New garden towns and the Oxford to Cambridge corridor

The government has stated its wish to find locations for new garden towns, and to expand ambitions for the Oxford to Cambridge growth corridor.

The UK’s original garden settlements grew from the provision of housing for a workforce. Josiah Wedgwood built better employee housing near  his new factory at Etruria in the eighteenth century. Later developments  like Port Sunlight and Bournville continued the tradition of creating a village community for a workforce, with better quality housing with gardens, green spaces and community facilities.

The garden towns movement began with Letchworth and Welwyn. It extended its influence over larger and more recent new towns like Milton Keynes. The idea was to preserve a more rural setting for housing and to use good architecture and design to create a better  environment. The developments contrasted with the more crowded housing of the Industrial Revolution in the large industrial cities where gardens were cramped or non existent and space more restricted for each family.

These success stories of UK architecture and planning show that it is possible to build in ways that reflect the wishes of many to live in green surroundings and to harness the best of design.

Modern developers often build properties that draw on traditional styles of house with characteristics from former eras. There are contemporary variants of Elizabethan half timbered, of Georgian classical and terrace, and of Victorian villa and terrace.

It will be interesting to see where the government  might find support for new garden towns and to see  what designs the advocates will propose. Milton Keynes is in my view a success story, with a very green environment to offset the grid pattern of main roads and service roads which place the town firmly in the age of the car.

Our traditional settlements that have grown more slowly over the years benefit from a rich diversity in styles as each era added or replaced some parts of the urban landscape. They usually retain an ancient road pattern which creates jams and bottlenecks as people try to get to school, work and the shops using their cars.  The new towns offer a chance of  design that accommodates the instinct for personal mobility that people share.

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81 Comments

  1. Lifelogic
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 5:58 am | Permalink

    Indeed, except that governments for years have been against personal mobility in the form of cars anyway. For many years they have spent a fortune blocking the roads and failing to build new ones. Restricting road space to insert, usually empty, bus lanes with profitable mugging cameras, anti-car traffic lights and the likes.

    Cambridge is surrounded by large areas of flat fairly boring farm land and yet there is a huge lack of housing due to the over restrictive planning restrictions. You can build houses for pigs, cows, chickens or grow crops but not it seems house humans.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Frazer Nelson thinks the Tories are finally on the front foot. Well hardly, it was still a tax increasing, investment deterring, self employed and tenant mugging, tax complexity increasing budget.

      They are still on the floor but not quite dead but only as there is no better alternative. To really get on the front foot they should have scrapped stamp duty and IHT for all, gone for easy hire and fire, refused to pay anything to the EU for trade, abandoned HS2, all the green subsidies and Hinkley C, had a bonfire of red tape, relaxed planning and fired all the people who work for the state who do little of any use (about half of them). Also scrapped all the cheap loans for the many pointless degrees they foolishly fund (about 75% of them). They should have started charging for the dire NHS and encourage many more to go privately for health and education with tax breaks and vouchers.

      Scrapping Stamp duty for a few fist time buyers giving vendors and buyers an extra £5,000 hardly even begins to cut the mustard. We still have stamp duty at the absurd 15% (up to) rate and IHT moves wealth and investment out of the country everyday and deters its arrival. We still have an IHT threshold of less than 1/10 of that in the USA. Still Osborne’s promise of £1M each threshold is not in place. Just get the state out of the way and the economy could grow at least three times as quickly as the OBR suggest.

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/11/23/finally-conservatives-front-foot-now-time-puncture-myths-corbynism/

      Zero vision from the interventionist, tax borrow and regulate, socialists at nos 10 & 11 alas.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:46 am | Permalink

      A first post which misses the point as usual.

      Just how does he do it !

      What time do you get up, Lifelogic ? Do you own a special machine ?

    • Tad Davison
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Tell me about it LL,

      My eldest two kids had to move miles away because of the local housing shortage that has driven up house prices to a prohibitive extent, and my youngest can’t even get on the housing ladder at all. I do have reservations about building on prime agricultural land though. The nation is barely able to feed itself these days, and that land might be needed in future, ironically, because of projected population growth.

      It always comes down to supply and demand, and whilst too many people are chasing too few houses, only the relatively well off will be able to afford them. The least well off will always be playing catch-up if ever they can.

      I wonder if massively high net migration to the UK might have something to do with skewing the balance of the market (he says tongue in cheek)?

      Errant politicians created this mess, but others it seems haven’t a clue how to solve it. Immigration and a large workforce might seem like the way to pay off our massive national debt, brought about by bailing out scumbags who aren’t fit to be in positions of responsibility, but it brings with it all sorts of other problems they simply haven’t thought through. And all the time, living standards are going down, and our infrastructure is creaking under the weight of it all.

      Where will it end I wonder?

