Sunday 21 January 2018

Britain green-lights 17 new towns and villages to tackle house shortage

Scheme could see up to 200,000 houses being built – but Britain needs a total of one million. Photo: PA
Scheme could see up to 200,000 houses being built – but Britain needs a total of one million. Photo: PA

Kylie MacLellan

Britain's government announced plans yesterday to build 17 new towns and villages across the English countryside in a bid to ease a chronic housing shortage.

The new "garden" communities - from Cumbria in the north to Cornwall on England's southern-most tip - would be part of a scheme to build up to 200,000 new homes, housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said in a statement.

That would still be a fraction of the million houses that the UK government has said it wants to see built from 2015-2020 in an already densely populated nation.

Successive governments have promised to tackle a shortage that has seen house prices spiral in London and other major cities, out of the reach of many buyers.

But developers have complained about a lack of available land and strict planning laws that outlaw development on "greenbelt" land around existing towns and give local councils the power to block construction.

Britain asked local authorities last year to say if they were interested in having new garden developments - based on a 19th century idea of housing growing populations in newly built self-contained towns surrounded by countryside.

The idea is that the new developments become self-contained and self-sustaining by attracting jobs and investment as well as people, unlike traditional suburbs or so-called dormitory towns.

"Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. New communities not only deliver homes, they also bring new jobs and facilities and a big boost to local economies," Barwell said.

Last year, Britain curbed its plans for larger garden cities after a project in Ebbsfleet, just south east of London, was blocked by local opposition.

Barwell announced the locations for the first time yesterday and said the state would loosen planning restrictions and give £7.4m (€8.7m) to help fund the building.

The three newly announced towns, with more than 10,000 homes each, will be built near Aylesbury and Harlow, both close to London in south east England, and at Taunton in the south west.

The new garden villages, including Bailrigg in Lancaster, Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon, Welborne in Hampshire and Culm in Devon, would each have 1,500-10,000 properties. Together with seven other garden towns already announced, the new developments could provide almost 200,000 homes, Mr Barwell added. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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