Why “Garden Villages” Are A Failure

Garden towns and villages are supposed to be “innovative” and “transformational”, but there is little innovation in the proposals seen so far, and the only “transformation” would be destruction of the surrounding countryside. Indeed, there is little or nothing to distinguish even those garden settlements approved elsewhere from the mass of low-density, greenfield sprawl developments now disfiguring our land, quite a few of which conveniently describe themselves as “garden villages”.

Ebenezer Howard, the Victorian designer of the original (and genuine) “garden city” movement, would have struggled to recognise this proposal as a “garden village”, which would perhaps be better described as encroachment or urban extension. These proposals look to perpetuate that destructive concept which has given us a century of low-density, car-dependent sprawl, mostly lacking in sustainable transport and consuming our scarce, valued agricultural land.

Even its contribution to local housing shortages would be minimal.

Few garden villages have made any significant attempt to use brownfield land and such out-of-town developments have inevitably high demands for infrastructure which their developers are not willing to fund in full. They are the product of a national obsession with raw housebuilding numbers with little thought for our actual housing needs; their construction would squander undeveloped land for little gain, other than the commercial returns sought by their promoters.

The entire concept is as misguided as the “eco towns” project which spawned it, and was equally as deserving of derision. Despite the hurricane of greenwashing and propaganda from the developers and their PR people (and even some planning 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. Please help us to save Marden and the Low Weald to prevent this – get involved.

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