First 'garden villages' could support 48,000 homes in England, says government

Out-Law News | 05 Jan 2017 | 10:24 am | 2 min. read

The government has announced the locations of the first garden 'villages' in England, in which more than 48,000 homes could ultimately be built.

The 14 sites will have access to a £6 million pot of dedicated government funding over the next two financial years, along with other sources of public funds such as the new £2.3 billion Housing Infrastructure Fund. The new funding will be used to provide additional resources and expertise where needed to accelerate development and avoid delays.

The government will also provide "expertise, brokerage and offer of new planning freedoms" in support of the new developments, according to the announcement.

The new garden villages will be distinct places with their own community facilities rather than extensions to existing urban areas, and will each have between 1,500 and 10,000 homes. Approved sites include Long Marston in Stratford-upon-Avon, West Carclaze in Cornwall and St Cuthberts in Cumbria.

The government has also announced the creation of three new larger scale garden 'towns' at Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston, each of which will include more than 10,000 homes. These new projects, which will benefit from £1.4n in government funding, take the total number of garden towns and cities announced by the government to 10.

"The number of sites supported reflects the high number of expressions that the government received," said planning law expert Matthew Fox of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind

"Whether the smaller size of these 'villages' will help to expedite the developments remains to be seen but certainly the welcome, if limited, funding announced may go further spread across these smaller projects. Given the important requirement for bids to show they have the support of local authorities and development partners, this will hopefully mean housing will come forward more quickly," he said.

Fox pointed out that the announcement did not explain if the successful bids would receive further support, as set out in the prospectus for garden towns and villages published last year.

"For example, the government has just announced the first round of successful entrants to the Starter Homes Fund, but it is not clear whether this includes these garden villages. The prospectus also discussed greater planning freedoms for local authorities which were proposing villages over the objectively assessed housing needs for their area, but this is not mentioned further in the current announcement," he said.

"The speed at which the garden settlements are able to be brought forward, the continued local authority support during the planning application process to drive through the schemes and the exact nature of support that the government provides to facilitate the projects will be crucial to the government achieving its housing growth aims in this parliament," he said.

The government intends to make an additional £1m in funding available this year for further development of additional garden village proposals, in response to the high level of expressions of interest it received in response to the prospectus, according to the announcement.

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