Coffee House

Will Ebbsfleet lead to a deluge of new garden cities?

18 March 2014

5:52 PM

18 March 2014

5:52 PM

One of the announcements in tomorrow’s Budget that George Osborne has been very keen to trail is his support for a garden city at Ebbsfleet. It’s not a new location, and the project has got many eagle economic eyes fixed on it; I wrote about the ambitions that Labour’s Lord Adonis holds for the area back in February.

But one crucial difference between the Adonis plan and the Osborne plan is that the Chancellor doesn’t see Ebbsfleet as a way of making the case for more garden cities in the future. This New Town or garden city or whatever you fancy calling it is remarkable because it has the support of the two local MPs and the local community, who would rather see brownfield land developed into pleasant, high quality housing than the land staying undeveloped and ugly. Adonis argues that a successful New Town development on this site will help allay the fears of people who oppose large-scale developments elsewhere. The Treasury, though, thinks that this is a unique situation, and sources tell me that they do not anticipate it catalysing other garden city developments elsewhere.

This raises the question of how politicians are going to get enough homes built without antagonising local people further. Number 10 may have the answer in the form of Policy Exchange’s Alex Morton, who recently joined as an adviser, and the Treasury of course has Morton’s old boss Neil O’Brien as an adviser to the Chancellor. Both are interested in a planning system in which local people feel truly consulted and consent to appropriate development that they want. And their think tank has long pushed for garden cities as a solution to the housing crisis. But Policy Exchange, like its founder Nick Boles who is now the planning minister, doesn’t worship the Green Belt as a sacred and pleasant land, pointing out that more of it is ugly scrub or golf clubs than most people realise. Until ministers work out a way of having a proper discussion about that, showcase developments such as Ebbsfleet still won’t make that much of a difference to the overall planning debate.


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Show comments
  • andagain

    The purpose of Ebbsfleet, then, is to allow the Tories to pretend to other people that they will do something about the housing crisis, while allowing the price of their and their friends houses to shoot ever upwards.

    I’m not surprised or shocked anymore. A few years ago I would have been, but not now.

  • rtj1211

    One of the questions people need to have is about whether they are obsessed with a detached house and a small private garden or are OK with housing built more vertically (not cheap 1960s rubbish but super apartments going up with retail/entertainment areas integrated into them) and more space available for gardening, relaxing in green space, playing fields etc etc.

    There’s no right answer, but the more you can build vertically, the more people you can house without create a concrete country.

  • Wessex Man

    Well it’ll certainly lead to Somerset levels of flooding for all the new houses!

    • rtj1211

      Perhaps the developers will use technology used by those who plan successfully against flooding?

      • Alexsandr

        yes they will simply dump the water in watercourses and it becomes someone else’s problem.

        • Wessex Man

          you took the words right out of my mouth!

          • Alexsandr

            and the planners wont care. they just want the business rates/council tax income. if it floods elsewhere, well, not their problem.

  • CHRISTOPHER WHITE

    UNINTENTIONAL IRONY – YALDING KENT TOWN THAT IS AT JUNCTION OF 3 RIVERS WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNATED

    • telemachus

      Yalding is still in our frame

  • Fergus Pickering

    Ebbsfleet is a bit of a dump. If they can improve it then jolly for them. Besides, is you don’t like it you can take the next Eurostar to the Continent.

    • telemachus

      Or take a boat across to sunny Basildon

      • Kitty MLB

        Or the place I believe is called Graves End,
        especially for elderly crusty old sticks, who on earth would give
        anywhere such a name. We used to live in Great Snoring,
        and also Nether Wallop far better names and areas.

    • Wessex Man

      or you could shoot off to oblivion.

      • Kitty MLB

        The place named Graves End sounds like oblivion to me.

        • Wessex Man

          Why should Graves End have to put up with him?

          • Kitty MLB

            Are you speaking of Fergus ?
            He would soon liven up the old coffin dodgers waiting
            for the grim reaper, in the ghastly named Graves End.
            Would add colour to their faces- what colour- I would
            not have the foggiest- and even if I did- not telling anyone.

            • Fergus Pickering

              Gravesend, my dears. Gravesend.

              • Kitty MLB

                I Beseech Thee O wise elder of the South- East
                why Gravesend.
                Also Brighton is full of cannabis smoking greenies and bohemian types, as well as happy Gay people.
                There is also those escapes from crossing Dover.
                Rye and lewes not too bad- Hastings 1066- syndrome!
                Hampshire, and Hampshire Tories quite scary,
                New Forest – fine apart from ponies denting classic cars.
                But Why is that other pace named so-
                I demand to know- is it a case of those who know end up there.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  My younger daughter learned how to paint (pictures not houses) at Brighton. A good place with very nice restaurants.

