TCPA launches new garden cities document after questioning Government commitment to model

The Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) is today launching a new set of garden city standards after questioning if the Coalition Government is serious about creating new garden cities.

The Art of Building a Garden City: Garden City Standards for the 21st Century is due to be launched in Parliament this afternoon with the support of former housing and planning minister Nick Raynsford MP, and will set out what garden city principles mean in the 21st century.

The standards consolidate the key lessons learned from the TCPA’s previous research into the challenges of delivering garden cities and detail what each of the garden cities principles entails as well as provide guidance on what it believes the principles should deliver to new communities. 

Later in the year, the TCPA will publish guidance on the practical implementation of the principles to offer additional clarity to local authorities, the private sector and communities interested in creating new garden cities.

The Government published its long-awaited Locally-Led Garden Cities: Prospectus on 15 April, calling for garden city proposals from local organisations by the end of August, but it did not go far enough in setting out what a garden city should be, according to the TCPA.

TCPA head of policy Hugh Ellis told Horticulture Week last week that his charity questioned if the Government was serious about garden cities. The only site so far identified, Ebbsfleet in Kent, was agreed before the prospectus was published. If the Government is to make this a true garden city, Ellis said, "it will have to up its game".

Interim chief executive Diane Smith said: "With planning in England currently in a precarious state, we strongly believe that the garden city principles can offer a framework for good planning for the benefit of all communities.

"The inclusion of the TCPA garden city principles in the DCLG Locally–led Garden Cities prospectus was a clear endorsement of the standards for which the TCPA has long campaigned for. However, to date there has been no commitment to making these principles part of Government policy.

"We therefore feel that it is vital that all who wish to be involved in the delivery of garden cities have a thorough understanding of what the principles mean today and how, with the correct level of preparation and organisation, they can be used to create the types of beautiful inclusive new places that can deliver significant benefits for current and future generations." 

The TCPA has been supported by the GVA, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, URS and No5 Chambers when drawing up the standards.

Senior director national head of planning development and regeneration at GVA Gerry Hughes said the Government’s policy briefing was "light on details" and this new document puts "meat on the bare bones of the Government’s recent policy announcements."

Jeremy Cahill QC, barrister at No5 Chambers said: "Bringing forward a new generation will require political and financial certainty which needs to be measured across decades rather than just years. It would represent a wasted opportunity for the important if not essential contribution to national housing provision that new Garden Cities offer to be treated as a political football."  

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