      Tad Davison

      Cambridge

    • Hope
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:36 am | Permalink

      They are not garden towns they are urban sprawls which would normally be rejected. And they should based on May’s promise to cut immunity gyration to tens of thousands!
      Colchester is the largest sprawl in the south east and Taunton in the south west. No infrastructure to support these urban refugee camps. Immigrats account for most of the houses being built, per migrant watch stats. How can Hammond budget for public services when over 800,000 enter the country each year and no end in sight and he does mention whatsoever? It did not feature in his budget. House building cannot match the current immigrantion, nor welfare.

      Budget of fiction. Still May in Brussels to give away over £40 billion of our taxes for nothing in turn. Will the U.K. Pay the same to each country it wishes to trade with and will their citizens have their own laws as a right of address over the U.K.? If not why not? We never voted to extend indefinitely to the EU and definitely did not vote leave to comply with the four pillars of the EU.

      • DaveM
        Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

        Quite. I cannot remember ever being so utterly exasperated by the govt and the political “class” in general.

    • Know-Dice
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:59 am | Permalink

      LL, certainly the councils around here (and that includes Wokingham) are always trying to block “rat runs” rather than try and work out why people would choose to not take the main roads…

      Is it going to be a good idea to build on fertile farming land?
      As far as I understand it we will need it in order to produce more food locally.

  2. Mark B
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Good morning

    Build it, and they will come. And given that is in tune to 300k per year, we are going to need more and more. All tax payer funded and subsidised for the land owners and developers. Oh, and all will want to work on London so transport there is going to be even worse.

    But I notice that it is only England that is to receive this influx. Scotland gets more of our money but, despite being the least densely populated part of the UK no garden or ‘Glen’ villages or towns are to be built there.

    As others like Jools B have said yesterday, we the English need our own parliament.

    • turboterrier
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

      @ Mark B

      Scotland gets more of our money but, despite being the least densely populated part of the UK no garden or ‘Glen’ villages or towns are to be built there.

      Simply because there is no real investment unless you wish to count the thousands of heavily subsidized wind turbines covering the country. The political situation with the ongoing independence dream and all the higher taxes up here is maybe why a lot of people are trying to get out before it all goes belly up. They will need all those new houses being proposed down south big time.

      One day the Westminster politicians will wake up to the fact that nothing happens up in Scotland unless it gets funded it never has and never will.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

      The Conservatives are largely a party of England and yet they keep kicking the English in the teeth at every turn.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      Mark B. Totally agree with you on Scotland. We have trouble renting 20 acres of land to farmers now because they are not so keen to farm now that they are all beneficiaries of wind farm subsidies. They have become wealthy overnight. We have approached the council with a view yo have either a travellers site or some social housing built as we are on a bus route into the nearby town. We have got nowhere. They have no vision here. You have to jump through hoops to even be able to build one house on your own land let alone a few! Most people get turned down. One woman wanted to add a conservatory but was refused permission because of aesthetics yet she was surrounded by 120metre wind turbines! You couldn’t make it up.

    • Timaction
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:25 am | Permalink

      The Conservative Party…………….”building homes for migrants”. We pay for and support any foreign cause!!

    • DaveM
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      Desperately. None of our MPs speak for us in the UK parliament.

  3. Prigger
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 6:13 am | Permalink

    “Modern developers often build properties that draw on traditional styles of house with characteristics from former eras. ”
    Sheffield did the same with Stalinesque grey blocks of flats

    • Sir Joe Soap
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

      No prizes for European City of Culture there then! At least Sheffield Council didn’t spend hard earned taxpayers’ money going for the award, when it was never going to happen. Unless perhaps Mrs May is offering the EU another £20bn to keep us in the competition? Come on Mme May, you know it’s the right thing to do.

  4. Ian Wragg
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    600,000 more in work by 2020. You’ll need more than 3 garden cities.

    • Ian Wragg
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      Today Mrs May goes to Brussels to shower more borrowed money to unlock trade talks.
      We are paying to trade at a massive deficit whilst the rest of the world trades for free.
      No doubt the trade agreements offered will amour to EU lite with no discernable change noticed by the public at large.

      • Prigger
        Posted November 25, 2017 at 12:38 am | Permalink

        Couldn’t Mrs May set off earlier and go by ferry?

    • Hope
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:40 am | Permalink

      Ian, there are more already. Hence the outcry for infrastructure when this govt spends £82 billion for one rail journey! Or £14 billion each year in overseas aid, £2 billion to the EU and £2 billion to consultants to spend it!

    • bigneil
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

      Just remove the word “work” Ian.

  5. Roy Grainger
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    The population of Milton Keynes is about 250,000. Net migration to the UK is 250,000 per year. Arguing about the architectural style of proposed new towns seems like a displacement activity.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

      Indeed. Deckchairs and Titanic springs to mind.

    • forthurst
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      You are so wrong; this is all about the white heat of the technological revolution , hence the Oxford to Cambridge corridor, geddit? Anyone who suggests that it is a means to accommodate the overflowing populations of Luton, Bedford and Milton Keynes without the stipid English knowing what’s really happening is a conspiracy theorist.

