Home / Blogs / When is a start, not enough?

When is a start, not enough?

Come Into the garden, Maud,

For the black bat, night, has flown;

Come into the garden, Maud,

I am here at the gate alone;

The first garden villages have been given government backing. Hurrah! These villages have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England. Double Hurrah! 

14 new garden villages – from Devon to Derbyshire, Cornwall to Cumbria – will have access to a £6 million fund over the next two financial years to support the delivery of these new projects. Triple Hurrah!

In a move designed to counter accusations of building rough-shod over the green-belt, the garden village scheme is a smaller-scale version of the garden towns/garden cities programme. The mini-me version is for developments of “between 1,500 and 10,000 homes “. Now 10,000 homes doesn’t sound very “villagey” to me, rather more like a “town”, but there you go.

They are also, it turns out, also funding three new garden towns – which is what you get when you build more than the 10,000 homes in one place.

The good thing is that the Government has listened to all the experts and is definitely, definitely, this time, going to do something to solve the housing crisis.

So, with the villages and the towns, we could see as many as 200,000 new homes across the country. Quadruple Hurrah!  

Except – maybe hold back on those hurrahs a wee bit. 200,000 homes is still way, way short of what we need. It is, in fact, what we need to be building every year, if we are to make sure that our current population has somewhere to live, let alone our children and grandchildren.

Housing and planning minister Gavin Barwell said: “Locally-led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need. By 2020, more than 25,000 housing starts are expected in garden villages, towns and cities supported by the government.”

Yes, yes, that’s all very well. But 25,000 housing starts by 2020 just isn’t enough. Not nearly enough.

And while one could says that it’s not enough, but it’s a start, I’m afraid I’m getting rather bored of that line. We’ve had ‘it’s a good start but not enough’ too many times over the past nine years.

There’s also the question of location. Garden villages imply something of a rural idyll. And the trouble with modern day rural idylls is that they tend not to be ideal for everyone. The widespread, long-term disappearance of infrastructure – schools, bus services, pubs, post-offices, shops – from our villages and smaller towns means that, for some, a “garden” location, just isn’t practical.

What we need, as well as newer communities like the garden villages, is for a clncrted effort to go into building long-term sustainable communities in our existing towns and cities. In places where there are jobs, schools, hospitals, bus services, shops. This Government is very fond of its “hardworking families” but everyone, at all stages of their lives, deserves to have somewhere to live, somewhere they are really live, rather than just exist.

I’ve had enough of Not Enough. Time to really get  motoring on this.


About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

Check Also

Celebrate good times, Come on

If an earthquake were to engulf England tomorrow, the English would meet and dine, somewhere …