A series of letters to the local papers in the last couple of weeks:
WHERE IS THIS NEW TOWN DELIVERY EXPERTISE?
North Essex Garden Communities says that it will be ‘supported by experts who are experienced in delivering large-scale development.’ The acknowledgement of the lack of existing expertise is welcome.
But where will it find these experts, with experience of delivering three new towns simultaneously, and will it be too late? It is no good bringing in “experts” for detailed implementation when the strategy is wrong:
- Will the experts suddenly make large new towns viable?
- Will they be experts at extracting subsidies from Government?
- Will they be able to alter the big issues of size and location of the garden communities?
- Will they be able to design economically efficient communities?
Nothing on this scale has succeeded since Milton Keynes in the 1960s, and that needed restructuring when it ran into financial difficulties. Many new towns have been tried since, but none has succeeded.
A recent review of the 15,000-home Ebbsfleet Garden City found that the development corporation, “…has had difficulties assembling a settled team capable of leading the envisioning, promotion and delivery of the Ebbsfleet Garden City and, even now, continues to operate with a temporary chief executive and a board that is under capacity.” A number of respondents noted that there, “is still a gap with regard to direct development and commercial skills, likely to be critical in negotiations.”
The review also highlights mixed messages coming from government as to the importance of garden city principles compared to a delivery of housing numbers alone. This week’s draft planning framework launched by government for consultation reinforces this concern: reference to garden city principles has been dropped.
We are at risk of seeing an ever watered down ‘garden city’ charter, delivered by people who have to make it up as they go. The likely result is delayed or undelivered infrastructure and housing estates sprawling across north Essex.
Rosie Pearson, Secretary
WEST TEY AIR POLLUTION WORRIES BRUSHED ASIDE
MP’s SILENCE IS DEAFENING