Housing is one of the biggest issues in Britain today, and politicians, geographers, economists, planners and architects have been joining forces to draw up potential solutions to tackle Britain’s need for more houses and cities.
One attempt at this has been the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize, which posed the question:
“How would you deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular?”
After months of deliberation, the judges have awarded this year’s £250,000 prize to David Rudin of urban design company Urbed, who suggested that Norwich, Northampton, Oxford and Rugby were among places which could be expanded into garden cities. Garden cities lie at the centre of planning history, and will become an important feature of the course for Cambridge Land Economists, but should also be of interest to Geographers, Architects, Economists interested in the built environment.
The brainchild of Sir Ebenezer Howard, the Garden City idea began in 1898 when Howard (who founded the Garden City Association, now known as the Town and Country Planning Association ) compiled the ideas of former urban planners to publish his book To-morrow: a Peaceful Path to Real Reform in an attempt to tackle the overcrowding and harsh living conditions of late-nineteenth century Britain. Howard’s idea was based on a cluster of several garden cities as the satellite of a central city, linked by road and rail, combining the best aspects of both the town and countryside.
Now Howard’s central idea has come become vogue, with politicians backing the creation of ‘Garden Cities’ as a means of tackling the housing crisis. The recent announcement of Ebsfleet as a twenty-first century garden city has been met with both praise and heavy criticism. Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians have welcomed the new proposal, while planning experts would argue that the envisaged urban development would be no more than a commuter town, adding little to the real need for house-building and development across the UK.
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