Landscape Institute supports garden cities call

The Government's call for new, locally-led, garden cities has been welcomed by the Landscape Institute, as part of a range of measures aimed at increasing housing supply.

The LI says garden cities provide an "exciting opportunity" to encourage a revolution in the way we plan and deliver new communities, with "truly sustainable lifestyles as the new imperative".

But it adds: "To achieve this, the new generation of garden cities must demonstrate the very best in landscape planning and design, from the outset of their development. By adopting this landscape-led approach, change in the landscape is not to be feared, and we will make the most of our precious land resource."

The LI says learning from the 19th century garden cities to ensure that new garden cities are fit for the future is important: "Garden cities of the future must similarly respond to current issues, but also need to address the challenges of sustainability and climate change, and respond to 21st century society’s needs, expectations and aspirations."

The Landscape Institute has identified five guiding principles which it believe must be followed to ensure that new garden cities are fit for the 21st century and beyond.

Principle 1 says start with the landscape. "The vision for any new garden city must first and foremost be informed by an understanding of the characteristics unique to its specific location; its local landscape character. These include natural factors, such as landform, hydrology, biodiversity, geology, soils and climate, and also human influences such as historic and current land use and the perceptions of the local community," the LI says.

Principle 2 focuses on  working within the landscape.  "Garden cities must respond positively to the opportunities provided by their environment. Layout, form, open spaces, architecture and choice of materials must reflect landscape context and help create a distinctive character and a sense of identity for the new communities."

Principle 3 says develop a positive relationship between town and country. " Setting the limits of built development from the outset will prevent future suburban sprawl; new garden cities must avoid development on the best and most versatile agricultural land in the interest of future food and farming".

Principle 4 says build a place worth living for life.  "Garden cities must provide a ‘home for life’. They must be designed to be adaptable, dynamic, exciting and beautiful places that delight residents, workers and visitors. They must be resilient in the face of changing weather patterns and flexible enough to respond to the depletion of natural resources and demographic and lifestyle changes over time".

Principle 5 focuses on creating vibrant places.  "Garden cities must have landscape at their heart and be teeming with wildlife. A generous and well maintained network of public realm that serves multiple purposes for meeting, relaxing, growing food and social interaction, will help build civic pride and enjoyment. Parks and outdoor facilities, as well as access to nature, will encourage healthy lifestyles and community wellbeing." the institute says..

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