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Garden Cities downgraded to Garden Villages

Today's budget contained a lot of new proposals, and a few familiar faces returning to the policy agenda.

The proposal for the development of 'garden villages' is intended to encourage councils to build small settlements on the outskirts of existing towns. 

If this seems familiar, it is. The initiative appears to be a scaled down version of the Garden Cities programme launched in the last parliament, which has struggled to get off the ground. 

Urban extensions (building on the edge of existing settlements) are already well established as a way to increase housing numbers. As such it will be interesting to  see whether the announced consultation will add anything new, or whether it is simply a reiteration of the government's commitment to boosting housing delivery in the UK.   

The new “garden suburbs” programme will see councils offered incentives to build new settlements – which can number anywhere between “a few hundred” homes to as many as 5,000, Whitehall sources said.

There are fears that any plans to extend towns could be framed as a return to the “war on the countryside”, which was repeatedly levelled at the Tories during the coalition years.

Sources insisted that Green Belt protections will remain in place and that all new settlements will be “locally led”, meaning that they cannot be imposed on communities.

The Government has said that it wants to see one million new homes by 2020. ”