Prospectus offers fresh hope

Arguments over whether the Government's attempt to unlock large-scale housing development by supporting the creation of three garden cities will make a lasting difference to the housing shortage will no doubt rumble on well beyond this Easter bank holiday.

Kate Lowe: Image HW
Kate Lowe: Image HW

But those concerned with reversing the damaging decline of landscaping and green space in development will find much to laud in the proposals, which crucially have received the immediate support of the Town & Country Planning Association - guardian of the original garden city vision.

Describing garden cities as a unique opportunity for local areas to, among other things, ensure "public services, green spaces and amenities are hardwired into design from the beginning," the Department for Communities & Local Government's prospectus Locally-Led Garden Cities stresses that their scale will enable the "attributes that people most value" - quality design, gardens, accessible green space near homes, access to employment and local amenities - to be "designed in from the outset."

But how do we ensure that recognition of the importance of landscape and plentiful green space makes it beyond the fine words of a Government document and into reality?

Interviewed for our report (see p17) just before publication of the prospectus, HTA amenity committee chairman Tim Edwards reminds us that in the run-up to the creation of the Olympic park, the horticulture and landscaping industries fought for the budget for landscaping to be ring-fenced, plant procurement to be brought forward and a champion to be appointed for green space. Add to that a trust with assets that can raise money to pay for landscape maintenance, as the TCPA's Julia Thrift argues, and we have a model that just might work.


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