Charity calls for new UK garden cities to remain affordable

Homes in existing and proposed garden cities in the UK should be exempt from the proposed extension of the Right to Buy scheme, it is claimed.

According to the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA), a housing and planning charity, this would ensure that garden cities remain socially mixed and affordable places to live.

‘Garden cities built today must have a primary focus on providing homes for everyone in society and in particular those most in need in the current housing crisis,’ Kate Henderson, TCPA chief executive told the charity’s Planning Research Convention.

‘That means that garden cities must include genuinely affordable housing for essential low paid workers whose employment underpins an economy on which we all depend. Garden Cities must also deliver intermediate forms of tenure for people on average incomes trying to get onto the housing ladder,’ she added.

The extension of the Right to Buy to housing association tenants, a measure proposed in the forthcoming Housing Bill, has potentially significant implications for the housing offer in both existing and new garden cities according to the TCPA.
‘While the implication of the proposed extension to the Right to Buy in garden cities is not yet known, if there is a genuine commitment to new garden cities by Government then they will have to include a mix of housing types and tenures, as well as providing social and affordable housing in perpetuity,’ Henderson explained.

‘That is why we are calling on Government to provide clarity about whether existing and proposed new garden cities can be exempt from the extension of the Right to Buy,’ she added.

She pointed out that in Letchworth Garden City today around 30% of homes are socially rented which is part of the town's success. ‘We believe there is a strong case for existing and new garden cities to be exempt from the proposed extension of the Right to Buy to ensure they are, and in the case of Letchworth remain , vibrant, socially mixed and affordable places to live,’ Henderson concluded.

This autumn the TCPA will produce a series of guides designed to provide more detailed information and best practice examples to support those engaged in delivering visionary new garden cities. The guides are intended to be an important resource for a wide range of public and private sector practitioners engaged in the creation of new communities.