Ebenezer Howard's 1898 vision advocated the principles of a garden city model. This was broadly followed by the first garden cities in Letchworth and Welwyn. Separately, the New Towns Act 1946 established an ambitious programme for building new towns to aid post World War II recovery.
It is generally accepted that not enough new homes are being built to meet growing need. Housing projections up to 2033 were published in 2010 which indicated that around 232,000 new homes would be required each year. This exceeds the number of homes added to the dwelling stock in recent years – in the 12 months ending September 2014, 117,070 houses were completed. The idea of creating new garden cities remains an attractive option to meet this shortfall.
In the Budget 2014 the Government announced that it would support a new Garden City at Ebbsfleet in Kent, for up to 15,000 new homes based on existing brownfield land, to be driven forward by a development corporation with compulsory purchase powers. In April 2014 the Government published a prospectus Locally-led Garden Cities setting out a support package for local areas which are interested in forming a new garden city. Proposals put forward should have the full backing of all local authorities in which the new garden city would be sited and should be at or above a level of 15,000 homes. At the same time that the Prospectus was published the Government also launched the Large Sites Infrastructure Programme, which is aimed at accelerating the development of large housing sites.
The Lyons Commission October 2014 report, Mobilising across the nation to build the homes our children need, commissioned by the Labour Party, called garden cities “essential to meeting housing need over the medium to long-term”. A February 2014 paper on Reform of the Planning System by the Co-Chairs of the Liberal Democrat DCLG Parliamentary Policy Committee set out plans to create garden communities and to support new garden cities.
The practicalities of how garden cities should be funded has divided expert opinion. Some private companies have pledged recently to invest in new settlements. A number of new homes are already planned at Ebbsfleet and information about these proposals is available online. This note sets out these points in more detail and applies to England only.