Tag Archives: Town Planning

Doing It The Milton Keynes Way – BBC Radio 4 Programme

Milton Keynes is gaining a reputation for something other than its roundabouts and concrete cows. The much maligned new-town is now leading the way in the economic recovery and topping the league tables as the UK’s most business-friendly town.
MK, as it’s affectionately known by its residents, has many of the key ingredients when it comes to attracting business investment. It has good connections to London and the rest of the country, plenty of factory and office space, an abundance of skilled graduates on its doorstop and house prices well below the national average, as building has kept up with the town’s booming population. All this has helped Milton Keynes build one of the strongest city economies in the UK, boasting the 4th highest business start-up rate and the 3rd highest output per worker out of 64 cities.
Deborah Meaden, the fearsome business brain of TV’s ‘Dragon’s Den’, travels to Milton Keynes to visit different businesses and find out if there is a secret ingredient beyond the issues of location and education. Local entrepreneurs talk about the ‘Milton Keynes can-do attitude’. They say part of the reason MK has thrived is due to their drive to push their businesses forward and work together. Deborah discusses the nature of the unique MK mind-set with three small business owners to pin down exactly what it is.
But there is a question over whether Milton Keynes is going to inspire its next generation – just in the same way today’s business leaders were galvanised by the town’s planners or ‘founding fathers’, who cemented a pioneering spirit into its culture. Two young entrepreneurs tell Deborah that although MK is a great place to start up, it needs to make sure it attracts more innovative hi-tech companies and independent shops and businesses in order to maintain its success into the future.
So what can other cities learn from Milton Keynes? Chief executive of the think tank Centre For Cities, Alexandra Jones, shares her thoughts on which parts of MK’s success can be replicated in other parts of the UK, especially in the cities of northern England where economic growth is desperately needed. Should more cities be doing it the Milton Keynes way?

To listen to the programme CLICK HERE

Government offers support for locally-led garden cities

Communities with ideas for a new generation of garden cities will receive support from the government to turn their ambitions into reality, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles announced (14 April 2014).

A prospectus will help communities work up proposals for ambitious new developments, which are locally-led, include at least 15,000 homes and have the backing of existing residents.

There is genuine enthusiasm and ambition for growth in communities across the country, but new developments must be well-designed, and bring together high-quality homes, jobs, and green spaces in communities where people want to live raise their children.

The Government want to work closely with areas which bring forward strong expressions of interest to help them develop their proposals, understand the barriers to delivery and offer government brokerage and support through the Large Sites scheme and other existing schemes where it can help to unblock these.

Ministers believe these locally-led developments will play a crucial role in delivering the number of new homes the country needs, but it is vital that they are not imposed from above.

Read More HERE

How Burrowing Owls Lead To Vomiting Anarchists (Or SF’s Housing Crisis Explained)

2014-04-10 sanfrancisco housingThe Santa Clara Valley was some of the most valuable agricultural land in the entire world, but it was paved over to create today’s Silicon Valley. This was simply the result of bad planning and layers of leadership failure — nobody thinks farms literally needed to be destroyed to create the technology industry’s success.

Today, the tech industry is apparently on track to destroy one of the world’s most valuable cultural treasures, San Francisco, by pushing out the diverse people who have helped create it. At least that’s the story you’ve read in hundreds of articles lately. It doesn’t have to be this way. But everyone who lives in the Bay Area today needs to accept responsibility for making changes where they live so that everyone who wants to be here, can. The alternative — inaction and self-absorption — very well could create the cynical elite paradise and middle-class dystopia that many fear. I’ve spent time looking into the city’s historical housing and development policies. With the protests escalating again, I am pretty tired of seeing the city’s young and disenfranchised fight each other amid an extreme housing shortage created by 30 to 40 years of NIMBYism or (“Not-In-My-Backyard-ism”) from the old wealth of the city and down from the peninsula suburbs. Here is a very long explainer.

