Three garden cities to be built, Nick Clegg announces

House building

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Up to three garden cities, each with more than 15,000 homes will be built to help deal with a "chronic" housing shortage, Nick Clegg has announced.

The deputy prime minister promised "high-quality homes in thriving new communities", on potential sites yet to be identified.

Funding from an existing £2.4bn pot will be made available for developments being built up to 2020.

But Labour said the move was "far too little, too late" to tackle the crisis.

In 2013, the construction of 109,370 new homes was completed in England - the lowest figure for four years.

Yet the number of households is expected to grow by 221,000 every year this decade.


Twenty-seven new towns were built across the UK after World War Two, including Stevenage, Harlow, Milton Keynes, Corby, Cwmbran, Newton Aycliffe, Peterlee and Cumbernauld.

These, called garden cities because their layouts included large amounts of green space, were designed to deal with an accommodation shortage caused by bomb damage, stagnation in the construction industry, returning service personnel and a baby boom.

Mr Clegg, speaking at his monthly media conference, sought to invoke the same spirit as 1940s politicians when he issued a "call-to-arms for visionaries" to set out plans for schemes and published a prospectus inviting bids from councils.

Officials were keen to stress that the new cities would not be imposed on communities and must have local support. They must also have good transport links and be commercially viable.

Milton Keynes Milton Keynes was among the garden cities constructed after World War Two

Mr Clegg said: "A steady stream of governments have failed to deal with the problem. Politicians from all sides have given up trying. I'm talking about garden cities - a vision of communities where future generations will live, work, have children, grow up and grow old.

"The average first-time buyer is now over 30. Home ownership is falling for the first time in a generation.

"Once, owning a home was a dream that most people would achieve one day. Now that dream is becoming increasingly like a pipe dream for many young people.

"We have got to do more to tackle Britain's chronic lack of housing, and to build high-quality homes in thriving new communities."

'Fairer society'

Mr Clegg criticised developments in recent years, saying: "We have allowed ad hoc, urban sprawl to become a default solution. And it's a bad one - breeding local resentment while not solving the problem."

Of his prospectus, he said: "It's much more than a document. It's a call-to-arms for visionaries in local areas in need of housing to put forward radical and ambitious proposals to develop their own garden cities.

"These plans will show that we can build beautifully designed new communities which preserve the gardens and accessible green spaces that residents most value."

The Liberal Democrat leader, who said he had been "banging the drum" for garden cities within the coalition, added: "I'm clear that local communities developing new garden cities is an essential part of the solution to providing affordable homes to live in, building a stronger economy and a fairer society, where every person can get on in life.

"The first spades won't hit the ground tomorrow, but that doesn't stop us putting pen to paper to plan the places our children and grandchildren can afford to live in the years to come."

Two years ago the government commissioned a report on the possibility of using garden cities to help deal with the housing shortage.


In January Liberal Democrat party president Tim Farron accused the Conservatives of deliberately suppressing its publication to appease supporters in the south of England.

But Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, a Conservative, said he also backed the new plans for garden cities where there was local demand for them.

He said: "The coalition government scrapped top-down building targets, along with the last administration's failed eco-towns programme, which built nothing but resentment.

"This government is committed to working with local communities who want to build more homes in attractive and sustainable developments where people can live and raise their families."

Proposals that re-use previously developed brownfield sites that "are not of high environmental value" will be welcomed, the prospectus says.

'Wasted years'

Chancellor George Osborne, a Conservative, announced funding in his Budget last month to create the proposed Ebbsfleet Garden City in Kent.

Hilary Benn, Labour's shadow communities and local government secretary, said: "After four wasted years of empty and over-hyped announcements on garden cities it is only now that ministers have got around to inviting bids for development.

"Ministers' failure to take the real action needed to tackle the housing crisis will mean that home ownership remains out of reach of many low and middle-income earners, rents will continue to rise and waiting lists will grow ever longer.

"Labour is clear that you can't deal with the cost-of-living crisis without building more homes, which is why Labour has committed to getting at least 200,000 homes a year built by 2020, including by building a new generation of new towns and garden cities."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Move the people up north where there is no shortage of property that can be made habitable with a little renovation and at a fraction of the cost of 'new build'

    Oh dear, that won't work because it will not make southern land-owners even richer by selling-off good agricultural land at premium development land prices - the main driver behind these proposed developments

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Oh no, even more green fields and agricultural land to go, hope he knows how to keep us fed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I assume that these citys are to herald the new age of the Federal UK, otherwise it will be - commuting towns for london and brutalist concrete carbunkles that in 30 years time no one wants to live in.

    What about all the empty houses? and second or third homes?

    Get your prioritys straight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    We need new affordable homes. This proposal by Clegg isn't enough.

    Also, we need to stop greedy corporations demanding cheap labour via mass immigration.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    This is a 'tinkering at the edges' solution, not a geo-economic structural solution.

    Building more homes isn't sustainable; space is finite and we'll end up creating an environment that no one is happy to live in, which is what governing is really about.

    Instead, control the supply of easy money fuelling the unsustainable price boom. Impose restrictions on credit and money creation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Standard splurge of comments resisting house building and blaming immigration. Ridiculous. We need more houses, simple as that, and instead of piecemeal soulless suburban estates on the peripheries of existing towns, we have a framework here to build something credible and that we are proud of.

    Secondly, Milton Keynes wasn't a Garden City. Letchworth and Welwyn were the only Garden Cities built.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Go away, Clegg, you have nothing to say.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    This is in addition to the fact that councils are letting ridiculous planning applications for inappropriate houses go through meaning that the village life style will soon vanish as a result of the National Planning Framework which is forcing councils to permit unsightly devepments in our most cherished villages - so much for the local people having a say and bye bye to our villages.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Presumably it is considerably more profitable to build new cities in the countryside, than convert unused retail space (and brownfield sites) currently not being used in the centres of existing cities.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    There are thousands of poor houses in many cities that are in a dire state of repair, landlords forcing residents to live in squalor whilst the state pays their rent with our taxes. Is this not the real problem? Shouldn't these areas be regenerated by realists and not liberal visionaries?
    There will always be poor housing until we live in a classless society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Stick a few houses in the gardens of MPs' mansions - that should help a bit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    what house shortage there are plenty of homes up north which are empty , derelict or need updating why not house people in them stop the help to buy in the south and use it in areas that need jobs infer structure and investment look north clegg look north

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    The use of the word 'Garden' is a deliberate political ploy to make them appear more acceptable and environmentally conscious. The fact is, these cities will be no different from any other development being built and people should be aware of this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    As long as they are in the South East, I don't care. It's all very well for Clegg to advocate them as he won't even be in Parliament in a years time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    The reason these kind of building projects get up everyones nose is that unitl we deal with the borders there is no hope of catching up with the shortfall.
    Why should those in rural UK have thier grenn belt decimated to sate the needs of an unending supply of economic migrants.

    Shut the borders and keep the countryside simple.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    "high-quality homes" Good luck with that!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    More houses for landlord to buy of plan.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    How about making sure everyone has their own house before you can buy another and at realistic prices, check immigration, deport those who shouldn't be here and get the companies that own billions in tax to pay for it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I urge everyone to watch the BBC2 programme The Planners.

    It's a Master Class in Nimbyism.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    So what we'll end up with is thousands of tiny 3-storey houses with garages barely big enough to fit a car in (and you can forget opening the doors - it's the sunroof) and a garden that would starve a rabbit, and they'll be "affordable" to landlords or families earning over £100k a year.


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