Could Garden Communities Solve the UK’s Housing Problems?

Garden cities have become extremely popular options among potential homebuyers, as they’re being looked at as a solution to help Britain’s housing crisis. But what makes garden communities so coveted these days?

They’re in the news because the government has given the green light for the construction of 14 new garden villages located anyone from Lancashire to Cornwall, each with 1,500 to 10,000 homes, and three garden towns in southern England which will see the construction of over 10,000 homes each.

“Locally led garden towns and villages have enormous potential to deliver the homes that communities need, as well as a big boost to local economies,” said Housing Minister Gavin Barwell.

Behind the government’s new initiative is historical evidence that suggests living in garden communities is a popular choice and buyers are willing to pay a premium for the privilege of living in them.

For example, Welwyn and Letchworth are both near London, and already have a high number of garden cities. These are both very appealing areas to commuters and are seeing more and more developments proposed year-on-year. Welwyn is just 30 minutes from King’s Cross by train, as is Letchworth.

Today, according to WH Times, a house in Welwyn Garden City can go as high as £680,000. In Letchworth, the average is approximately £370,000.

However, not all garden communities are expensive as London house prices. For example, Hertfordshire and many other green cities in rural areas are closer to what Sir Ebenezer Howard had first imagined these self-sustaining communities when he coined the phrase ‘garden towns’ in 1898.

Apart from Hertfordshire, the Moor Pool Garden in Birmingham, which was built in the early 1900s, provides affordable housing options for people. Moor Pool Garden has a fishing pond, bowling lane, and areas where people can grow their crops.

Garden cities are self-sustaining communities surrounded by “greenbelts” containing proportionate areas of residents, industrial units, and agriculture. These garden communities promote stability, green living, and organic food that anyone is free to harvest. The aforementioned features make garden cities very appealing especially to people looking to settle down upon retiring from work. Among the communities it’s not uncommon to see allotments where residents plant their own vegetables. These allotments are renowned for their array of Shire Kniver and Sherwood log cabins, which according to the specifications on Screwfix are spacious enough to turn into either a fully functioning shed or a comfortable area for the retired to lounge about on sunny days after a day of gardening. All in all, these log cabin/shed hybrids encompass what garden cities are all about: sustainability and promoting agriculture no matter how small.

Aside from the serenity that living within greenbelts provides residents, what really makes garden cities attractive to people are the vision that many of these developers convey to potential residents. Away from the bustling streets of London is London Paramount, which is an entertainment resort-of-sorts that is set to include a theme park and West End-quality-theatres. If permission is granted for its construction, it will be built in the Swanscombe Marshes.

“If Paramount goes ahead, I understand Crossrail might be stretched to Gravesend, connecting Ebbsfleet to the Crossrail system,” says Joe Purton, a manager for the Robinson Jackson estate agents based in Swanscombe. “There will be loads of jobs if Paramount goes ahead.”

Whether or not garden cities will solve the UK housing problem remains to be seen. However, what’s certain is that more and more people are getting attracted to what these unorthodox cities can offer residents.


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