    • Richard
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      It does rather. If migration was under control (i.e. 90’s levels or less) then towns would be able to develop organically, rather than building estates of 100’s of homes that destroy the countryside and the feel of a town/village.

      Milton Keynes in itself is ok, but do we really want more Milton Keynes’s? One is enough.

  6. Fedupsoutherner
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 6:59 am | Permalink

    It would also be good to have more bungalows built with the elderly in mind. We are wanting to move but the only parks catering for the elderly do not offer garages or any kind of outside storage facilities. While some people are happy not to garden at all, others like to potter but need somewhere to store equipment. Well insulated homes for the elderly are a must too. I have just spent the last 5 weeks doing much more sitting around after having a hip replacement and have found myself getting very cold and having to put my heating on at around 12noon. It is expensive. In January I have to have major knee surgery so my heating bill will soar. Our home has very cold floors as we have a void under them. We need homes that are more affordable to run when on a limited income.

  7. Sahara gold
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 7:15 am | Permalink

    I don’t think we need any new garden towns at all; if built they would just become enclaves full of undocumented foreigners ……….., ( using ed)the NHS and the welfare system.

    The government should act upon manifesto promises and get a grip on immigration. We should reform our deportation procedures to remove foreign criminals from these shores once their sentences have been served.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:18 am | Permalink

      Indeed selective immigration is indeed what is needed. No one should be here without suitable health insurance and an ability to earn circa £40K+ or sufficient private wealth.

      But we have T May.

      https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/sep/05/no-10-theresa-may-rules-out-points-based-immigration-system-for-britain-brexit

      Er…. just why is she so daft?

    • Lifelogic
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

      Indeed paying perhaps 4K in tax and NI PA getting 30K+ back in in work benefits, medical care, schooling for children, long term care for elderly parents etc…. Plus needing housing, roads, police, social services ….. Yet the remainers think that such low paid immigration is a somehow a net benefit to the country? Can they not do arithmetic?

    • lp
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Should deport foreign criminals after they are convicted, their punishment is then up to their country of origin.

    • Fedupsoutherner
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:43 am | Permalink

      Sahara. Agree. The new homes will only cater for new immigrants and therefore we will still have a housing crisis. Where us all the power going to come from for all these new homes together with electric cars? The wind farms near us are all idle and were yesterday too. No wind and bleeding cold. Only expecting 4 degrees today.

    • Hope
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Sadly, Rudd admitted to losing 56,000 unlawful settlers including hundreds of criminals only three weeks ago when she told the police any request for more money would fall on deaf ears. Where do these people live, get health care, or education? Anyone speak up oor challenge these people or too scared in case of being labelled racist? Pretty difficult to lose hundreds of thousands of people if we include those least on May’s watch.

      JR, what is being done (about these people ed)

    • Ken Moore
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      Not a word in the budget about tackling the demand side of the housing problem.

    • bigneil
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

      SG – even I know that manifesto promises are a competition among all party members to see who can come up with the most ludicrous one. If MPs had to do the job they promise in their manifesto – or get the sack – we would have run out of MPs a very loooooooooong while ago.

  8. Nig l
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 7:52 am | Permalink

    So hear comes the spin,garden towns to pretend the green belt is not being trashed. If the government had vision and courage it would have used tax incentives and development money to persuade people to move north to the old industrial towns and cities that are still in need of massive rejuvenation and have brownfield available.

    These should be nominated as regeneration sites, we should find a way of suspending EU rules on grant aid and give tax benefits to developers for industrial units and housing, meaningful relocation and start up grants for companies with the housing stamp duty free for employees that have relocated.

    This is no doubt full of holes nonetheless surely more has to be done to shift people to the ‘northern powerhouses’ instead of more grief for the south and south midlands.

    I know I know it costs money and takes time and you want a political fix and I know there is nothing you can do with the aid budget but once again we are suffering to fund many useless projects that gives us no payback by any definable measure.

  9. James Doran
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    The government would like to have more garden towns. The government will have a good think about where they should be. The government will set targets for how many will be ‘affordable’. The government will insist that…

    Meanwhile Etruria, Bournville and Port Sunlight were build by private enterprise without planning regulations, building regulations, minimum room sizes, energy use targets and rules on how powerful an external light needs to be.

  10. Caterpillar
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Though it seems reasonable to leverage the London Oxford Birmingham Cambridge diamond a simple housing discussion does seem to miss some crucial points.

    1. The imbalance of the economy and population – there is a free trade zone opportunity after Brexit
    2. Recognise that GDP per capita and average salary are currently within about 10% of each other, good proxies? – I suspect that immigrants that are below average pay are either contributing less than existing GDP per capita, hence pulling the average down or if not adding to increasing inequality and social dissatisfaction. Of course if earning more than average and pulling GDP per capita up then no problems.
    3. Building houses pulls construction from commercial, the market needs to be free to balance this.

