Local authorities set to be handed garden village delivery powers

Local authorities could be handed responsibility for development corporations set up to deliver garden towns and villages under an opposition amendment to the Neighbourhood Planning Bill that was accepted by the government yesterday, reports PlanningResource.

Ebbsfleet: garden city in Kent is being delivered by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation
Ebbsfleet: garden city in Kent is being delivered by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation

Speaking in the House of Lords during yesterday’s third reading debate, communities minister Lord Bourne said that the government is "very pleased" to support Lib Dem peer Lord Taylor’s amendment to the bill.

Bourne said that the amendment "seeks to support the creation of locally-led garden towns and villages by enabling the responsibility for any development corporation created under the New Towns Act 1981 to be transferred to a local authority or authorities, covering all or part of the area designated for the new town or village".

Taylor said that his amendment would hand "really strong power to communities to ensure that new towns are delivered at quality".

The New Towns Act current gives "all the power to the secretary of state who has no capacity to hand over the role of the corporations that will be set up to deliver these new settlements to the local councils that would bring them forward", he said.

Taylor added: "The principle of the amendment is to give the secretary of state the power to appoint one or more local authorities in the designated area of the new town to oversee the delivery of the new town and the new development corporation".

Taylor said that the functions that would be transferred to local authorities would be set out in secondary regulations.

Ebbsfleet in Kent is one garden city currently being delivered by a development corporation. 

A Liberal Democrat statement said that the amendment would give local authorities the power to purchase land cheaply, at its current value, rather than at its value for building, which "dramatically increases the cost".

"By capturing this ‘land value uplift’, local authorities will be able to invest in infrastructure for the new villages with the money saved, including good transport links, making them desirable places to live," the statement said.

Lord Taylor said: "It makes sense to create high quality new villages, rather than ruining historic towns and villages with endless add on housing estates of poor quality and without facilities. Now local councils can guarantee the quality and affordability of projects and build the housing that we need in the locations most suitable."

A longer version of this article first appeared on the PlanningResource website

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