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Up to 40 garden cities needed to meet housing need, say Wolfson finalists



Up to 40 garden cities are needed to solve Britain's housing crisis, according to three of the five finalists in a national competition to build a major new settlement.

A visualisation of Shelter's entry 
A visualisation of Shelter's entry

The five final submissions for the £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize, which will be handed to the best idea for a new garden city, were published this morning.

Three of the five finalists independently suggest building between 30 and 40 garden cities to meet Britain’s housing need. The other two propose single 5,000-home settlements in Kent.

The overall winner will be announced next Wednesday at the gala dinner of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

The final entries are from:

  • Planning consultancy Barton Willmore, whose submission was led by director James Gross, proposes 40 new settlements over the next 25 years. It says that each would deliver 40-50,000 homes, of which 35 per cent would be affordable housing, as well as 40-50,000 jobs. The firm proposes a national pro-development campaign highlighting the potential problems the housing crisis could create for future generations. The consultancy proposes a royal commission, with locally-based garden city commissions, to be appointed to champion garden cities and find specific locations for development in the broad regions mapped out in the submission.

Last November, Tory peer Lord Simon Wolfson, the chief executive of retailer Next, launched the competition with the question: "How would you deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular?"

Speaking this morning, Wolfson said: "We urgently need to build more houses in Britain. I am delighted that this year’s Wolfson Economics Prize has generated so many powerful and creative proposals for new garden cities.

"Together these entries present an overwhelming argument in favour of a new approach to solving our housing crisis."

An exhibition of entries opens next Thursday at The Building Centre, the home of New London Architecture, in Store Street, London.

In response to today's announcement, planning and housing minister Brandon Lewis said: "We are committed to working with communities across the country who have ideas for a new generation of garden cities and we are inviting areas with locally-supported plans to come forward.

"But we do not intend to follow the failed example of top-down eco-towns from the last administration. Picking housing numbers out of thin air and imposing them on local communities builds nothing but resentment.

"This government has abolished regional quangos’ role in planning – instead, we have empowered elected local councils to determine where new homes should and shouldn’t go."

More details on the final submissions can be found here.

NOTE: this story was amended at 3.45pm on Thursday, August 28, to add a comment by Brandon Lewis.

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