  11. Richard1
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    What is the point of offering the EU £40bn for trade talks? The talks might – probably will – result in a take it or leave it offer to remain in the customs union & single market. Do we still hand over the £40bn in those circs? The £40bn – if that’s going to be the number – needs to be contingent on signing of a comprehensive trade deal. No deal, no money. Nothing agreed until everything is agreed. The Govt are not being very clear on this.

  12. stred
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    Lord Adonis of HS2 and Free Movement, Mrs May’s chosen wise advisor, was talking about five garden towns of up to half a million population with two near Cambridge and Oxford. This would accommodate the 2.5m increase in population estimated into the next decade and recommended for the growth and cheap labour required by big business.

    What is the difference between a new ‘garden town’ with green spaces as required by existing planning law and a new city with similar standards, both, of course, to be built in the countryside in the most crowded part of Europe? The answer is that ‘garden town’ sounds more likely to fool the voters.

    etc ed

  13. Anonymous
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    The infrastructure must come with the housing too but it isn’t.

    We have a population crisis, not a housing crisis and yet this is unmentioned.

    Again the crap Tories rely on us to vote for them to keep someone worse out.

    Better not carry on with this “boomers caused the housing crisis” line then. Attacking the core vote is doing a Ratner.

    Under 25s are unlikely to ever vote for you, however much you try to appeal to them. It’s rather like Radio 2 playing R&B music to draw in a younger audience. All it does is lose its existing followers.

    • Anonymous
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

      ‘Garden Towns’ – a similar euphemism as ‘Eco Towns’.

      It’s all concreting over out country to cope with levels of immigration , whatever you call it. This is what caused us to vote to leave the EU.

  14. Sir Joe Soap
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Like many commentators, you’re deliberately ignoring the I word, which is the root cause of all this housing so-called “need”. The government is supposed to have taken back control of the borders, but it hasn’t. So why is it running round in circles to get new houses built for completely unknown need?

    Like many commentators, you’re forgetting the need for infrastructure. The architecture is all very well, but why build in a corridor which is already clogged, without a single road link, and where the only sign of any connection is one bus between Oxford and Cambridge?

    The whole Garden Village exercise here is a Talkfest for the Local Council, trying to stretch existing infrastructure to the limit to meet government targets.

  15. Bert Young
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 8:49 am | Permalink

    More and more congestion is the result of more and more housing . This country simply has to stop the growth in population in order for us to preserve our values and identity . Immigration has increased and living standards decreased ; yesterday this ratio was highlighted in the news . Furthermore the forecasters point to several more years before we can look forward to a bit extra .

    Those who think we can simply continue to absorb ad infinitum and remain the sort of country with traditions that our fathers and mothers could identify with are bonkers . It has to stop and we must have control ; putting ourselves in the hands of others has dragged us down .

  16. Chris
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    “Garden” is a euphemism to disguise precisely what these new large population centres actually are viz attempts to house the uncontrolled mass migration that we have at the moment which has been a direct result of belonging to the EU, and which has been supplemented by immigration from countries outside the EU. Hence these new “garden” cities are actually en expression of the failure of current government immigration policy. Get a grip, and tackle the root causes of the problem: unsustainable population growth produced by our membership of the EU and our not fit for purpose immigration controls (which themselves are dictated to by the EU with regard to immigration from the EU, asylum seekers, economic migrants, and those immigrants who have exploited the EU by doing a “stepped” migration into the UK, via the EU.

  17. margaret
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I support them 100%.We don’t seem to have planners around who can think about the whole area and put buildings into context . They spoil the areas by hotch potch throwing up of vulgar buildings and don’t taken into consideration the need to keep natures balance in Towns as well as villages. The TV gardeners are always telling us how we could improve our ecological lot by sensible planning and planting, but then the throw away- take away plebs who stand on flowers and use green areas to throw their fag packets and let their dogs defecate; tribe in . They throw their paint and plaster over fields and empty cans and plastics over rural areas and you will see them throwing Mc Donalds containers and cigarettes out of their windows whilst giving the V signs to passing motorists.

  18. The Prangwizard
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Off topic, but this where pathetically weak leadership is getting us. An Indian diplomat is saying we should pay billions for a free trade deal with them.

    And today that pathetic leader is about to do some more grovelling to the EU.

    As soon as people smell weakness and fear they pounce. We are being made the laughing stock of the world by this government of fake Tories.

  19. Iain Moore
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    Yesterday the Daily Mail reported that 865,000 non EU migrants were given residency permits here last year.

    But why we have a housing shortage is beyond our Government’s comprehension. These bright sparks when they were studying for their PPE degrees, clearly missed the day when their course covered the other side of the supply side of a market, and never got to learn about the effects of demand. This is beyond doubt because when ever they are asked about the housing shortage they never ever ever talk about the millions of migrants they are letting into the country and the effect that has.

