Government must plan for zero-carbon new communities

The Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) is calling on Government to plan strategically for new zero carbon communities. Despite a decade of interest in the role of new communities as part of the solution to the nation’s housing crisis, and reference to Garden City Principles in national policy, there exists no strategic approach to identifying the most sustainable locations or scale, or securing the effective delivery of new communities which meet this ambition. While many councils are planning for smaller scale new communities as part of their growth plans, current Government policy makes realising the full ambitions of the Garden City Principles a real challenge.

In a briefing paper published on Monday 1st March, the TCPA takes stock of how new communities are being delivered under current Government policy, and the barriers and challenges faced by many local authorities and their delivery partners to achieve their high ambitions for sustainable growth.

The paper concludes that only a programme with the level of ambition and scale of the Post War New Towns, modernised for the C21st, will enable development of the right scale in the right place to enable Government to meet its commitments on climate change, as well as delivering the genuinely affordable homes the country desperately needs. 

The TCPA Osborn Fellow and Director of Communities, Katy Lock, said: ‘In the last 10 years, Government made a choice to prioritise housing numbers over quality and affordability. In that time, since the abandonment of zero carbon homes, a million new homes have been permitted which could be zero carbon, but are not. We need a delivery model for quality and affordability rather than piecemeal low-quality housing. We need a more strategic approach.

Lock added:

A year on from the 2020 Budget, which committed to exploring Development Corporations in the Oxford-Cambridge Corridor, the choices Government will make about ‘Building Back Better’ are still unclear. Will it result in de-regulated low-quality housing or places fit for the future? Will the welcome focus on high design standards be possible without the delivery mechanisms to pay for it? This week’s Budget, and consultations on planning reform and national policy provide the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of the past and plan strategically for sustainable growth. Government must seize this opportunity to do so.’


About the TCPA:

  1. The Town and Country Planning Association works to challenge, inspire and support people to create healthy, sustainable and resilient places where everyone can thrive.
  2. 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.

Notes to Editor:

  1. The publication can be found here.
  2. For further information, or comment, please contact [email protected] or call +44 20 8132 5455

Image: Painting by Bill Billings, Milton Keynes City Discovery Centre. 

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