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A new Garden City for London

Tuesday 29th May 2012

A new paper launched today, Heathrow Garden City, proposes a re-invention of the pioneering Garden City concept on the Heathrow airport site. Authored by Graeme Bell,  this audacious paper argues that Heathrow occupies a strategic situation in the outer London suburbs adjoining the Green Belt and is ideally situated for such a proposal, which could provide homes for up to 30,000 people.

Graeme Bell said:

“’Heathrow Garden City’ illustrates how the airport site could provide homes, employment and a full range of facilities and services served by good public transport, all set in an attractive landscape.  The paper highlights how it would be designed to be beautiful, environmentally sustainable, socially successful, financially sound and democratically delivered and governed.”

“The design is inspired by the original garden cities at Welwyn and Letchworth with their formal vistas and boulevards. And there will be echoes of leafiness and beauty found at Hampstead Garden Suburb and Bedford Park in the four garden suburbs and two urban villages in the new proposal.”

Following the recent debates that have taken place over the future of Heathrow Airport and the challenge of meeting London’s housing need, Heathrow Garden City follows in the tradition of ‘Tomorrow Series’ papers, which seek to promote debate and encourage innovative thought.

Heathrow Garden City imagines the possibilities that such a large brownfield site close to London could offer, comparable in size to the City of Westminster and twice the size of the Olympic Park.  It highlights the opportunity of the site to provide for London’s (and Londoner’s) need for jobs and housing in an environmentally sustainable development. The paper also purports that a new garden city would provide a unique opportunity to allocate at least 10 per cent of plots in the suburbs, around 800 homes, to custom and self build homes. The over-riding aim would be to secure enduring good quality of life to all who live and work there.

Graeme Bell added:

“Heathrow Airport brings great benefits to London in general and to the local economy in particular. As well as being a strategic hub in the nation’s transport infrastructure the UK’s premiere airport is a huge economic driver. But this comes at a high price for the local communities who suffer the environmental costs of Heathrow, such as noise and air pollution.”

Heathrow Garden City makes no comment on the location of a new airport hub, but Bell’s radical proposal highlights the need for London to take a long term, strategic and visionary approach to providing high quality, sustainable affordable housing in mixed communities and creating jobs; whilst also considering what the long term environmental and quality of life challenges that Heathrow’s continued expansion will present.

Notes to Editors:

1. Graeme Bell is a chartered surveyor and town planner. He is a Vice President of the TCPA, a former Director of the TCPA, Past President of the Planning Officers’ Society and Secretary of the National Planning Forum. He served on the DTI Foresight group looking at ‘speeding up the planning process’ where he examined the planning process for Manchester Runway 2.

2. Tomorrow Series’ papers are published by the Town and Country Planning Association in order to promote debate and encourage innovative thought. Views expressed in ‘Tomorrow Series’ papers are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the TCPA.

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