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Garden Community Resources
'Garden Communities' are all the rage with developers. They allow the presentation of a development that is much, much larger than normal as something very different and very special. They invariably are not.
Modern Garden Communities are sprawling, car-dependent and lacking in the 'community' required by the name.
The Town & Country Planning Association (TCPA) has exacerbated the proliferation of garden communities (GCs). While the TCPA does some very interesting and good work, it is let down by its fixation with GCs, and its refusal to acknowledge that the concept is outdated, flawed and undeliverable in the current planning climate. Here are the TCPA's garden city principles, which are quoted by many developers, but rarely delivered: Garden City Principles | Town & Country Planning Association
In fact, Transport for New Homes has done some great research, in its report looking at 'Visions and Reality' - concluding that the reality does not meet the visions: Garden Villages and Garden Towns - Transport for New Homes
It will feel very daunting if you are facing an enormous garden community in your area. However, it is very possible to see off an unsuitable proposal.
Community Planning Alliance Chairman, Rosie Pearson, started her campaigning 'career' opposing the biggest garden town of the modern era, a 24,000-home monstrosity known as West Tey which was long on promises and short on reality. There were two other new towns as part of the local plan, proposed jointly by four councils and backed by the Government. Her campaign group fought on planning grounds for over six years before eventually seeing off West Tey (and one of the other two). Meanwhile, campaigners in neighbouring Uttlesford also successfully fought off three unsustainable GCs.
The information and inspectors' letters below will give you some idea of the kind of issues that are important.
CPA Webinar: How to fight an unsuitable 'Garden Community'
In this webinar, recorded on March 17th 2022, we heard from two north Essex campaigners, Richard Pavitt and Rosie Pearson, whose campaign groups saw off five enormous garden communities proposals. The largest being for 24,000 homes.
Richard and Rosie explained what they learned during their campaigns and shared their top tips on how to get behind developer promises and oppose an unsuitable garden community.
North Essex Garden Communities
This proposal consisted of three new towns: West Tey, officially known as Colchester Braintree Borders GC - 24,000 homes; West of Braintree GC - 10,000 homes; East Colchester, officially known as Tendring Colchester Borders GC - 9000 homes. The GC's were all in Section 1. The normal Local Plans of each district were in Section 2. They were all thrown out in 2018.
However, instead of taking the sensible option presented by the Inspector (removing the GCs from the plan and carrying on without them), the developers carried on trying to justify them and put together yet more evidence. This was examined in 2020, when West Tey and West of Braintree were rejected again. But unfortunately East Colchester (which is actually an urban extension, rather than a standalone GC) scraped through, with the help of a Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid.
Post-Hearing Letter from June 2018 - courtesy of Braintree District Council
The Inspector's post-hearing letter to the North Essex Authorities, dated 8th June 2018, detailing his reasons for rejection.
Post-Hearing Letter from May 2020 - courtesy of Braintree District Council
The Inspector's post-hearing letter to the North Essex Authorities, dated 15th May 2018, detailing his varied decisions.
Vital garden town link road suffers spiralling costs - courtesy of East Anglian Daily Times
As campaigners predicted, the HIF bid is now looking very shaky.
Uttlesford District Garden Communities
Uttlesford campaigners fought off three stand-alone GC's. The developers tried to copy the North Essex Garden Communities, because Government, developers and planners all loved them. They failed.
Post-Hearing Letter from January 2020 - courtesy of Uttlesford District Council
The Inspectors' post-hearing letter to Uttlesford District Council, dated 10th January 2020, detailing their decisions.
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