Vital Cities Report

The term ‘Garden City’ has been bandied about as a cure-all for the housing challenges we’re facing today. Visions of semi-detached houses with private gardens and lush, green open spaces come to mind, but is this actually the case? Will Garden Cities indeed solve the housing crisis? Or is there a greener, more economically viable and socially sustainable solution?

Panel

The Future Spaces Foundation brings together a panel of distinguished experts from fields including economics, design, psychology and sociology to explore a wide range of socio-economic, demographic and technological factors that affect the way we live and work and the impact they have on the spaces we live in. The views of the Future Spaces Foundation reflected in the report do not necessarily and completely reflect the opinion of every individual panellist, but all contributions are recorded faithfully to ensure that the panel is represented. While the panel members have provided their expertise and experience to shape the final report, they are not the report authors.

The Future Spaces Foundation commissioned the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) to produce ‘Vital Cities not Garden Cities: the answer to the nation’s housing shortage?’ by undertaking research and economic modelling. The views of the report authors are the Foundation’s alone, and not those of individual panel members.

Ben Bolgar

Ben Bolgar

Senior Director, Prince’s Foundation for Building Community

“In general terms we have been building awful monocultural places that local people are rejecting. However, if they could see good housing built to high standards that were making their communities better, then they would be more convinced, but the problem is we are not providing that quality housing to convince people.”

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Katherine Drayson

Katherine Drayson

Environment and Energy Research Fellow, The Policy Exchange

“What is really important is that communities have a say in what's going to be delivered - we must remember that there is no one size fits all, not everyone is going to want the same thing.”

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Trudi Elliott

Trudi Elliot CBE

Chief Executive, Royal Town Planning Institute

“If we’re talking about creating places that have jobs, infrastructure, a cultural life, that people actually want to live in and are diverse, then that is well and good. However do Garden Cities provide that or is it just a fantasy?”

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Iqbal Hamiduddin

Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin

Lecturer in Transport Planning and Housing, University College London

“We have undertaken a number of good quality local projects in the last decade; we can do major national projects, albeit over a long period of time, but we really struggle at this regional scale. In this respect, new development is better targeted within existing cities, and at densification.”

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Richard Hebditch

Richard Hebditch

Assistant Director of External Affairs, The National Trust

“If we are talking about Garden Cities located around railway stations, then actually there are opportunities there, because you have good transport links. One idea is to have spaces around stations where you can go and work, so if you are working from home, or in small places, you can hire meeting rooms or office space on a day-to-day or weekly basis, and that allows businesses to grow.”

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Toby Lloyd

Toby Lloyd

Head of Policy, Shelter

“Garden Cities are not the answer to the housing shortage, neither is urban densification or development on brownfield. The housing shortage is so severe and there is no silver bullet. We need to be doing all of it.”

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John Prevc

John Prevc

Partner, Make Architects

“Surely the place to be is in our existing cities; densify them, allow people to live in communities they have grown up in, make them diverse and let people enjoy those communities together.”

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Colm Sheehy

Colm Sheehy

Senior Economist, Centre for Economics and Business Research

“When considering the crux of the issue, limited supply of new homes, it is worth remembering that for many large developers, it simply isn’t in their financial interests to increase supply. To get around this, we need to explore how self-funding models can play a part in solving this issue.”

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Ken Shuttleworth

Dr Ken Shuttleworth

Founder, Make Architects and Panel Chairman

“We've seen that density can actually bring things like more employment and more opportunities to revitalise the community, and yet people still see density as a word with negative connotations. The way to change people's mindsets about density is to combine it with smart design.”

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Paul Swinney

Paul Swinney

Senior Economist, Centre for Cities

“We have to be wary of the word 'garden' in Garden Cities; I don't think these types of settlements are necessarily as green and environmentally friendly as the phrase suggests. All this does is just rebrand development - it doesn't tackle some of the fundamental issues at stake.”

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Christine Whitehead

Christine Whitehead

Professor of Housing, London School of Economics

“It is possible to deliver a huge number of the 250,000 new homes we need on brownfield sites within the green belt, by densifying the inner and outer areas of our major cities, which are built at extraordinarily low and unsustainable densities. ”

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Video

Are garden cities the answer to the UK’s housing crisis? Or is there a better solution – a greener, more economically viable and socially sustainable solution? The Future Spaces Foundation finds out.