    Now whether it is an issue of educational short comings or beyond their intellectual capacity to consider the effects of policy on more than one area , they , the British Governing classes are destroying our country.

    As Garden City’s (that is a misnomer if ever I heard one) are built to accommodate 70.000 people , we need more than 10 of them just to accommodate the people they allowed to live here last year.

    Mr Redwood what does it take for the Westminster village to take our concerns about mass immigration seriously? Voting for a Conservative government has been a waste of time. Voting to rid our selves of their much loved EU project is also being ignored. What do we have to do to stop our country being overwhelmed by people coming here to live?

  20. June Romans
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Why is it that only the general public understand that what we have is not a housing crisis, it’s an immigration crisis. Until the government gets a grip and stops allowing immigrants to claim benefits of any kind for at least five years, until they have built up a reasonable level of contributions, they will keep coming. And when is something going to be done about the uncounted thousands of illegals, who are occupying housing of some sort even though they have no right to be here? Deal with these issues before allowing any more of our precious countryside to disappear under concrete. We can’t feed our current population, and we don’t have enough water. It’s absolute madness.

  21. Ed Mahony
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Interesting post.

    For my bit, i wish planners would stick more with Queen Anne / Georgian Classical. It’s hard to go wrong here. But easy to go wrong and vulgar with mock Elizabethan and Victorian (not knocking these designs, in general, but easy to go wrong).

  22. BOF
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    All the grand schemes of Garden towns will achieve nothing if we have the continuing failure of the Home Office and Home Secretaries to control immigration. But then, I do not believe Government has any intention of keeping their promises with regard to reducing numbers. In any event it looks like we will be accepting free movement for the foreseeable, as well as bunging the corrupt edifice across the channel countless £billions.

    The Chancellor said that lack of investment was to blame for low productivity. More likely the addiction of big business to cheap labour.

  23. Yossarion
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    Liverpool is half the size it was forty years ago, there is plenty of space in the empty Northern towns with loads of housing that needs improvements before we turn yet another great swathe of England’s green and pleasant into Concrete Block and Tarmac.

  24. Turboterrier.
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    John, as you are very aware it is not only the estate/town infrastructure but all the other essentials for servicing the population.
    Top of most peoples list has to be energy, fine to have all this properties, business and industries but how and where is their energy going to come from and at what cost.

    The Office for Budget Responsibility has just published the latest fiscal supplementary tables following the Budget. It confirms the rising cost of the Climate Change Act, which will reach £14.4bn in 2022/23. The total cost over the next five years will be £66bn, equivalent to about £2500 per household.

    This and the report by Professor Helm (which seems to have been swept under the carpet, what was the point of the exercise and expense ) highlights yet again the total incompetence of politicians for generations in addressing the fallout from the baby boom in the 1950s. It was not if we just suddenly appeared unlike the 300,000 immigrants to this country on a yearly basis. I would hope that you make the report by the OBR a diary
    entry one of these days as the country is rapidly running out of time to keep trying to address problems with knee jerk solutions.

  25. Bob
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    “build in ways that reflect the wishes of many to live in green surroundings”

    by building on the Green Belt?
    There are houses for sale in Stoke for £1.

    Too many new arrivals expecting the taxpayer to provide housing for them in London.

    Amber Rudd should spend less time trying to sabotage Brexit and more time getting immigration back down to “tens of thousands” every year.

    If not, she should move over and make way for someone that can do the job.

  26. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    According to Migration Watch last year about 45% of the requirement for additional housing in England is attributable to the effects of immigration:

    https://www.migrationwatchuk.org/key-topics/housing

    That works out as more than 100,000 extra new homes needed every year in England just thanks to the large scale net immigration which has been allowed and encouraged by our government, against the wishes of the majority of the established body of citizens; without the injection of that additional demand for accommodation we would have been building enough new houses, in fact probably more than enough new houses.

    There is a simple, obvious and indisputable fact that anybody who comes from abroad to live here will need a roof over their head, that is unless the advocates of mass immigration reckon that the new arrivals can sleep on park benches or in tents.

  27. Denis Cooper
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Off-topic, I think it is becoming clearer that we should now tell the EU, and tell the world at large, that we are not prepared to bribe them just to get trade talks started, and in view of the blatant stupidity and intransigence of some of their leaders we will no longer seek any “deep and special” trade deal with them for the foreseeable future.

    When you have an Irish minister saying that they will not tolerate “anything that would imply a border on the island of Ireland”, 3 minutes in here:

    https://news.sky.com/video/is-the-norway-sweden-border-a-solution-for-ireland-11141058

    when it’s perfectly obvious to all that there already is, and for the foreseeable future there will continue to be, a border on the island of Ireland then there is really no point in any further discussions. We should unilaterally decide what we want to do on our side of the border and the foolish Irish government can do whatever it wants on its side.

    Bearing in mind that successive Irish governments have acted as puppets of the EU, and in particular of the German government, even in open defiance of the wishes of the Irish people, it is clear that the EU does not want any kind of special trade deal with us.

