Garden cities ‘won’t solve the housing crisis’

9 Mar 15

Garden cities are not the answer to the country’s housing shortage and existing cities should be developed more densely, a think-tank has suggested.

Housing development

The Future Spaces Foundation estimates that an additional 67 garden cities would need to be built in London and the Southeast alone over the next 25 years to address current housing shortages. However, developing brownfield sites could meet demands for at least the next eight years.

Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make Architects and chair of the Future Spaces Foundation, said: ‘We need to change the mindset that we have in this country that means we see ‘dense’ as a dirty word; densification of existing settlements is not only vital for giving us the amount of housing that we need, but it is vital for keeping these spaces thriving.’

He argued that UK cities, including London, were sparsely populated when compared to the rest of the world and there are ‘ample possibilities’ for intensification.

‘Before we even consider bulldozing greenfield sites we must explore every option possible to densify what we’ve already got,’ Shuttleworth said.

‘Far from being the dystopia that they are sometimes perceived as, dense, or vital cities, are efficient environmentally and economically and by incorporating smart design, can enable communities to thrive in a sustainable way.’

The report, Vital cities not garden cities: the answer to the nation’s housing shortage?, applied a high density model to two cases studies – Birmingham in the West Midlands and Guildford in Surrey – that are facing housing shortages.

In both cases, higher-density settlements were found to foster better transport infrastructure, industry closers and the construction of homes that better met local housing needs.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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