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Clegg: Homeowners won’t lose out from garden cities

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has suggested homeowners could receive compensation if their homes are affected by plans for new garden cities

He told the BBC’s Countryfile programme that the government may buy homes or offer council tax cuts while development takes place. Measures similar to this are already in place for homes affected by major infrastructure projects such as HS2.

Clegg said: ‘We could maybe give deductions on their council tax for the period of time during which the garden city’s being built.

‘We could possibly also say to those homes where they think the price of their home will be affected, we will guarantee the price of their home by buying it, if you like, upfront.’

He added: ‘We are actively looking at things like that to show that we will go the extra mile to allay those concerns of people who feel that their property or the price of their home might be affected.’

‘We don’t want people to lose out.’

Back in April, the government announced plans for three new garden cities, for which Clegg said he wanted to see a shortlist of locations drawn up by the end of the year.

The three new towns will each include more than 15,000 homes and the coalition hopes they will ease the current housing shortage.

In June five finalists were announced in a contest to design a ‘visionary and economically viable’ new Garden City backed by Conservative peer Simon Wolfson. The winning scheme is expected to be announced in September.

Ebenezer Howard first set out plans for self-sufficient Garden Cities ringed by agricultural belts in 1898. Twenty-seven new towns were built in the UK in the post-war era following the success of England’s pioneering Letchworth and Welwyn garden cities.

Previous story (AJ 20.04.14)

Clegg: ‘We must bite the bullet and create garden cities’

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has called on the government to put aside party politics and create a new wave of garden cities in the south of England

The Liberal Democrat leader warned the housing crisis had been allowed to damage the economy because politicians on all sides believed it was ‘too difficult or electorally unpopular’ to create new towns.

He said the government should now be ‘honest and upfront’ and publish its Garden Cities investment prospectus which is understood to focus on two new Garden Cities at Yalding near Maidstone in Kent and Gerrards Cross in Buckinghamshire.

The deputy prime minister’s comments – published in The Daily Telegraph – come shortly after leading liberal democrats accused the prime minister David Cameron of suppressing the prospectus on political grounds.

Opposition to garden cities is understood to be based on fears new affordable housing could dilute and alienate Conservative support in rural areas.

However Clegg said developing garden cities with local support and private sector backing would protect the countryside and avoid the further expansion of ‘bloated towns’ and development on green belt land.

He said: ‘There is an arc around the South East of England where demand is past breaking point. The current situation is bad for the economy and places a massive strain on vital services.

He continued: ‘If we put aside partisan politics and think collectively about the housing needs of the next generation, we could set Britain on track for a major wave of new development, new jobs, and new hope.’

 In response, communities secretary Eric Pickles denied his department had drawn up any prospectus but admitted the government could build ‘a garden city or two’ where there was local support.

Speaking on Sky News’s Murnaghan programme he said: ‘I think we could probably produce garden settlements, we could produce a garden city or two - provided it is in places where people want it and there are authorities expressing an interest.

We could produce a garden city or two

He continued: ‘It is important to set up settlements where there is going to be some infrastructure there, where there is going to be roads and the like.

‘But it has to be on the basis of consent. After all, Labour promised five garden cities and produced none and when that failed to arrive they promised 10. All that happened with that policy was building resentment, not a single dwelling.’

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