    Of course this will all be in flat contradiction of provisions of the EU treaties and of other international commitments entered into by the EU, but we know from long experience that this is what they are like; behind the facade of support for the rule of law they will do whatever they want if they think they can get away with it.

    It is possible that the Irish government is about to fall:

    https://euobserver.com/elections/140011

    “Irish crisis may complicate Brexit summit”

    but I don’t think we should rely on a new government being any more sensible.

  28. Man of Kent
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The Taxpayers Alliance note that if planning approval were to be given for homes within 10 mins walking distance of a railway station then a million new homes could be built in the green belt .

    Sounds a sensible suggestion to me .

  29. agricola
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 11:20 am | Permalink

    The root cause of the problem is excessive immigration. Does government intend to tackle this or are they content to play catch up. The reality is 600,000 per annum requiring accommodation at the bottom end of the market. It amounts to a city the size of Sheffield every year until government gets a grip on immigration or trains enough of the indigenous population to fill the jobs that at present necessitate immigrants.

    Are the citizens of Bicester, Thame, Aylesbury, Leighton Buzzard, and Royston ready for this or is the intention to create these new cities on disused MOD airfields such as Upper Heyford. Perhaps Wokingham with a population of only 30,000 is ripe to be turned into the next Bradford or Slough.

    How about starting by building a three lane motorway from Oxford M40 to Cambridge M11, and then arrange industrial and domestic development appended to it. Then you might have an Oxbridge Silicon Valley.

  30. acorn
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    For a start it will need a Motorway to connect to the M40; M1 and M11, to enable the rest of the country to get to this corridor in less than a day. And another HS2 rail station. The final public enquiry and outline planning permission will probably complete about 2030, with luck.

    Sadly, we don’t have a government that leads from the front; or knows how to use the magic money tree. Probably best for us to sub-contract the government of the UK to Dubai World.

    • a-tracy
      Posted November 25, 2017 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Yes it would be nice to actually do something within five years, a single term of government before an opposition government or alternative local council are elected to overturn everything, it would be good to take party politics out of it and just all agree a way forward together and get on with it.

  31. Peter
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Bourneville was a product of paternalistic employers who had an interest in more than the profit and loss account. We could do with more like them. However, the businesses of the Quaker chocolate manufacturers are now all owned by global conglomerates.

    The garden town movement was not just additional accommodation based on a cost benefit analaysis. Milton Keynes likewise had a bit more vision.

    Nowadays in London planning permission is granted in cahoots with developers who are purely looking for a profit. ‘Affordable’ homes are no such thing. Decent quality council housing is no longer built.

    I am not sure that catering for car ownership is the sensible way forward nowadays. I have a car and a garage to put it in but unless I drive to a destination with plentiful free parking I have to find a space to leave my vehicle and pay for the privilege. In London, public transport is a lot easier for most of the day and traffic jams are not an issue. Cambridge is also not a great place for someone who uses a car, pedestrians and cyclists are better catered for.

    Many new apartments in London are owned by foreign investors who neither live in them or rent them out. This needs to be addressed. Decent apartments could house many. They would need to be well looked after. Concierges would be a good idea to keep tabs on anti social behaviour.

    • a-tracy
      Posted November 25, 2017 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      My friends used to be a ‘concierge’ in a social housing development, except they were called caretakers, woken at all times day and night to deal with anti-social behaviour, sick in lifts, small fires, regular litter and bin problems, noise upsets, liaison with all the emergency services, often put themselves in jeopardy stepping in to stop trouble escalating. They were glad to be free of it. It’s not quite the same if people don’t have a stake in the home, the community of the larger local area.

      • Peter
        Posted November 25, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        The troublesome types need to be identified early and evicted. Access only for residents, with a check on visitors comings and goings.

        Evictees could be offered neglected accommodation alongside other no hopers. The object being to raise the standard for the many.

        Pride in your neighbourhood is not exclusive to owner occupiers. People used to scrub the front doorstep in the poorest areas. No need to let the worst residents take liberties.

  32. Man of Kent
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    To encourage property ownership we need to build to a price .

    Given that the average household income is £26,000 or thereabouts and that a preferred mortgage multiple might be four then how do we build houses for sale at £100,000 ??

    First give countryside planning approval to land where blocks of 4-6 wood framed houses might be built with easy access to utilities .
    Hold RIBA competitions for best designs as template solutions .

    Next given that building cost is about £60 per sq ft and if the land cost is kept at £40 per sq ft and 100 % CGT relief is granted to the farmer / landowner then we could achieve this .

    Such a scheme would enable those brought up in the countryside to own their own home there .

    Employ local builders and tradesmen .

    Give a boost to landowners .
    Keep government out of the picture except to give a Conservative tinge to what would be a private development

    Worth considering ?

    • a-tracy
      Posted November 25, 2017 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t we have 40 year lower months repayment mortgages instead of 25 years?

