Garden cities: what cost? Time for a Plimsoll line

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PRESS RELEASE 13 June 2019

Garden cities must be tested for ‘seaworthiness’ to prevent further waste of tax-payers’ money

The Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex (CAUSE) has published a paper calling for a ‘Plimsoll line’ for the planning of garden cities.   The group says government and local authorities must learn from the mistakes of the North Essex Garden Communities project and carry out a full assessment of economic and environmental cost.

CAUSE draws parallels with Samuel Plimsoll, who campaigned for a rigorously calculated ‘load line’ to ensure that ships are not overloaded and unstable. The Government’s garden towns project needs equally rigorous analysis to decide whether to build a ‘garden city’, where and how big it should be.

The report demonstrates that large new garden cities cannot be funded by land value capture in today’s economic and political environment.  In the absence of very[1] significant government subsidy, the costs of infrastructure, land control and interest repayments are too great.

The issue of the most efficient size and location for a new town has not been addressed, nor has the impact on infrastructure beyond a new town’s perimeter.   Unsustainable garden cities are trying to set off from port overloaded with promises that cannot be delivered[2].

CAUSE demonstrates that there is a more economically efficient way of capturing land value: transit-oriented development in the form of the ‘Metro Plan’.  It is also less risky and more environmentally friendly and will coincidentally also meet Government’s need for ‘more, better, faster’.

The report concludes that thinking in terms of a planning Plimsoll line would ensure that environmental costs and financial costs are properly analysed.  The result will be better planning.

Click here to read the report:  Garden Cities – What Costs?: Time for a Plimsoll line

The Campaign Against Urban Sprawl in Essex, (CAUSE) is a volunteer run group campaigning for a more environmentally sustainable and economically efficient way of providing for housing than the ‘North Essex Garden Communities.

Contacts:  Rosie Pearson; William Sunnucks

[1] C£1.8bn for just one of the North Essex Garden  Communities, 24,000-home “West Tey”

[2] CAUSE research shows that North Essex Garden Communities development appraisal contains a major mistake which systematically favours large new towns over smaller ones.  If they go ahead infrastructure and social housing promises will have to be broken.