The Royal Blog: growing villages, new settlements, and the third way

Princess Anne’s speech on housing yesterday seems to have united the Home Builders Federation (HBF) and CPRE. Royalty can do that sort of thing.   

The Princess is quoted in today’s Telegraph as asking: “Is it really necessary to only think in terms of large scale developments?… Maybe it isn’t such good value if you have to build in the facilities that need to go with it. You will need a new school, you will need new shops, you will need to create a community centre, but for many of the small scale developments you already have those.”

Building in existing villages, she said, was cheaper and would also help villages survive and keep their shops, pubs and schools. 

The HBF has welcomed Princess Anne’s words, even though they explicitly pose an alternative to the sort of large-scale developments its members favour. In response I said: “We want a living countryside, not a countryside of commuter villages or retirement ghettos. The important thing is that villages should grow organically, with the consent of those who live there, and that priority is given to creating genuinely affordable homes for people with strong employment or family ties to the area. The way to do this is, wherever possible, is to have a community-led process which identifies suitable sites for inclusion in local and neighbourhood plans. With this in place, development is more likely to be well-located and high quality, and therefore win local support.”

So far, so consensual. But it is worth saying that there is, to coin a phrase, a third way between the growth of villages and new settlements: urban regeneration.  There is still a good deal of urban land lying idle – plenty in the south east, even more in parts of the country we seem to have lost hope in. 

CPRE’s Policy Committee had an interesting discussion last week on Labour’s Lyons Review. Chris Brown from Igloo Regeneration spoke alongside the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) Hugh Ellis. Chris’s subsequent blog is well worth reading. It promotes the TCPA’s idea of Community Development Corporations – but as a means of unlocking development on urban land. In terms of the scale of development that most people accept we need, the best value for society, if not for the volume house builders, will come from brownfield development within towns and cities, together with some well-planned urban extensions.   

 

                      

4 Responses to “The Royal Blog: growing villages, new settlements, and the third way”


  1. 1 Arthur Franks February 22, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    It is fine saying develop villages if there is room. So many villages have full schools poor infrastructure that was put in years ago and is now not big enough. Also there are no jobs so the village becomes a dormitory village for the nearest big urban area, Children grow up in the village have to leave to find work, the population becomes elderly and the village society declines. Look at urban development first

  2. 2 Michael Monk February 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Yes – growing existing villages can look a tempting option to keep their vitality and services – but beware what you wish for! We have seen this approach in Cambridgeshire in the past, with village growth not organic but with large speculative estates out of scale with the village – and yet, even so, these villages have still lost their services and facilities, with the result that there are simply more people living unsustainable lives divorced from local services which in turn means getting in the car and driving to them….causing huge increases in traffic on rural roads to the detriment of rural tranquillity.

  3. 4 Katy Lane February 24, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Well said Michael, where I live we have a huge amount of development in the pipeline but NO extra facilities. No new schools (local MP said they could expand current school into it’s playing fields..What?!!) no new hospital (could open a new Doctors surgery but it looks like NHS cuts may scupper that), no more fire stations, no more ambulances, no more buses, no more industrial sites, nothing. We will become (oh, making local rail station bigger though) just another dormitory town with no green fields, no jobs and HUNDREDS more cars filling up single track roads that cut off corners to B roads (nearest dual carriageway some distance). This free for all will destroy any semblance of ‘rural’ anything if we let it. This isn’t planning ahead, it’s not ‘planning’ anything.


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