      We need more choice in areas where people want to live but this isn’t in the interest of current property owners, old home developers, or new home developers.

      ‘Garden villages’ are great as long as everything is considered from hospitals to new schools, doctors, ENTERTAINMENT that can be walked to.

      Why can’t we always utilise roof space for bedrooms instead of leaving 🔼 for spiders, drafts and water tanks that are no longer required. Perhaps homes should have cellars for storage, putting bikes, bins, vacuums, ironing equip, washing machines, freezers etc. to free up living space above ground, not all changes to housing have been to the good. I appreciate the digging out of drains add cost at the start but sometimes these inconveniences end up better in the very long term.

  33. Barbara
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Britain granted almost 900,000 residency permits to non EU migrants in 2016, new figures show

    http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/8456381/3-16112017-BP-EN.pdf/e690a572-02d2-4530-a416-ab84a7fcbf22

    When will this lunacy end? Governments just seem to want to create problems these days.

  34. Mike Wilson
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Do us all a favour Mr. Redwood – get them to build some houses somewhere other than around Wokingham. The quality of life around here is really beginning to suffer. Traffic and people everywhere!

    • Chris
      Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

      …and round Bracknell too, although, in reality, with all the new housing developments being built, Bracknell simply merges now into Wokingham, which in turn merges into Reading. It is just one vast housing development our area, with very significant traffic congestion causing huge delays and causing the loss of many work hours. That is quite aside from the unsustainable pressure on other infrastructure here including, for example, schools and hospitals, water supplies. Yes, our lovely green and pleasant Green Belt has been devoured by bricks and concrete. Our so called village has (on its edges and within approx. 3 miles) 6 massive housing developments, each with hundreds of houses, making up the Bracknell/Binfield/Wokingham sprawl. Our tory council apparently broke/allowed to be broken a 100 year non development covenant on some of the land to permit one huge development, a covenant which was originally signed up to in order to secure planning and reduce opposition for hundreds of houses in an earlier phase of developing the land between Binfield and Bracknell. It was a scandal, and the local action groups did not stand a chance against developers, who kept appealing, and an authority which, it is alleged, indulged in apparently less than honest practices.

  35. barrie wilde
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

    Agree with John…Milton Keynes is a success story demonstrating how green spaces, industry, commerce, leisure and housing can be integrated into a vibrant, healthy dynamic and successful conurbation. However, ‘regeneration’ looks as though this success is going to be changed…poor management of social housing rent has left seven estates dilapidated and deprived….the cure…well for the first estate it requires the construction of an additional 667 developer new houses to generate sufficient funds to maintain 278 social housing units…yes you did read this correctly…..the losers, obviously the social housing tenants, the winners, excuse me if I sound cynical…the developers?

    • a-tracy
      Posted November 25, 2017 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

      Precisely.

  36. Richard
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    I tend to find modern developments quite ‘warren’ like. No front gardens, tiny back gardens, useless for parking, an extra story to cram more into the same footprint. Also importantly: totally anonymous. A modern housing estate looks and feels the same no matter where you are in the country!

    They’re nothing like as good as 70’s developments where houses tend to be set back from the road and have decent sized gardens. I believe it’s the case that minimum house sizes and house/garden ratios have got worse and worse.

    Also, this taking off old styles (often poorly with pre-blocked up windows) is the ultimate in architectural kitsch. If you’re going to take off a style it has to be a thorough and honest attempt, else you’re better off aiming for quality and modern.

    If the government greatly increased building/plot ratios and reverted to guiding developers towards something more 70’s like there’d be far less opposition to new developments. It’s rather painful seeing our fields being replaced by the cramped housing I describe above.

    • Prigger
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 6:48 am | Permalink

      I agree. I spent years going in and out of estates and developments and became miserable. Very little variation. You can stand in a street in Cumbria and one in Norfolk and not see a difference. Very odd, the differences inside are minimal. Same kinds of furniture, decor, everything. Not a bit like my dwelling with a resident cow and pig in the lounge to cut down on the central heating bill and as a talking point for guests.

  37. David Price
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    But just who will own these pretty houses and who will live in them?

  38. Local Lad
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    This idyllic picture of garden towns has a certain allure. Unfortunately, as a nation, we can’t afford to allow every family a nice single or two storey house with a pleasant garden; we just don’t have the land. Furthermore we expect luxury as standard. Look what the developers are building: acres and acres of “luxury, executive detached homes.” The only solution is to build upward. That is how people live in many countries (and many wealthy people in this country). Instead of groaning on about the housing shortage we must recognise the real problem – too many people, both in the UK and world wide. That’s the threat that politicians must acknowledge and act upon. It can be done. David Attenborough is pointing us in the right direction.

  39. Original Richard
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

    “These success stories of UK architecture and planning show that it is possible to build in ways that reflect the wishes of many to live in green surroundings and to harness the best of design.”

