'More intervention needed to deliver garden city agenda'

Thu 7th February 2013, 10:49 am

The public sector should consider using compulsory purchase powers to assemble the land needed to create the government's new wave of garden cities, according to a new report.

Garden Cities: market cannot deliver on its own

The document Unlocking Garden Cities, by SocInvest thought leader GVA, says that the market on its own will be unable to deliver the scale of development touted by ministers.

It has identified 40 urban extension sites and new settlements which could deliver up to 250,000 new homes in the South and South East of England, but also the challenges standing in their way.

The report said: "There is a need to alleviate this stagnation through public intervention to encourage development, including loosening S106 agreements, facilitating funding and even using CPO powers to encourage delivery.

"A number of the schemes covered by our research are in the ownership of several organisations - either land owners or developers. This multiple-ownership is also hampering delivery as the parties involved are unable to agree or co-operate on a way forward.

"This is a particular issue around sharing in the cost of infrastructure, the timing/cash-flow implications, and the subsequent value creation."

GVA's analysis says the main causes for delay are infrastructure costs (halting delivery of around 80,000 homes), the local housing market (30,000 new homes), the planning process (10,000 new homes) and political opposition (7,000).

It said: "Continuing to tinker with the planning system will not serve as a panacea and will not alone deliver significant numbers of new homes. It is an easy target and takes attention away from other things the government could be doing."

The report also calls on the government to consider creating a new form of public sector funding guarantee for infrastructure, simplifing public funding streams, and directing the public sector to take on a more proactive management role.

Gerry Hughes, senior director at GVA, said: “A definitive position needs to be taken by the government on facilitating and enabling these larger schemes, and indeed garden cities if they are to be nothing more than a pipe dream.

"In my view this means giving the HCA a clear delivery mandate to make garden cities happen in chosen locations and in freeing up the log jam of large housing schemes that our work has demonstrated."

Iain Gilbey, senior planning partner at law firm Pinsent Masons (another SocInvest thought leader), said: “The government has an important role to play in using the statutory planning and funding powers at its disposal - and encouraging local government to do the same - to firstly and importantly de-risk or forward fund strategic infrastructure delivery and secondly to step in and assist with land assembly, to ensure that schemes can achieve the required critical mass for delivery."

Unlocking Garden Cities

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