Expert masterplanner reacts to UK garden cities shortlist

The chosen finalists for the Wolfson Prize for Economics, which called for innovative proposals for the creation of Garden Cities, have been announced – with finalists now expected to work up detailed submissions before the winner is announced in September.

The prize has been running in near parallel with the Government’s own prospectus, which it published in April , to invite bids from councils to develop new garden cities – which must include at least 15,000 homes, be locally-led and have the backing of existing residents.

Jeff Nottage, Director of Masterplanning at global architecture, urbanism and design practice Broadway Malyan, said:

“The proposals which now need to be developed in detail must deliver a model of the garden city that’s fit for the 21st century and speeds up the delivery of contemporary new housing – this shouldn’t be about rolling fields, landscaped avenues, tree-lined boulevards, white picket fences and ha-ha.

“We need detailed hybrid models of garden cities, ones that are faithful to the original idea but with their own integrity and point of difference to run-of-the-mill urban development – for example, including pocket gardens, winter-gardens and with balconies and amenity – which are at least compliant with the London Housing Design Guide.

“In the absence of a development corporation to help acquire land or a garden city budget from Government to deliver infrastructure it will be extremely challenging to demonstrate the viability of detailed proposals.

“The density of detailed proposals will dictate financial viability and there’ll be a delicate balance between the quality of design and place agenda and commercial imperatives – otherwise there is a risk that the whole concept of the garden city falls over.”