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Rogers hits out at garden cities proposals

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Richard Rogers has reiterated his calls for the government to focus building on brownfield land rather than build new garden cities

Rogers was reacting to the winning proposals for the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize, which was picked up by Manchester-based masterplanner URBED for its proposals for as many as 40 new garden cities in England.

The 81 year-old architect and Labour peer has previously hit out at suggestions the housing crisis could be solved through new greenfield developments, saying the move threatened the revival of cities and ‘undermined urban amenities and wasted land’ (see below).

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday (8 September), Rogers said: ‘If we build new greenfield settlements we will be emptying out existing cities and that is a ridiculous idea.

’There will be a point in time to come when we will need to use greenfield land, but we are not anywhere near it yet’.

We are not at the point when we need to use greenfield land

He added: ‘We have 61,000 hectares of brownfield land in England and the government has approved half of it as potentially suitable for development. That would allow 1.3million dwellings to be built even at a low density. That excludes the 400,000 dwellings with planning permission but not yet built and intensification of housing around round existing urban hubs.’

URBED’s winning submission for the £250,000 economics prize proposed a city of 400,000 people, created by doubling the size of an existing town and building on the surrounding green belt.

But the scheme had also been criticised by conservative housing minister, Brandon Lewis, who had said the government would not be taking up the plans.  

Last week, Lewis told the AJ: ‘We do not intend to follow the failed example of top-down eco-towns from the last administration.’

‘We are committed to protecting the green belt from development as an important protection against urban sprawl - yesterday’s proposal from Lord Wolfson’s competition is not Government policy and will not be taken up.

He added: ‘Instead, we stand ready to work with communities across the country who have ideas for a new generation of garden cities and we have offered support to areas with locally-supported plans that come forward.’


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Readers' comments (1)

  • Geoff Haslam

    I suspect that neither Lord Rogers, nor Brandon Lewis have read the Urbed proposals.
    Urbed state: "As good urbanists we also would argue
    that this should sit alongside policies for urban
    infill and consolidation along with the continued
    growth of London and the great regional
    cities. The type of Garden City that we suggest
    does not stand in opposition to urban infill or
    to brownfield development."

    What does Lewis envisage? A house-builders free for all with weak/non-existent infrastructure? Same old same old then; who wants that?

    Urbed propose that the infrastructure is (a) expanded use of existing and (b) funded by borrowings, paid back over an extended period, as Garden Cities were originally did.

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