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Can Garden Towns and Villages Tackle Housing Crisis?

The Government has recently announced its intention to build new ‘garden’ towns and villages across England to help tackle the housing crisis.

The plan calls for the delivery of 14 new villages that contain 1,500 to 10,000 new residences. The new homes will be built on the outskirts of existing communities. An additional three towns consisting of over 10,000 homes each will be constructed outside Harlow & Gibson, Aylesbury,  and Taunton.

The first announcement from Theresa May in 2017 suggests that she will make housing one of her top priorities. The previous Conservative government experienced heavy criticism because it failed to build more homes. These new plans are being applauded by campaign groups despite earlier worries that garden cities would put more pressure on infrastructure and cause urban sprawl.

The housing minister said that the villages will create nearly 50,000 new homes between Cheshire and Devon. The new towns and villages combined will bring the grand total to 200,000 new homes.

Gavin Barwell said that these garden towns and villages can potentially deliver new jobs and facilities as well as new homes.

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Campaign groups had previously opposed these developments over concerns about building on green-belt land. Last year their opposition stalled the progress of a project in Ebbsfleet.

Shaun Spiers chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE)  has generally welcomed the new plan which will include some development of green spaces. His group will closely examine specific proposals to confirm that they are led at the local level and respect the Green Belt.

Garden cities were originally conceived in 1898, with Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City being the earliest examples.

The plans are expected to create new communities with plenty of green space in addition to favourable transport links and quality affordable homes.

The garden villages project is expected to be extended further in 2017, with local communities are given access to a new fund. Communities will have to bid for the additional funding with around £6m available for new villages, while £1.4m has been made available for towns.

Many of the proposed garden villages and towns have aroused local opposition. The Government altered earlier plans for a series of garden cities after funding difficulties and local opposition arose.

Today’s plans for the concept of garden villages will extend current settlements using plans that local council leaders draw up.

Ministers have pledged their support for 14 of the locations, but all of them will need to obtain planning consent in order to become a reality.

Last year Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said he supported green belt development as long as it was in accord with community wishes.

An Ebbsfleet Development Corporation said that last year its garden city made major progress, with developers planning to build over 500 homes. During the first few months of 2017, the planning committee will discuss plans for more homes at Northfleet and Eastern Quarry.

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