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Parliamentary Debate

New Garden City initiative leads call for a Cities Act urging Government to prioritise public transport, housing and prepare for the coming population boom.'


Calling on Government to introduce a new Cities Act, Brian Q Love, Architect and Co-author of the ConnectedCities book, urged support for legislation giving independence and empowerment to cities and regions. With new powers localities can plan and develop a coordinated, strategic approach to Garden Cities. He led a Parliamentary debate alongside a broad coalition of organisations advocating integrated housing and transport planning to address the current air quality, congestion and housing crisis, as well as to prepare for the predicted population boom of an additional 15 million people in the UK by 2050.

 

Mr Love noted that theConnectedCities methodology is in line with numerous government policies, including development around transport hubs, devolution and neighbourhood planning. The UK Government is facing many challenges in a post Brexit scenario requiring a new legislative approach to planning, sustainability, devolution and the environment.

 

DrRoberta Blackman-Woods MP, Shadow Minister for Housing &Communities, due to speak, but unable to attend owing to Brexit negotiations, issued the following statement; 'Government policy requires good quality design, transport links, infrastructure, sustainable scale, local vision and engagement, healthy green spaces and future proofing.  But it does not explain how settlements will be funded or delivered. Labour believes that new or amended legislation is required to enable Local Authorities to build inclusive garden cities.'

 

CamillaWeenConnectedCities' Head of Communications said, 'Groups of towns on rail lines will be able to voluntarily federate to become a ConnectedCity to plan new settlements. Development would only be within 1km of a rail station. Analysis shows more than 10 million new people could be housed in South East England and over 35 million nationally, all within walking distance of public transport and a short stroll from greenery. More cars would not be needed.'

 

RupertWalker, Network Rail Planning Director gave examples of lines which have been, or could be, reopened to meet demand and which are aligned with the ConnectedCities proposal, ‘Rail passenger numbers have doubled in the past ten years. We are committed to develop infrastructure to meet the needs of the transport network now and in the future. Network Rail is encouraging a broad collaboration to tackle transport challenges and welcome a diversity of partners to deliver suitable solutions.' 

 

MattThomson, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Head of Planning, encouraged the ConnectedCities approach to planning and acknowledged this interpretation was modern and yet true to the original principals of Ebenezer Howard. ‘The ConnectedCities strategy includes compact walkable settlements with excellent access to public transport and realises Howard’s vision of groups of towns linked by railways.' 

 

Phillip Waddy, Chair, Royal Institute of British Architects, Planning Committee reinforced, 'ConnectedCities offers a practical solution to the problems of increasing population and demand for housing and car use. Clear commitment and backing from Government are needed to seize the opportunities.'

 

The debate considered capturing the uplift in land value which accompanies granting of planning permission. Rupert Walker confirmed that Network Rail is embracing such methods as part of working with communities.

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