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Last edited 19 Feb 2021
The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) suggests that a garden city is a ‘...holistically planned new settlement which enhances the natural environment, tackles climate change and provides high quality housing and locally accessible jobs in beautiful, healthy and sociable communities’.
They were described in Ebenezer Howard’s 1898 publication ‘To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform’ as having, ’...the advantages of the most energetic and active town life, with all the beauty and delight of the country...'
Howard went on to become founder of the Garden City Association (now the Town and Country Planning Association) and by 1903, land had been purchased for the first Garden City at Letchworth. This was followed in 1919 by land acquisition for the creation of Welwyn Garden City. These projects were followed by the New Towns programme in the aftermath of the Second World War, which promoted the development of larger, 'new towns' such as Milton Keynes.
The Garden City idea has remained popular, and the TCPA suggests that 21st century Garden City principles include:
- Land value capture for the benefit of the community.
- Strong vision, leadership and community engagement.
- Community ownership of land and long-term stewardship of assets.
- Mixed-tenure homes and housing types that are affordable for ordinary people.
- A strong local jobs offering within the garden city, with a variety of employment opportunities within easy commuting distance of homes.
- Beautifully and imaginatively designed homes with gardens, combining the very best of town and country living to create healthy homes in vibrant communities.
- Generous green space linked to the wider natural environment, including a surrounding belt of countryside to prevent sprawl, well connected and biodiversity-rich public parks, and a mix of public and private networks of well-managed, high-quality gardens, tree-lined streets and open spaces.
- Opportunities for residents to grow their own food, including generous allotments.
- Strong local cultural, recreational and shopping facilities in walkable neighbourhoods.
- Integrated and accessible transport systems – with a series of settlements linked by rapid transport providing a full range of employment opportunities (as set out in Howard’s vision of the ‘Social City’).
 Locally-led Garden Cities
The supply of new homes remains a key priority for the UK government, and in April 2014, it published the Locally-led Garden Cities prospectus (now archived) which set out a broad support package for local authorities to develop garden cities. The prospectus aimed to provide guidance for proposals which had to be locally-led, include at least 15,000 homes and be supported by existing residents.
More than £1 billion in funding was set aside between 2015 and 2020 which was hoped might deliver up to 250,000 homes. The government offered a variety of support, depending on the requirements of the local authority:
- Brokerage: support in working across government with Homes England to co-ordinate partners to overcome potential barriers.
- Direct planning: support from Homes England's Advisory Team for Large Applications who can assist with the planning and design process.
- Capacity funding: Available for support at the local level to help with the detailed development and implementation of new proposals.
- Capital funding: The government working with local partners to identify private-sector funding options which could include bids into existing funding programmes which the government will facilitate.
- Freedoms and flexibilities: Any assistance with freedoms and flexibilities that may help with the development of garden cities are invited.
In December 2015, it was announced that two new ‘garden towns’ were being supported with £1.1 million funding. The proposals for Didcot in Oxfordshire and for North Essex was expected to provide up to 50,000 new homes by 2031. Other government-recognised ‘garden town’ projects include; Ebbsfleet in Kent, Bicester in Oxfordshire, Basingstoke and North Northants. See Garden towns for more information.
In the 2016 budget, the government announced it would legislate to make it easier for local authorities to work together to create new garden towns, as well as consult on a second wave of Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) reforms with the objective of making the CPO process clearer, fairer and quicker. It also announced technical and financial support to areas that wanted to establish garden villages and market towns of between 1,500 to 10,000 homes.
In March 2016, the government published Locally-led garden villages, towns and cities, a prospectus inviting expressions of interest from local authorities wanting to create new communities based on garden city principles.
In February 2019, the government announced a £9 million cash injection to speed up the locally-led building of new garden towns and villages, helping get 21 sites ready for development. Ref https://www.gov.uk/government/news/cash-boost-to-help-build-200000-homes-in-new-garden-towns
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- Practical guide on health in garden cities.
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