In response to the government’s recently announced plans to add to its garden towns programme, the Foundation penned a letter to Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell MP calling on the government to consider all the implications in creating new settlements:
“It is positive to hear that the government is taking tangible steps to address the UK’s acute housing shortage, most recently through proposals for 14 new ‘garden villages’ with the potential to add to add up to 48,000 new homes across England. At the Future Spaces Foundation, we would encourage policymakers to consider the ways the villages outlined in these plans – small, discrete settlements rather than to extensions of existing towns and cities – can be economically and socially responsible in their use of resources, both individually and on a wide scale.
An integral part of ensuring any new settlement is sustainable is embracing as many opportunities for high-density development as possible, especially in terms of building density and land density. With the housing supply estimated at 1,500 to 10,000 homes per village, we would advise paying extra attention to producing an efficient number of dwellings per hectare, ideally by promoting multi-storey housing typologies. And with these villages located outside of urban developments, we would recommend prioritising links to (and, where necessary, construction of) rail and bus networks to ease car dependency and the amount of land that has to be reserved for roads and parking.
Big-picture thinking is needed to address the scale and severity of the UK’s housing shortage. Taking measures to avoid sprawl and support sustainable expansion is the best way to enable new settlements – particularly standalone villages – to develop into thriving, vibrant communities.
As the government continues its efforts to tackle the housing crisis, we urge policymakers to lay the groundwork for density and connectivity within the forthcoming garden villages, and to explore additional options for densifying our existing cities and towns, well-connected and rich in amenities as they are. We also call upon local authorities to work with architects and planners to develop housing types tailored to the needs of their individual locale, whether it’s a small village or an urban core, and we suggest an overarching standard be established and applied to all garden village proposals – one that sets the benchmark for quality, provides minimum requirements for density and transport infrastructure, and resonates with modern living.
This kind of foresight and focus on future-proof solutions will stand us in the best stead to accommodate the UK’s population growth and housing requirements in the long term.”