Government’s garden village plans ‘insufficient’ according to leading lawyer

The government’s plans for 14 new ‘garden villages’ and three garden towns are inadequate to meet the need for new housing, according to a leading housing expert.

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The location of the proposed village developments was revealed by the Housing and Planning Minister, Gavin Barwell earlier this month, delivering more than 48,000 homes with each project comprising between 1,500 and 10,000 units. Plans for three new garden towns in Aylesbury, Taunton and Harlow & Gilston were also unveiled, including 10,000 homes each.

Each site will be backed by a £6m government fund for the next two financial years, with a particular focus on resources to increase the speed of development and attract the expertise necessary. The developments will also be able to access the £2.3bn Housing Infrastructure Fund which was announced by the chancellor in the Autumn Statement.

But according to David Baybut, Head of Real Estate at the national law firm, Stephensons, such plans could not be considered sufficient in meeting the demand for housing stock:

“While this is a positive step to assist with the current housing shortages, it has previously been estimated that approximately 300,000 additional homes are needed to keep pace with demand.

“The new garden villages and towns would represent only a quarter of that number and between now and these developments being completed, we might reasonably expect that demand would have increased further.

“It also remains to be seen what proportion of new properties would be sold under government backed affordable homes schemes; such as shared ownership. These schemes have helped first time buyers to get on the property ladder and their inclusion in new developments is particularly well received in the South of England where high property prices are particularly prohibitive to first time buyers getting on the housing ladder.

David Baybut is Head of Real Estate at the national law firm Stephensons. For more information, visit www.stephensons.co.uk or find us on Twitter.

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