Today, the Govt has announced that the Govt is injecting £6million of public money into the construction of 48,000 new homes in 14 locations across England. They are the latest batch of proposed new 'Garden Villages and Cities'. Must admit I'm quite amused that these huge new housing developments are so described. Makes them sound like attractive places filled with flowers, parks and butterflies, and little children skipping, laughing and playing. Who could possibly not want to live in a 'Garden Village'. Me for one. I prefer to live in the country. Living in London for three days a week is done because it has to be done.
But I think I'm rather in favour of this plan - even if it's not that straightforward. Like a lot of people, especially those living near the selected sites, villages and towns (not yet gardenised) I dislike the thought of all these thousands of green and wooded acres disappearing under tarmac and concrete. But there is no real choice. Every year, between 300,000/400,000 additional immigrants move into the UK, mostly England. I don't see that slowing down much any time soon. And we are all living longer - not dying as we used to do, conveniently making our houses and bungalows available to future generations. And our offspring want their own pads, to do their own thing at a much earlier age. massive demand for new homes has been growing and is still growing. Govt has to respond, and the only response is more and more homes. And it's no good demanding all building should be on brown field sites. As many as possible should be, but it's not going to remotely meet the demand. If the idea is to make the estates, and open spaces and parks look more like gardens, then that is a very good intention. 60 years ago they were built to resemble prison blocks. We have made progress.
These garden villages and cities are not going to impact on me at all. I live in Montgomeryshire, Mid Wales, a most lovely area. No large scale housing developments are mooted here. From one aspect I rather like this. Not surprising since, for a few years, I was president of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. I don't want to see the lovely landscapes of Montgomeryshire spoilt, (something the Welsh Government seems strangely determined to do). But I do think Montgomeryshire should play its part in housing the growing population.
And it's not easy winning permission to build new homes in Montgomeryshire. Sometimes I think the planning authority, Powys Council try to make it as hard as possible for people to build houses. It's so bad that one local architect I know charges much higher fees in Montgomeryshire than anywhere else, simply because of extra costs involved in dealing with the local Council. It's really odd. I do home May's Council Election creates a more permissive approach. No problem getting permission to erect landscape-trashing wind turbines, or build big white factories immediately adjacent to main roads, all at whatever cost to the landscape. But it's a mighty costly obstacle course to secure permission to build a new home. I still would not live anywhere else though. Not even in a new a 'Garden Village'