Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Garden Villages: More from across the pond
I recently wrote about several progressive transportation initiatives being taken by the Conservative – I repeat, Conservative - government in the UK (here).
One initiative I didn’t mention (it’s not strictly transportation) is a new round of garden towns and garden villages that are being advanced as a way to ease a housing shortage. These new developments, which are descendants of the century-old garden city movement, are supposed to be more or less freestanding and self-sufficient rather than add-on or infill. In theory, at least, they will be environmentally friendly, with lots of green spaces.
The garden “villages” are smaller-scale than garden “towns” and can fit into smaller footprints. To get an idea of what they have in mind, take a look at Dissington Garden Village in Northumberland (news story here, concept plan here). This particular development hasn’t gotten planning approval yet, but it showcases some of the features that an ideal garden village should have: walkable/bikeable layout, community facilities, retail shops, employment opportunities (ratio of one job per household), range of housing options built to high environmental standards, internal and external green spaces, and high-quality infrastructure, including fast broadband.
Many of these garden village plans, including Dissington, have attracted local opposition for various reasons (Dissington takes a bite out of a preserved green belt), and each should of course be reviewed on its own merits. And I understand that the British planning and regulatory regime is much different than that in the US. But really, we should be doing a much better job of rural planning than we do in this country. Contrast the garden village concept with the sprawl development that is still so prevalent here. I think there is much to learn from watching Dissington and its cousins.