedicated Urban Development Corporation, in consultation with local MPs, councils and residents, to drive forward the creation of Ebbsfleet Garden City. The government will make available up to £200 million of infrastructure funding available to kick start development..
Ebbsfleet is just 19 minutes from central London, and has long been identified as having great development potential. However, investment and progress have been stalled for decades, which is why the government will create a powerful new body to drive and promote the scheme, co-ordinate investment from government and solve the issues that have held back development.