Sorry, this isn’t a shorter post or that I didn’t break it into 20 pieces. If you’re wondering why people are protesting you, how we got to this housing crisis, why rent control exists or why tech is even shifting to San Francisco in the first place, this is meant to provide some common points of understanding. This is a complex problem, and I’m not going to distill it into young, rich tech douchebags-versus-helpless old ladies facing eviction. There are many other places where you can read that story. It does us all no justice. 1) First off, understand the math of the region. San Francisco has a roughly thirty-five percent homeownership rate. Then 172,000 units of the city’s 376,940 housing units are under rent control. (That’s about 75 percent of the city’s rental stock.) Homeowners have a strong economic incentive to restrict supply because it supports price appreciation of their own homes. It’s understandable. Many of them have put the bulk of their net worth into their homes and they don’t want to lose that. So they engage in NIMBYism under the name of preservationism or environmentalism, even though denying in-fill development here creates pressures for sprawl elsewhere.

Read more of the excellent article HERE

Budget 2014: Garden city prospectus to be published by Easter


The government will publish a prospectus by Easter setting out how local authorities could develop their own ‘locally-led’ proposals for bringing forward new garden cities, chancellor George Osborne has announced.

Today’s Budget, which confirmed that the government will support a new garden city at Ebbsfleet, Kent, revealed that the prospectus will be published “by Easter 2014”.

The prospectus had been promised by the government more than two years ago to define the processes for promoting large settlements and garden cities, but has yet to be published.

The Budget document said that a dedicated urban development corporation would be formed to “drive forward the creation” of the Ebbsfleet garden city. It added that up to £200 million of infrastructure funding would be made available to kick start development.

In his Budget speech, Osborne said: “We’re going to build 15,000 homes there, put in the infrastructure, set up the development corporation and make it happen.”

Stuart Robinson, executive director and chairman of UK planning at property firm CBRE, said: “”Garden cities were a step forward in their time but what is required currently is a model very different to what we saw at Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City.

“And although the mayor is gallantly using innovative ideas to procure homes at a faster rate, the scale of the housing crisis in London will need solutions which address the heart of the undersupply in problems in the capital.”

National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said: “We welcome the announcement of the new garden city in Ebbsfleet, but it will only make a difference if it is the first of many. The new homes in Ebbsfleet must not merely replace homes that would have been built elsewhere.”

From PlanningResource

15,000-home garden city to be built at Ebbsfleet


A garden city with an initial 15,000 homes will be built at Ebbsfleet in Kent, George Osborne has announced.
The chancellor told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show the site was chosen because there was “fantastic” infrastructure and it was in south-east England where pressure on housing has been high.
He said local people wanted to see regeneration of the area.

Read More HERE

Making it happen: a New Towns Act for 2015

Leading housing and planning charity, the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has  published a landmark document into how the UK can deliver the beautiful, inclusive and sustainable communities of the future. The report,New Town Act 2015, has taken the phenomenally successful New Town Development Corporation model, that delivered 32 new towns after the Second World War and which now home over 2 million people, and updated it for the 21st Century.

There is clear consensus that England is suffering from a major housing crisis. Building a few new houses here and there is not going to be enough – we need to create comprehensively planned, large scale developments. This is why the TCPA has been leading a re-invigorated campaign for a new generation of garden cities as part of the solution and has published this historic report, which demonstrates how the nation can rediscover its bold and visionary history in creating beautiful new places with affordable homes and where people wish to live and work.

Dr Hugh Ellis, TCPA Head of Policy, said:

“Over the last two years the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the Leader of the Labour Party have all articulated their support for a new generation of garden cities as part of the solution to the nation’s housing crisis. However, the question of how to deliver high quality and comprehensively planned new communities, which can take over 30 years to deliver and transcend electoral cycles, has not yet been addressed.”

