General election garden city manifesto pledges welcomed

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The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has welcomed the manifesto pledges for a new generation of Garden Cities from the major political parties but raised questions about their commitment to delivering genuinely sustainable new homes. The TCPA has campaigned for a new generation of Garden Cities for over a century and believes they can provide a powerful and unique model of development, and are much more than just homes with gardens. ‘We need brave political leadership in order to bring forward new Garden Cities, and the TCPA is keen to work with the new government to ensure that the socially just, high quality Garden Cities that the nation deserves become a reality,’ said Kate Henderson, TCPA chief executive. She pointed out that while the manifestos all pledge support for Garden Cities, none of them set out how these Garden Cities will be delivered, or how a new government will ensure that the new communities adhere to the Garden City principles. The Labour manifesto states that the party wants to boost housing if it is in power after the May general election and pledged to build a new generation of garden cities but Henderson says it fails to include any commitment to ensuring if and how new Garden Cities will meet the Garden City principles. ‘The Lyons Review sets out a clear mandate for the delivery of Garden Cities, and referenced the need to make their delivery mechanism fit for purpose with the recommendation to update the New Towns Act,’ she explained. ‘The Review also recognised the need to consider the quality of new homes, particularly in regards to of the need for space standards, high quality design and zero carbon standards. To deliver genuine Garden Cities we should act on these recommendations,’ she added. The Conservative manifesto states the party will support locally led garden cities and towns in places where communities want them, such as Ebbsfleet and Bicester but Henderson says that another of its proposals to extend the Right to Buy scheme risks undermining the achievements of genuine mixed communities. The Liberal Democrat manifesto is the most detailed and sets out plans for at least 10 new Garden Cities in England, in areas where there is local support, providing tens of thousands of high quality new homes, with gardens and shared green space, jobs, schools and public transport. It has also pledged to encourage rural Local Authorities to follow these principles on a smaller scale, too, developing new garden villages or suburbs as part of their plans for growth along with the creation of up to five major new settlements along a Garden Cities Railway between Oxford and Cambridge. Henderson said the TCPA would have liked to have seen references as to how these Garden Cities or development will be brought forward. Taylor Scott International

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