One of the few policy proposals that has been able to gain support across the political spectrum is the idea that we need a new generation of new towns. If we are going to make a serious attempt to address England’s housing problems we are not going to be able to do it with incremental growth around the edges of existing settlements. Either housebuilding on the fringes will be on too modest a scale to make a dent in the problem or, if plans are scaled up, they are likely to run into implacable local opposition and make impact on the problem at all.
Eighteen months ago David Cameron was making all sorts of positive noises about the Coalition’s plans to identify suitable locations for new towns. But it’s all gone a bit quiet since then.
Jim Pickard at the FT today notes that:
The communities department had been expected to unveil a “prospectus” setting out ways to create new garden cities. But the announcement has been cancelled on at least two occasions in the past year.
Today has also seen the launch of the 2014 Wolfson Prize in Economics, which is focusing on precisely the issue of new settlements.
Progress? Possibly not. [Read more...]