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Garden Cities are not the only choice

22 November 2012

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for a new generation of Garden Cities and Suburbs, but presenting them as the only choice available is not the whole story.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) responds to Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s calls for a new generation of Garden Cities and Suburbs [1].
Kate Houghton, Planning Officer for CPRE, says: “CPRE agrees that we need to build more homes and create new communities. Garden cities incorporate some good ideas about how to do this, including an emphasis on people having an ownership stake in their own community, proper infrastructure provision, locally distinctive design and access to jobs near where they live. But the Deputy Prime Minister has made the mistake of completely ignoring the potential to regenerate our existing towns and cities to meet the current and urgent housing need and make them more desirable and sustainable places to live.”

The Deputy Prime Minister stated that in meeting housing need the choice is between ‘haphazard urban sprawl’ or a new generation of Garden Cities and Suburbs. 

Kate Houghton continued: “To portray this as our only choice is very misleading. Making the most of our existing towns and cities does not mean, as the Deputy Prime Minister suggests, ‘cramming ever more people into existing settlements, concreting over gardens and parks’. By demanding only the best design and strongest standards we can have the best of both worlds: public transport, cycling and walking as realistic travel options for most people; homes that meet the needs of all of the community, including families, the elderly and single people; jobs near to where people live; and generous green spaces. This is Smart Growth [2] – development based on up to date principles for high quality and environmentally friendly development that draws from the good and bad lessons of history, including the Garden Cities.”

There is sufficient brownfield land available in England to accommodate well over a million new homes [3]. It is bad for our towns and cities, and it is bad for the countryside, to waste this resource.

Kate Houghton concluded: “New Garden Cities and Suburbs might seem like the easiest option as the Government grapples with how to solve our housing crisis. Urban extensions incorporating the successful elements of Garden City and New Town planning could well be an important part of the solution. But by ignoring the huge potential to improve our existing towns and cities by building new communities in them, we will miss a crucial opportunity to usher in an era of truly sustainable development.”


Notes to Editors
[1] Deputy Prime Minster Nick Clegg, speech 22/11, National House Building Council conference.
[2] Smart Growth UK:
[3] Building in a small island: why we still need brownfield first,

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