    At current high rates of immigration, not including natural population growth, we will require each year accommodation equivalent to 1 Milton Keynes or 5 Welwyn Garden Cities or 8 Letchworths.

    I don’t see such a building program a popular alternative to the government curbing immigration to “tens of thousands” as Mr. Cameron promised in his “no ifs no buts” speech 14/04/2011.

    • a-tracy
      Posted November 25, 2017 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      Green surroundings are nice and ideal when you have good access to decent provisions, evening entertainment, a bustling high street all without the need of a car. Londoners would feel like they’ve been buried alive if they were dropped in one of these ‘garden villages’ when you think waiting 10 mins for a tube or bus is a lifetime try waiting an hour at the wrong time for your start time at work and you have just hang around around for 30 minutes and the 15 minute journey in a car takes an hour on that bus!

  40. Mark N
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Mr Redwood where as I appreciate your intent to allow your followers to raise issues that you yourself would be unable to utter in the HOC. The PC brigade need removing so the grown ups can have a sensible conversation about immigration for I fear brexit will die a death of a thousand cuts without said conversation.

    I am afraid your party is selling the electorate down the river as neither remainer or leaver will be able to stomach the mess May and her cabinet are destined to leave us with. Time for someone to step up?

    Oh and we don’t need more houses we need less people. Apologies if I come across as bitter but how much more of this backsliding are we supposed to put up with?

    • matthu
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 5:22 am | Permalink

      Mark N – Can I recommend that you search out (all) my contributions to John’s two posts on Build Rates and Planning Permissions and We owe the EU Nothing?

      I started off feeling alarmist, now I feel almost sanguine and am beginning to see the positive possibilities. Also to recognise that behind the scenes people are working hard to transition us into the future.

      They won’t allow a “hard” Brexit as this could be too disruptive for the country as a whole i.e. splitting families, violence etc. If you accept that, then there will be a managed Brexit (remember, Brexit means Brexit) designed to safeguard whatever “project” is envisioned for us.

      But they are really struggling to put it all together in the time available.

      Best wishes.

      • matthu
        Posted November 26, 2017 at 5:23 am | Permalink

        P.S. I was/am a Brexiteer.

  41. Ian Pennell
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    Dear John Redwood,

    Having seen the main points of the Budget, I am pleased that Philip Hammond did not produce any budget measures that have gone down disastrously. He has pulled off a remarkable feat of combining fiscal discipline with sufficient money for various causes to silence his critics; given the state of the Public Finances and a slow-growing economy that is some achievement.

    That said, the measures do not go far enough to address some of the underlying problems facing Britain; one of which is unaffordable housing. There have certainly been some measures in the Budget to make a start- the £44 billion over the next five years (mostly as loans) and giving local councils more powers to borrow money to put into housing will help but it will not fundamentally address the problem in a hurry.

    I note that the Prime Minister is considering giving up to £40 billion to the European Union so that the Government can get the European Union to agree to talks. How about we just walk away and trade on WTO terms, then we can use that £40 billion to pay building companies directly to build homes. Assuming that it costs £50,000 in materials and labour to build one home, that £40 billion would build 800,000 homes – homes that are badly needed: Some of these homes could be sold cheaply to first-time buyers with the proceeds used to build hundreds of thousands’ more homes. To support the needed building of homes taxes could be levied on developers that just sit on land for years, it will also be necessary to face down the nimbys and environmentalists and start building on some of the green-belt around towns and cities.

    A big Construction Boom like this would also turbo-charge the struggling British economy, leading to more tax-revenues that will keep the National Debt to GDP Ratio on a safely downwards trajectory whilst making available £billions extra to spend on the NHS and Police- and for Colleges to train the extra builders, plumbers and electricians that will be needed to build a million new homes in the next few years.

    This is the sort of bold measure the Conservatives need to produce from now on to stop Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell from getting anywhere near power.

    Halving the Foreign Aid budget and using the savings over the next five years will raise a similar amount of money to spend on the suggested housing policy. That is an option if Theresa May and David Davis deem it absolutely necessary to get the EU to talk trade. It would be a really bold move that would put the Conservatives on the side of British Voters, whilst wrong-footing the Left at the same time!

    Ian Pennell

  42. miami.mode
    Posted November 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

    Astounding really that government creates a problem, bigger population, and then struggles to provide an answer.

    • matthu
      Posted November 26, 2017 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      The problem was created to manage a bigger need: a rapid transition to a very different (better?) society. Unfortunately, Brexit has disrupted the smooth managed approach and things are having to be accelerated. After which, the excess population would have managed the immediate need, and will be encouraged to return from whence they came.

      Can I recommend that you search out (all) my contributions to John’s two posts on Build Rates and Planning Permissions and We owe the EU Nothing?

      I started off alarmist about the situation, but now see how it will be resolved.

      John kindly posted my comments without curtailing them, and without comment from himself.

  43. a-tracy
    Posted November 25, 2017 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Oh and when I say try it for six months I mean try it with no car!

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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