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‘70,000 homes planned’ amid new garden cities push

The government has been accused of suppressing a report outlining plans for new garden cities, while pushing ahead with plans for 70,000 new ‘garden city’-style homes

Figures contained in a parliamentary answer by housing minister Kris Hopkins suggests it has plans for tens of thousands of new homes in the south of England, despite the government allegedly having cold feet over new garden cities – reported The Daily Telegraph.

The revelation comes shortly after senior Liberal Democrat’s accused the Conservative prime minister David Cameron of blocking the publication of plans for two new garden cities in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire.

Speaking to the same newspaper last week, Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron said: ‘This report needs to come out now and come out quickly. The Tories are displaying a Nimby attitude towards garden cities.’  

Liberal Democrat deputy prime minister Nick Clegg vowed to resurrect the ‘proud tradition’ of Britain’s garden cities movement in a bid to boost UK housebuilding two years ago. But leading Tories are said to be nervous about announcing new homes in the Conservative heartlands .

Hopkins answered a question from Labour’s shadow housing minister Emma Reynolds about the garden cities prospectus on 25 November.

Speaking in the House of Commons, he said: ‘To date, our large sites programme has provided total investment now of over £82.7 million of recoverable capital funding and nearly £6 million of capacity funding to bring forward up to 69,000 new homes.’

He continued: ‘We are supporting local ambitions for locally-led new communities that incorporate high quality and design standards, including garden city principles. We have provided support for the development of new communities such as:

  • ‘Cranbrook near Exeter, where we have invested over £20 million to create up to 6,300 homes and 1,500 jobs;
  • ‘Wokingham, where we have invested over £25 million to enable the development of up to 2,500 new homes and a Science and Innovation Park;
  • ‘Sherford, where our investment of over £32 million will accelerate up to 5,500 homes and approximately 5,000 new jobs;
  • ‘Ebbsfleet, where DCLG, DFT and the Highways Agency worked in close collaboration with local authorities and developers to find solutions to transport issues at eastern Quarry, helping to bring forward a site with wider potential for up to 22,000 homes.

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.

Housing minister Kris Hopkins said: ‘As promised in the coalition agreement, this Government has scrapped top-down Whitehall planning, included ending the last Administration’s failed so-called eco-towns programme which built nothing but resentment. Instead, this Government is committed to working with local communities to build more homes and promote sustainable development.

‘This includes providing finance for those large scale housing projects that are locally-supported and have the full backing of the community.’

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