Leading landscapers have welcomed Government confirmation of plans to build one or two garden cities but warned against repeating past mistakes.
Communities secretary Eric Pickles acknowledged the plans after a row erupted between coalition partners over the plans and the possible existence of a secret document detailing them.
Landscape consultant Peter Neal said the garden city model should be adapted to tackle the housing crisis. "The challenge is to integrate far more robust and radical sustainability credentials into the model and far more functional, productive and connected parks, allotments, wetlands and woodlands."
Fellow consultant Dr Sid Sullivan agreed that parks are "vital" to the mix. "The Community Infrastructure Levy must specifically include provision for parks to fall unequivocally within that spending regime," he said.
"Parks are one piece of the jigsaw that enriches urban communities and addresses obesity and quality-of-life issues. Without such spending priorities, urbanisation will quickly become intolerable and may reduce the community's life expectancy."
Writer and academic Ken Worpole's recently published The New English Landscape (Field Station/London) wonders why we have become adept at creating new habitats for plants and wildlife but still have no idea how to integrate human habitats into landscapes.
Many private housing estates are "shocking", he said. "They are cut off from public transport with no common areas and severed from their surroundings," he explained. New settlements should have "proper public transport, local parks, play areas and facilities".
Paul Lincoln, Director of Policy and Communications, Landscape Institute
"Flooding across the UK is a reminder of the failures of much of our sewerage system. The Landscape Institute has been campaigning for sustainable drainage for a long time as a cost-effective, green and sustainable solution. The joy of soft green sustainable drainage is that it is relatively quick to implement and we start to see the benefit as soon as it is built. As politicians of all parties debate the best ways to build new homes - city extensions, new towns or garden cities - sustainable drainage must be at the heart of the plans.