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Wolfson Prize Garden Cities: Barton Willmore calls for 40 new towns

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Barton Willmore has called for an ambitious plan to build 40 new towns and up to two million new homes across England and Wales in its final submission to the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize

The expanded number of towns would be spread across the country and located close to key cities such as Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Bristol. Each would consist fr between 40,000 - 50,000 homes, which together would bring total new housing to 1.6m - 2m homes if all the new settlements were built.

The Barton Willmore plan envisages the homes being built over the next 25 years.

Wolfson Garden Cities: Barton WIllmore

Wolfson Garden Cities: Barton WIllmore

Highlights of Barton WIllmore’s submission include:

  • 40 broad locations and at least four different typologies that can deliver Garden Cities in a wide range of places.
  • A national pro-development campaign focusing on the huge problems the housing crisis will unleash on future generations.
  • A robust financial model backed by EC Harris and extensive market testing.
  • Immense economic contribution equating to £69bn per settlement arising from construction alone.
  • Option to buy a stake in the new community offering people better quality affordable homes and the chance to own a stake in where they live.

According to the report, the four typologies have been designed to either deliver completely new settlement, potentially regenerate existing new towns, significantly extend existing places, or even link established settlements.

The locations identified by the submission offer not only land, but also a strong, economically viable, sustainable and attractive opportunity for a Garden City to be established.

Heat map of garden city potential across the UK

Heat map of garden city potential across the UK

The report also proposes establishing a Royal Commission, and Garden City Mayors heading up local Garden City Commissions, to champion garden cities and find specific locations for development in the broad regions mapped in the submission. 35% of new homes would be affordable housing for those on low incomes.

Speaking about their proposal James Gross, Lead author and Design Director at Barton Willmore said: ‘A wave of up 40 Garden Cities would make a fundamental difference to solving the national housing crisis.

‘This is not about a one size fits all solution, but up to 40 cities of 40-50,000 homes a piece, each delivering an average of 3,000 homes a year, would provide the additional housing completions per annum needed to meet our England’s growing need, and address the chronic housing shortfall.’

Cost analysis

As part of Barton Willmore’s submission, EC Harris undertook cost analysis of how to fund a potential future Garden Cities programme.

Explaining the economics behind the proposal Michelle Hannah, Senior Financial Analyst at EC Harris said: ‘To deliver any large scale proposal like this we need to be able to demonstrate to investors that this is a viable opportunity.

‘We have carefully modelled the Garden City as a whole and believe a broad portfolio of short and long term investors such as Pension Funds and smaller scale developers would be interested in this opportunity and reap strong returns, while still providing an economically stable and successful opportunity for communities to grow and flourish.’

Major institutions will not be the only ones who benefit from Barton Willmore’s Garden City model – people who buy a home in the Garden Cities will also be able to buy a stake in the community, while at the same time securing a discount on the cost of their home.

Up to 20 per cent of the cost of the new home will be invested in a long-term bond in the Garden City itself, providing an annual return for homeowners and generating funds to pay for infrastructure as the city grows.

EC Harris has also suggested a huge economic boost from each settlement over the 25 year period they would take to build: ‘Just the contribution of construction related spending on a Garden City could reach £69bn per settlement increase in GDP over the 25 years it would take to build,’ says Hannah.











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