“This why the TCPA wants to show how the development corporation model, which was extraordinarily successful in delivering homes and communities after the second world war, can be updated to make it more democratically accountable and ensure that the vision of high quality, beautiful and inclusive places is achieved. The trick will be to take the world famous and successful garden city principles, which created places like Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, and place them at the heart of the staggeringly successful development corporation delivery model.”

The objective of ‘New Towns Act 2015?’ is to identify the major issues which a future government would need to address in order to make the New Towns legislation fit for purpose. It is intended to provoke a positive debate about the best way to secure high-quality housing growth based on the success of the British New Towns. While there is inevitably a degree of complexity surrounding the law which underpins the delivery of new communities, the key messages of this document are clear:

  • New settlements are a vital component of our response to the housing crisis, allowing for cost-effective and sustainable growth.
  • The New Towns Act offers a powerful foundation for the delivery of the kinds of high-quality inclusive places that will meet our housing needs in the long term.
  • This foundation is based on a specific approach to the designation of land and the creation of New Town Development Corporations to drive effective delivery.
  • The basic architecture of the New Towns legislation remains in force and could, in principle, be used tomorrow.

However, this document also concludes that the current legislation is in need of modernisation to ensure that Development Corporations have the visionary purpose and obligations to balance their extensive powers. These changes would include:

  • the creation of transparent legal objectives for Development Corporations, including sustainable development, climate change and social inclusion;
  • enhanced requirements for participation by the public in the design and delivery of the New Town;
  • ensuring partnership working with the established local authorities in the area in which the New Town is located; and ensuring the timely handover of the New Town’s assets (i.e. land, property, finance) to the local authorities and to other successor bodies to hold and manage those assets in perpetuity for the benefit of the community.

In addition to the modernisation of the law, the development of New Towns would require important policy support and a detailed financial model, both of which the TCPA is currently developing. Significant policy challenges remain, primarily around the balance between centrally designated New Town sites and local consensus.

Dr Hugh Ellis added:

“Given the scale of the housing crisis we cannot meet our current and future housing needs on a plot by plot basis. This is why in the run up to the 2015 election the TCPA will be calling for all three major political parties to make a manifesto commitment to delivering beautiful, well designed and inclusive new communities; with affordable homes and new jobs in places people wish to live and work. We need brave political leadership and we hope that this report, ‘New Town Act 2015?’, will help show central and local government how a step change in delivery can be achieved, working in partnership with the private sector, without losing focus on people and quality.”

This report has been kindly supported by the Lady Margaret Paterson Osborn Trust and Dentons and is being launched in Parliament with the Rt Hon Nick Raynsford MP.

From TCPA Media Library http://www.tcpa.org.uk

National Planning Policy Framework & New Towns

The planning system in England altered significantly in 2012 with the adoption of the National Planning Policy Framework, which sought to replace the plethora of existing adopted planning guidance in a more succinct and positive manner. The NPPF is bedding-in well and there is a general consensus that despite its brevity a return to the previous arrangements would not be supported.

In considering New Town development outside the UK in circumstances where perhaps strategic policy is not as well developed, the NPPF provides a valuable format for considering  planning policy initiatives and setting development control policies.

As far as New Towns themselves are concerned the document recognises the opportunity and states:

52. The supply of new homes can sometimes be best achieved through planning for larger scale development, such as new settlements or extensions to existing villages and towns that follow the principles of Garden Cities.

A simple statement perhaps, but an important recognition of the potential and couched in terms that assist authorities in progressing projects of this type.

The NPPF can be read in the Document Library – HERE

Dead End for Garden Cities?

0_0_460_http---offlinehbpl.hbpl.co.uk-news-RLP-AlamyBY36D8-20140210021916382Last month, deputy prime minister Nick Clegg used a newspaper column to highlight the fact that a prospectus promised by the government more than two years ago to define the processes for promoting large settlements and garden cities remains unpublished.

Where the prospectus currently sits in government and how far it has progressed is unclear.


Pressure for a clear policy statement on new settlements is coming from a wide range of quarters, with a growing consensus that housing demand is not being met from incremental development.