                • Kitty MLB

                  Good for your daughter, painting is such a beautiful and relaxing accomplishment ( hope she doesn’t like ghastly
                  modern art) Like to try and produce landscape paintings with watercolours. Will try to paint cathedrals at some point, but not good with buildings.
                  I am sure Brighton is very nice, bit concerned that Caroline Lucas comes from that place though.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Burke and Hare came from Edinburgh. The doctor they sold the bodies to was a university professor.

                • Kitty MLB

                  Before going to sleep last night, I googled these two charming fellows you introduced me to, had the most
                  frightful nightmares. I scare quite often:
                  Bodies, witches, Irish people, black cats, gypsies, winter nights, owls etc- also live in a haunted 400 year old cottage.
                  As for this university professor, I know Edinburgh is one of
                  best for studying medicine and research– but
                  grave robbers and murderers– how ghastly !

    • Alexsandr

      Eurostar for the continent, south east trains for the incontinent. :)

      • Fergus Pickering

        A very old joke which you have deprived of point. It runs, ‘Harwich for the Continent; Bournemouth for the incontinent’. You see Bournemouth is full of nursing homes for the senile. By saying that the whole of the South East populated by doddering old fools you remove the point..

        • Alexsandr

          really :)
          mebbe just south east trains customers

  • global city

    post war regional planning helped to strip our cities and led to a generation of massive decline… yep, our civic leaders will go for as many new towns and garden cities as the government will pay for, no matter the cost to their city.

    • rtj1211

      Most garden cities were built before the war.

      The decline was mostly due to loss of Empire and the cost of paying war loan.

      Nothing to do with regional planning.

      • global city

        I know that. The garden cities themselves did not ‘strip the cities’ of population, there were too few of them, but the thinking behind them was part of the attitude toward cities that infected Town and country Planning. The 1947 Act and regional planning tore the heart out of them.

        Loss of population and infrastructure was much more significant than loss of Empire and inability to repair war damage. The old saying that ‘the planners finished the job that the Luftwaffe could not’ is more than a funny but meaningless comment.

  • HookesLaw

    The purpose of Green Belt is to stop urban sprawl. Its generally a good idea but there is no reason why it should be sacrosanct — especially if it means we get proper communitied with propers services that can cope with them.

    • telemachus

      Welcome
      Communitied is a good Socialist word

  • HookesLaw

    What is remarkable is that you think people wanting a sane development is remarkable

    • Wessex Man

      Sane? are you mad? look where it is!

  • david trant

    Witney Garden City powered by gas from its own nearby fracking site: now I like the sound of that.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Ebbsfleet could turn out to be a structured approach we have long been waiting for, the solution to counter the volume housebuilding urban sprawl. Why the nation that invented town and country planning then lost all touch with its roots and now finds itself anxiously observing what the planners of Amsterdam, Paris, Hamburg and Lingang are doing is anyone’s guess. Who runs this nation?

    • Wessex Man

      er, The EU and Yanks.

  • swatnan

    Lets hope so.
    We could do with a few more blooming gardens and a few less bleeding concrete jungles.

    • telemachus

      But please no Milton Keynes roundabouts

  • http://twitter.com/True_Belle True_Belle

    Ebbsfleet, the first floating city in waiting?

    • telemachus

      With Boris’s floating airport close by the property developers will make the usual killing
      *
      George’s friends

      • rtj1211

        Boris’ airport is not going to be floating, if it is built. The Isle of Grain proposal is the only one which has legs. The Island in the North Sea is a dead dodo already.

    • Alexsandr

      yes build a new town in low lying land near the Thames down stream of the barriers. This will be Canvey island waitng to happen when there is a high tide and surge at the same time.

  • Two Bob

    Where exactly? Garden cities = no place in a country this size. This is why ex Tories wont go back.

    • rtj1211

      Well, if you build Boris Airport on the Isle of Grain, you might find a few soon-to-be disused airport sites available at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton etc.

  • Ron Todd

    Why are both parties so keen to spend money in the South East while ignoring the rest of the country.

    • HookesLaw

      Same old same old crass nonsense.
      There have been endless new towns built all over the country. Thre have been endless grants and development angencies for all manner of needy areas all over the country.
      But you stick with your thick ignorant prejudice.

      • rtj1211

        If they are merely commuter towns for London, what’s important is that they are well planned, have good transport links to where people work and have pleasant green spaces for people to relax in.

        Nothing evil, silly or useless about all that.

        Just ensuring that we use land wisely when we decide to build the new houses that are necessary.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Because the South East is where everyone wants to live, friend. It’s much nicer.

      • Wessex Man

        your pompousness is matched only by your idiocy!

        • Kitty MLB

          I am trying to improve my insults before the election,
          been a little tame as late ( especially in this place- on my
          best behaviour still)
          How does this sound :
          You have a truly impressive capacity for desultory inanity?
          Shall have to find a person to use it on now, just so
          many to chose from.

          • rtj1211

            Try this one: ‘it’s a shame you’re so thin and good looking, because otherwise I might have to call you a fat, ugly c**t in public!’

