A recently published report by Policy Exchange has suggested that England’s 353 councils could each build a garden village containing 3,000 new homes. If each council accepted the proposal, this would mean that over one million new homes would be built over the course of the next ten years.
It’s expected that there would be some local opposition to new garden villages, but this could be overcome if the power to build them was transferred from Whitehall to local councils, the report says.
As part of the proposal, locally led development corporations would be charged with master-planning, setting quality design standards and allocating some plots of land to self-builders and housing associations. Councils deciding to build garden villages in order to meet their housing needs would be able to rule out having development around existing communities forced upon them through appeal.
In the report, Policy Exchange outlines what they believe to be the failings of the ‘boom years’ of 1997-2007, where only 148,000 homes were built per year. They believe that the current planning system is flawed as it revolves too much around current communities and high value green land.
Lord Matthew Taylor, author of the report and Liberal Democrat peer, stated his belief that we need to build around 300,000 new homes each year to meet what he labels as a “housing backlog” and meet current demand levels.
The Policy Exchange’s proposal would allow local authorities to use the New Towns Act to designate sites for small towns and villages, which would typically consist of 3,000 to 5,000 homes as part of their local plans.
If these new developments were to affect current homeowners then the local authorities would be expected to provide fair compensation to both homeowners and landowners. This would be at a flat rate of 150% of the market value at existing use.
The report makes 5 key proposals:
1. Empower local authorities to use the New Towns Act to designate sites for new small market towns and villages typically consisting of up to 5,000 homes as part of their Local Plans
2. Allow local authorities to pay fair compensation to homeowners and landowners affected by the new development at a flat rate of 150% of market value at the existing use
3. Ring-fence the subsequent land value uplift for the new community to provide for its infrastructure and amenities.
4. Make plots available to a range of competing providers, including self-build and smaller builders, responding to market demand
5. Rule out planning by appeal around existing towns and villages for local authorities making these allocations
If you’re interested in reading the report in full, you can download it from here.