For over a decade, the TCPA has led a re-invigorated campaign for a new generation of beautiful, inclusive, and resilient new Garden Cities as part of a portfolio of solutions to address Britain’s housing crisis. This has involved working cross-sector and at all levels of government to influence policy and legislation, raise awareness through guidance and training, and work with real places to explore the barriers, opportunities and practical solutions necessary to make new garden cities a reality.
Why Garden Cities?
Across the UK there is a chronic shortage of affordable housing, and this housing crisis is damaging people’s life chances. At the same time, much of the new housing being delivered is badly designed and in places which lack the basic social infrastructure needed to make healthy and vibrant communities.
How can we meet the shared ambition to build the number of homes we need in places we can be proud of – places that will enhance people’s health and wellbeing and be resilient to climate change?
Meeting the nation’s housing needs involves more than just delivering housing units – we need to create beautiful places which offer a wide range of employment opportunities a complete mix of housing types, including social and affordable housing; zero-carbon design; sustainable transport; vibrant parks; and local food sourcing.
As communities and councils, we have a clear choice. Do we want people to live in soulless housing estates and – as has resulted from recent changes to permitted development rules – converted flats with no windows? Or do we want our legacy to be one of quality and inclusion in communities we can all be proud of?
The TCPA believes that the answer lies in the Garden City development model – a proven way of funding, creating and maintaining successful high-quality places which have the environment and social justice at their heart. A true Garden City is a place created following the Garden City Principles.
The TCPA has produced a wealth of detailed guidance on how to build high-quality new places in its Practical Guide series, dealing in depth with relevant issues ranging from location and consent, and finance and delivery, to long-term stewardship, and planning for health and the arts. For more on the benefits of different types of development see ‘Creating Garden Cities and Suburbs Today – A Guide for Councils‘
Making it happen: updating the New Towns Act
The most effective way to make new garden cities a reality is by combining the high ideals of the garden city movement with the practical delivery mechanisms of the New Towns programme, learning the lessons about what has worked, and what has not. The New Towns Act led to the delivery of 32 New Towns in the UK which today provide homes for over 2.8 million people. This legislation is still on the statute books and with a few minor amendments could be made fit for purpose to deliver a new generation of Garden Cities. The TCPA has been at the forefront of exploring how to make it happen:
A short Myth-buster pamphlet aimed at tackling misconceptions around the Garden City idea.
In March 2021 TCPA published a briefing paper take stock of the current state of play and delivery barriers, drawing lessons from the New Communities Group and elsewhere to reveal some of the challenges surrounding the current debate on large scale development and to indicate key actions which local and national government to unlock this opportunity.
New planning legislation provides an opportunity to update the New Towns Act. The TCPA has worked cross-party to promote amendments to the Act through recent legislation, resulting in some progressive parliamentary debate.
In February 2014 the TCPA published a landmark document into how the UK can deliver the beautiful, inclusive and sustainable communities of the future.