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What We Can Learn From History

I have been reading the letters of the Younger Pliny. If that sounds pretentious, it is rather. But there is a reason for it. We recently returned from a week-long holiday in southern Italy, in my case travelling with a twinge of -apos-flygskam-apos-, or flight shame, though clearly not enough. The ...

Posted by Nigel Pearce on 15 June 2019

A Manifesto For Our Future

The recent local government elections brought into office a significant number of independent candidates, and indeed many independent-minded members of our national parties. What they share in common is anger at having their planning system undermined by Whitehall to generate the sort of car-depende...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 05 June 2019

Jump To It, Chancellor

Setting no less a person than the Chancellor of the Exchequer four tests he must meet if the infrastructure needs of the nation are to be met sounds like it could be the action of a pretty independent body. With HM Treasury effectively running domestic policy, as it has done for some decades now, su...

Posted by Jon Reeds on 13 May 2019

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PRESS RELEASE Garden Communities - Why Communities Are Saying No

Added on 13 April 2018

"Garden communities" are central to the Government′s push for more housing, but the communities themselves who face imposition of garden towns or villages are identifying the massive shortcomings in the plans.

Now a group of opposition campaigns have set out their objections in a new report. Under the auspices of the Smart Growth UK coalition, six of those opposing Government-sponsored schemes and four fighting schemes dubbed "garden villages" by developers are setting out exactly why they say no.

Garden towns and villages are supposed to be "locally-led", but when local communities actually get a chance to be heard, they paint a different picture. Far from being locally-led, the cash-strapped councils who have been induced into supporting them in return for money have made themselves very unpopular with their communities.

"Our local authorities have become obsessed with meeting Government housing targets via four vast new settlements," says Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex secretary Rosie Pearson.

"But our 8,500 supporters say destroying 130 square kilometres of farmland and woodland without the infrastructure to support these new towns is utter folly."

The campaigns identify a range of reasons why garden communities are the wrong approach, including:-

They would be low-density greenfield development, squandering precious farmland and damaging the countryside

Very few make any serious use of brownfield land

All would necessitate massive provision of infrastructure, but proposals for it are totally inadequate

They would generate huge amounts of traffic on unsuitable local roads, increasing congestion, accidents and greenhouse gas emissions

They lack local support and provoke fierce opposition.

"We′re fighting to stop ′Bailrigg Garden Village′ covering a large area of countryside south of Lancaster with 3,500-5,000 houses and extensive road links to the M6," says Mary Breakell, co-founder and communications officer of the Citizens of Lancaster Opposed to Unnecessary Development group.

"There is little local need for these houses and they would exacerbate local flooding, cause traffic congestion and much of the infrastructure they&rsquod need lacks plans or costings."

But the current planning system in England is deaf to objections and obsessed with building raw numbers of houses, often the wrong kinds in the wrong places. Most of the homes in garden communities would be market homes for sale or buy-to-let and would do little or nothing for those in need of social housing.

"′Oxfordshire Cotswolds Garden Village′ is not in the Cotswolds and is planned to be a dormitory suburb of Oxford," says Nigel Pearce of the Eynsham Planning Improvement Campaign.

"As for the ′garden′ aspect, it would be surrounded by congested main roads, sit right next to a park & ride and have an existing industrial aggregate recycling plant in the middle of it. Not what it says on the tin."

Those with a vested interest dismiss opponents as "NIMBYs". But these are people campaigning to protect their local environment from those trying to profit from its destruction.

Smart Growth UK Report

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