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Are Garden Cities a Good Idea?

In the News this week there has been a lot of talk around the prospect of building new garden cities in the UK. While laying out the Liberal Democrat manifesto ahead of their conference speech on Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg has pledged to build new garden cities between Oxford and Cambridge, reinstating the pre-existing train line and re-naming it ‘Garden City Line’.

Nick Clegg has appeared determined in his approach to building new homes and has revealed that his plan will help to create thousands of new properties in an area of intense demand.

According to the recent article in the Guardian online, the Deputy Prime Minister plans to make it clear that new towns will not be imposed on communities. The Liberal Democrats will instead provide incentives to encourage public backing for the new towns, including an express station where faster trains would make stops.

Importantly, garden cities would boost house building to 300,000 homes a year while providing sustainable transport and protected green space.

So what exactly are Garden Cities?

In the 1890s the garden city movement was initiated by Sir Ebenezer Howard in the UK. Garden cities were planned to be self-contained communities surrounded by good levels of industry and agriculture.

At the time these plans were introduced, the garden city movement was a radical campaign for co-operative development. It was a response to the overcrowding and pollution generated by growing industrial Victorian cities.

After World War 2, there were 27 new towns built across the UK. These included Harlow, Stevenage, Newton and Milton Keynes. The layout of these towns included plenty of green space and were designed to deal with an accommodation shortage caused by bomb damage.

Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City are another couple of examples of successfully built garden towns and cities. Although you could question how affordable their housing is and whether they are actually self-sustaining cities, these two locations are still desirable places to live.

What does the movement mean to the landscaping industry?

According to an article on Horticulture Week online, the Landscape Institute supports the Government’s plans for locally-led garden cities in the UK. The Landscape Institute sees garden cities as an exciting opportunity in which we can revolutionise how we deliver new communities.

Excellent landscaping planning and design is of paramount importance if garden cities are to be successful in creating sustainable lifestyles. Garden towns and cities should make the most of the land resource and take into account natural factors such as landform, geology, soils and climate.

Open spaces, choice of materials and architecture must also reflect landscape context to help create a sense of identity for the new communities, according to the Landscape’s Institute’s key principles.

Find out what else the Landscape Institute expects from the Government’s proposed plans, by seeing the full article here.

What do you think?

Are you in favour of creating new Garden cities and towns? Let us know in the comment box below or send us your thoughts via social media…

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