Could “Garden ‘Villages’” Solve the Housing Crisis?

Policy Exchange (an educational charity and think tank) has issued a report which calls for ‘garden villages’ to be built in each local authority area to solve issues with housing supply and demand. 

Policy Exchange writes:
Over one million new homes could be built over the next decade if each of the 353 councils in England built just one garden village of 3,000 new houses.

A new report by leading think tank Policy Exchange argues that a future government can overcome local opposition to development by devolving powers to set up new garden villages from Whitehall to councils. Under the proposal, locally led development corporations, set by councils, would be charged with master-planning, setting quality design standards for the construction, and allocating some of the plots to self builders and housing associations, for a new wave of garden villages.  As part of a quid-pro-quo, councils agreeing to build new garden villages sufficient to meet their housing need would be allowed to rule out having development around existing communities forced on them through appeal…

The report calls for a radical new approach based on amending the New Towns Act to create financially viable new garden villages:

  • Empower local authorities to use the New towns Act to designate sites for new small market towns and villages typically consisting of up to 5,000 homes as part of their Local Plans
  • Allow local authorities to pay fair compensation to homeowners and landowners affected by the new development at a flat rate of 150% of market value at the existing use
  • Ring-fence the subsequent land value uplift for the new community to provide for its infrastructure and amenities.
  • Make plots available to a range of competing providers, including self-build and smaller builders, responding to market demand
  • Rule out planning by appeal around existing towns and villages for local authorities making these allocations

Lord Matthew Taylor, author of the report said: ‘Over the next 20 years we need to build around 300,000 new homes every year to keep up with demand and address the existing backlog of housing need. The current planning system – based on tacking on homes to existing towns and villages – ramps up local opposition to new development and makes it politically challenging for councils to meet local housing need.  Our planning system also makes it predictable which land will eventually be released for development. The undersupply ratchets up the value of this land exponentially. As the land is acquired much of the financial gain are captured by the landowners and speculators, not the local community.  It is therefore vital that we turn the system on its head. Empowering councils to create new garden villages to meet local housing demand and capture all the land value uplift is critical if we are to win over the support of existing residents and build the homes we so desperately need.

View the press release

Download the report

IHBC newsblogs on housing

IHBC newsblogs on garden cities

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