The Government has announced plans and locations for 14 new garden villages across England, in a bid to address the housing crisis. Along with the support for a further three new garden towns, the garden settlements have the potential to provide almost 200,000 new homes across the country.
The reaction to the proposals has been as expected, the development industry tentatively welcomes the move while local communities have expressed concern about the impact these settlements will have, particularly on local infrastructure.
Planning Minister Gavin Barwell has said that the new developments will be locally-led, which would suggest that developers will have to invest in detailed, high-quality pre-application community consultation.
Local and Neighbourhood Plans were introduced by the Government to ensure that local communities were given the opportunity to shape development in their area. Pre-application consultation has increased and is a requirement for all larger residential developments, however the emphasis on community involvement and locally-led garden schemes will no doubt require demonstration of extremely high levels of consultation and cooperation with the communities in which they will operate.
The future of the various garden settlements is not set in stone, the announcement this week is more of a starting gun rather than a finish line. There is a long journey to follow, with a number of technical, design and planning processes to consider before an application is prepared. One of these processes, and clearly a critical one for the politicians, will be the level of involvement of the local community in driving the plans forward.