The UK government’s Garden Cities programme will not help solve the housing crisis unless the number of homes planned for locally is large enough to meet true housing need, according to property adviser Savills
The government prospectus for locally led garden cities states that these new settlement should be at or above 15,000 but analysis by Savills research shows that at this level it would require one new garden city a year the equivalent of the proposed Ebbsfleet development simply to accommodate the London overspill.
Savills suggests that the housing shortage is failure on two counts: not enough homes are being built and local authorities are failing to plan adequately for housing need in the first place. It says that local authorities need to cooperate more to meet local housing need particularly around cities where there is acute shortfall.
Even if existing planning targets are achieved, Savills research suggests that southern England faces a shortfall of 160,000 homes over the next five years, of which some 80% are in London. Savills argues that garden city proposals should be in addition to and not a replacement for existing urban extension plans and new homes already allocated in local plans.
‘There is no single solution to the housing crisis. The creation of new garden cities is not a panacea but a piece in a much bigger jigsaw,’ said Susan Emmett, Savills residential research director.
The government’s garden cities prospectus emphasises that the proposals need to attract private capital and make use of land value uplift to finance necessary infrastructure. It also states that projects must be locally led, brought forward by local authorities with the support of the community.
Savills proposes that a New Town Development Corporation could be the vehicle that helps delivery a long term vision. Land needed to accommodate 15,000 homes will cross local authority borders and involve multiple landowners.
‘This is a tall order on all counts. To achieve the scale necessary in locations where people want to live at a realistic cost to the landowner, developer and end user, requires a solid and accountable framework,’ said Emmett.
‘The suggestion that the required infrastructure can be funded from land value capture is heroic. Contributions from landowners and developers would supplement, rather than replace, central and local government funding,’ she explained.
She also pointed out that encouraging land owners to bring forward their land is a key consideration and that a balance must be struck between encouraging landowners to bring forward land willingly and achieving the right price to ensure schemes are delivered.
One route proposed in the report, is to hold a national competition for sites to come forward. The competitive element would test the potential for lower land prices so that gains from value uplift could be used to fund infrastructure. A complementary approach would be for the landowner to retain a share in the project, thus benefitting from rising land values over the longer term.
The report identifies…