Thursday, 5 June 2014

Kent is fertile ground for garden city debate

When it comes to garden cities it appears Kent not only has potential sites – such as Ebbsfleet Valley – it also has nationally recognised experts who could help shape the future delivery of Ebenezer Howard’s vision.

Of the five finalists for the £250k Wolfson Economic prize, two are Kent-based experts and a third focuses on the prospect of a garden city on the Hoo Peninsula in Medway.

The finalists include Chris Blundell, director of development and regeneration at Golding Homes. One of the largest housing providers in the South East region, Golding deliver high quality affordable homes and services for more than 20,000 people in and around the Maidstone, Ashford and Tonbridge and Malling areas. He has recommended a garden city should accommodate between 30,000 and 40,000 people, approximately the size of Letchworth, and delivery should be led by Garden City Development Corporations.

Mr Blundell, who entered the competition in a personal capacity, is joined on the shortlist by Barton Willmore, the UK’s largest independent planning-led town-planning and design consultancy, which has an office at Ebbsfleet. 

The Barton Willmore submission sets out a ten-point plan for the delivery of a new garden city, arguing for cross-party consensus and the production of a National Spatial Plan to identify suitable locations. Garden City Mayors, heading up Garden City Commissions, would be appointed to champion garden cities and find specific locations for development.

The final Kent connection is Shelter, the leading housing and homelessness charity, which proposed a new garden city on the Hoo Peninsula in Medway. It would begin with a settlement of up to 48,000 people, approximately the size of Welwyn Garden City, at Stoke Harbour as part of a larger cluster of settlements. Eventually becoming home to 150,000 people. 

The Shelter entry proposes a model designed to attract massive private investment into the provision of high quality homes, jobs, services and infrastructure. The delivery model prioritises speed and volume over profit margins, aims to acquire land at low cost and transfer valuable assets to a community trust for the long term. Local people would be offered unique opportunities to invest in the city, including through buying shares.

The proposals can be found here.

The winner will be announced later this year.

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