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Public backs garden cities

Three quarters of Britons back plans to tackle the housing shortage by building a series of new garden cities

According to a poll run by the Wolfson Economics Prize, which announces the finalists in its garden cities ideas contest later this week, support for garden cities across the UK is growing.

The poll found that three out of four Britons think it is a good idea to meet the UK’s housing need by building controversial new garden cities.

Compared with how housing is currently delivered, 70 per cent said that building garden cities would be a better way to provide the UK’s much-needed new homes.

Support for the return to Ebenezer Howard-style, self-contained communities is highest among older people, homeowners, and conservative and UKIP voters, while more than two thirds believed the plans would better protect the countryside from development.

Simon Wolfson, founder of the Wolfson Economics Prize, said: ‘[This poll] demonstrates how popular garden cities would be as a solution to Britain’s mounting housing crisis. It is particularly interesting that older generations, more than others, support the building of new homes with gardens. Naturally, they aspire for their children and grandchildren to live in the quality of homes they themselves have enjoyed.’
 
Miles Gibson, prize director, added: ‘This poll is the largest ever conducted into attitudes towards the garden city concept, and it challenges the conventional wisdom in almost every respect. We found widespread support for new garden cities especially among older people and homeowners.

‘Garden cities are perceived as a rational alternative across the country, across the generations, and across the political spectrum. The poll also shows that, when people are asked individually how they would react, distaste for better and more direct compensation for the costs imposed by new development is much less evident than might be thought.’

Garden cities first emerged in the post-war building boom, and were pioneered by visionary architect Ebenezer Howard who 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.

Announced as part of the Budget back in March, the government confirmed a new the development of a new 15,000-home garden city in Ebbsfleet in Kent.

The announcement also included the opening of a new Garden City development corporation to drive the creation of ‘spacious, attractive, high quality places to live’ in the area modelled on garden cities like Letchworth or Welwyn Garden City.

Readers' comments (2)

  • The obvious question is how exactly can Local Authorities afford to purchase land at the the scale needed to create authentic Garden Cities?

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  • The second most obvious question (!) is what kind of developers can afford to purchase land at the scale needed? Or are we risking another LIFT/PFI lifetime of debt scenario? Dystopia versus utopia... discuss.

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