Garden communities struggling to get off ground, research finds

Only a third of proposed houses under the government’s garden communities projects have been given planning permission, according to new research.

The research by the planning consultancy Lichfields claims two thirds of the proposed homes in the 49 garden community projects around the country are ‘subject to ongoing levels of planning risk’ because they are either still in the planning process or at still at the emerging plan stage.

Only a third have planning permission or have been allocated in a council’s adopted local plan.

The scheme was first launched by the government in 2014 and was re-launched by the-then communities secretary, James Brokenshire in August 2018.

At the time, Mr Brokenshire said the programme already has the potential to provide over 200,000 new homes by 2050, and ‘we want to go further’.

The government defines a garden town as a development of more than 10,000 homes, while garden villages have between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.

According to the Lichfield analysis, there are currently 49 proposed garden towns and villages, which are set to provide a total of 403,000 new homes, up to 182 new primary schools and 56 secondary schools.

But the report adds that large-scale developments, like new garden towns, can ‘take a long time to begin delivering’.

‘By its very nature, the garden communities programme would not be expected to reach critical mass of delivery until the 2030s,’ the report adds.

The report also claims around half of garden communities already had some adopted allocations or outline permissions at the time when they were designated as such by the government.

‘This suggests that in some cases, the designations are existing projects that have been “badged” as garden communities and/or their place within the programme is intended to signal support for their delivery rather than to establish the principle of development,’ the report states.

It also notes that the garden communities have already delivered approximately 14,000 homes up to April 2019, with the vast majority of these within garden towns as opposed to garden villages.

But it adds they have typically comprised extensions to existing settlements. Bicester, Aylesbury and Didcot alone make up around 14% of homes already completed in garden communities.

Photo Credit – Borevina (Pixabay)

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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