Saturday 7 June 2014

Mayfields vision of a garden city in Sussex misses the mark

Below I reprint an article from Jane Simmons, of LAMBS, which looks at a vision for a garden city which seems to be the sort of thing planned by the developers for the east of Henfield.

Mayfield Market Towns' ‘vision’ for a Garden City in Sussex has failed to make today’s shortlist for the much publicised Wolfson Prize.

The prize was created by the Conservative Peer, Lord Simon Wolfson, as an incentive to find the best way to deliver 'a new Garden City which is visionary, economically viable and popular’. 

Mayfield Director, Peter Freeman entered the competition in March, with an 83 page document championing a Garden City of 10,000 homes on 1,000 acres of land. His model is notably short of the Government’s published ideal "which is locally-led, includes at least 15,000 homes and has the backing of existing residents". 

His submission, titled ‘A Shared Vision’ does not mention Mayfield Market Towns by name, but refers to a location about 50 miles from London where, Mr Freeman says, he is “confident” of success:

“We are at the early stages of promoting a Garden City in a location about 50 miles from London. In due course, we are confident that we will succeed because of the underlying need arguments and the advantages of a comprehensive, planned Garden City over many add-on schemes.
“However, in the short term, Councillors are unwilling to engage, given their interpretation of the Localism Act as releasing them from an obligation to meet need. It would be more fruitful for all stakeholders, local residents, future residents, businesses and the Council if we could be building a shared vision at an early stage. We hope that the Wolfson Prize will help all stakeholders see the merits of Garden Cities as a solution to the Housing Crisis.”
And, in contrast to the much feted Localism Act, Mr Freeman goes on to imply that Garden Cities should be Nationally led:
“We see this as a National challenge, requiring some form of Government action,” he says “– just as the investments following the post-war New Towns programme was part of a national effort.”
Amongst the many pages of financial and economic predictions, Mr Freeman also touches on the subject of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) and monetary compensation for local residents. The solution, he says, is to offer;
“A simple, modest compensation to ordinary residents who feel their lives have been adversely affected… even though the new amenities and extra demand from new residents may increase the value of their homes.”
And on the subject of Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPO), he states that;
“The existing owner should receive as a minimum the full value (excluding any hope value) prior to the permitted change of use of any land acquired by CPO or threat of CPO.”
Despite the length of Mr Freeman’s submission, the vast swathes of countryside which would be affected by this development are mentioned only briefly, in a paragraph just twelve lines long:
“The countryside,” says Mr Freeman, “makes a vital contribution to Britain’s heritage, leisure, health, food production, tourism, ecology and overall sense of well-being”.
Mr Freeman’s current position as Director of Mayfield Market Towns is omitted from the report.
The Wolfson competition judges shortlisted five entries – the overall winner will receive £250,000. Mr Freeman’s submission failed to reach the shortlist but won a £1,000 commendation for his ‘wide range of ideas on securing popularity’.
Peter Freeman’s full report can be seen here.

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