Lord Stoneham: Why we need to look at new Garden Cities

Today Lord Stoneham of Droxford will use oral questions in the Chamber to ask the Government when it will publish a promised prospectus on establishing new Garden Cities. They need to be considered seriously as a way of tackling the housing shortage, he says

Lord Stoneham of Droxford
Lord Stoneham of Droxford

It is clear that housing must play a key role in Government policy if we are to build  a stronger economy in a fairer society.

After  several decades of  housing undersupply in the face of growing need and demand, the great danger for  the next 10 years  is another decade of house prices booming in the face of market shortages.

Well designed, sustainable housing  must be high on the Government’s agenda to help get the economy moving and to meet real social need.

The scale of the need is such that we will not be able to depend on small-scale infill or urban sprawl development. One of the great successes of social  policy after the second world war was the development of Garden Cities such as Letchworth, Stevenage and Welwyn. That is why Garden Cities should be looked at again.

In its Housing Strategy published in November 2011 the Government promised to publish a prospectus of what it expected from local authorities and developers and the contribution the Government could make to get some of these big new developments on the housing agenda.

Obviously these developments won’t happen overnight because  consultation and local support will be paramount. Their design and sustainability will be central too.

But if Garden Cities are to be a realistic option which can make an impact within the next decade we are asking the Government  to publish their  prospectus  as soon as possible and certainly before the autumn, when it will be two years since they committed themselves to do so. That is why the question will be asked in the House of Lords today.

Publication should help to demonstrate that after several decades of neglect the Government is determined to make housing a central element of its plans for economic and social regeneration.

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