You may have noticed the term “garden village” or “garden settlement” has been used several times on the planning documents revealed under a Freedom of Information request. But what is it?
The official government designation claims that they are ‘holistically planned new settlements which enhance the natural environment, tackle climate change and provide high quality housing and locally accessible jobs in beautiful, healthy and sociable communities‘.
Does this rather fanciful statement bear any reality to the plans one has seen so far? In MPOG’s view, absolutely not. Rather, it seems to be a way for developers to get approval via the backdoor for high-density housing on sites where they would not normally receive approval. Indeed, a recent study by the SmartGrowthUK expert group on this concludes:
Despite the hurricane of green-wash and propaganda from public relations practitioners and even some professionals, it is clear that “garden towns” and “garden villages” are no more than simple car-dependent, low-density, greenfield sprawl – environmentally destructive but highly profitable for their developers.
Further, they then go on to say:
We need to abandon the concept [of garden settlements], stem the whole tide of greenfield development and rethink strategic planning along Smart Growth lines. We recommend the Government, devolved administrations and local authorities withdraw support from garden town and garden village developments.
If you wish to read further about why garden settlements are bad news, this Smartgrowth study is very good.