          • Wessex Man

            you see Kitty what have now encouraged below.

            • Kitty MLB

              Yes, I encouraged that, what ever it was, shall be more careful
              in future 😉

        • Fergus Pickering

          Pompous? Me? No, my dear, you are thinking of someone else entirely. It’s probably because you ive in somewhere dreadful like Halifax.

          • rtj1211

            There are plenty of truly appalling holes, dumps, no-go areas, call them what you will, in London, friend.

            If you have the money to live somewhere nice in London, you have the money to live somewhere truly wonderful in Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Oxfordshire, Sussex, Hampshire or Herefordshire.

          • Kitty MLB

            Why on earth would someone want to live in a Building Society-
            not enough room to swing a cat let alone build a garden city.

          • Alexsandr

            any sane person would prefer Halifax to Wembley, surely?

          • Wessex Man

            live in Halifax? with a name like Wessex Man, you truly are a one off, so just off.

      • rtj1211

        Actually, it’s only the weather that is nicer in the SE.

        I’ve lived in Scotland, Manchester, Leeds, Cambridge, Oxford, Reading, Devon and London and the commuting is worse in London, the quality of housing outside the super-rich is worse in London and the friendliness of people in London is worse.

        I’ve seen doctors who trained in London and bought 3 bed semis relocate to Yorkshire upon being appointed as consultants and buying 6 bed double-fronted town houses in Yorkshire.

        If you’re obsessed with art galleries, museums, having 500 theatres and 5000 restaurants, then maybe London’s your place.

        If you want outdoor living more sophisticated than a golf course or a canal path, try living in driving distance of Snowdonia, the Lake District, the Peak District.

        It’s usually insular Londoners who never worked anywhere else who denigrate the rest of the country. They’re often deeply malignant control freaks too.

        Those who truly like London have no need to denigrate.

        Those who are control freaks have a great need to do so.

        • Kitty MLB

          A lot of the rural areas you mentioned are dependant on owing a car- Before learning to drive I lived in the very rural and ancient Minchinhampton, Gloucestershire ( the Cotswolds.)
          We also lived on the North Norfolk coast- not such an issue,
          could drive at that point, and a good train service.
          Shropshire is also delightful.
          ‘ If you are obsessed with art galleries, museums and having
          500 theatres’— Then bohemian and historic Bath is for you,
          as well as Stratford upon Avon.

        • Fergus Pickering

          London is not the South East, my dear chap. I rarely go to London. Though it is probably the finest city in the world I’m not a one for cities. Have you never heard tell of Sussex. Of the Weald of Kent?

      • Wessex Man

        not when they find out you live there!

  • Samuel Kaine Wheeler

    Build baby build.

    • telemachus

      But organise a not for profit co-operative builder to do the job

      • William Haworth

        As many of the builders will be from out of the UK (like for the Olympics), maybe we could make Ebbsfleet part of the International Aid budget.

      • Wessex Man

        but if it’s a co-operative who’s going to pay the tax and NI to keep you in the style you’ve become accustomed to?

        • rtj1211

          The people who live in the homes which are cheaper will have more money to spend on other things so will pay sales tax or contribute to increased profits of the companies whose products/service they purchase/consume.

          • Wessex Man

            so you quite happy to keep telemachus in all his guises in the style to which he has become accustomed?

  • LarryH77

    “Policy Exchange’s Alex Morton, who recently joined as an adviser”

    Fierce critic of Help-To-Buy clearly has no leverage and already relegated to tea making duties since HTB is the only game in town until 2020.

    It’s government’s job to make the case for development, seeing as housing is just as important infrastructure as HS2. Ridiculous that a few thousand Tory voters in a few marginal seats can hold national policy to ransom.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Ridiculous that a few hundred scheming communists can suborn the national interest to party policy in order to put a nation at risk. Can unleash a tidal wave of unprecedented immigration on a country without the consent of its people and then try to muzzle their objections with coercive legislation.

      • Mynydd

        List, say ten, scheming communists who are putting the country at risk. By the way it was the Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath who signed the Treaty of Rome followed by the Conservative Prime Minister, Mrs Margaret Thatcher who signed up to the Single Market, which paved the way to unleashed a tidal wave of unprecedented immigration on this country through coercive legislation.

        • HookesLaw

          Labour had the opportunity to take advantavge of a long period of adjustment before taking in workers from the accession countries in 2004. It did not. So you are talking a load of bunkum

          Assuming we were not in the EU like Norway and were still part of the single market then free movenent of Labour would still apply.

          • Wessex Man

            If we say no what are they going to do INVADE?

          • Alexsandr

            big assumption there, hookey.

        • Colonel Mustard

          “List, say ten, scheming communists who are putting the country at risk.”

          There are far more than that. Fill your boots:-

          http://www.cpexposed.com/document-category/cp-graduate-lists

          PS the old lefty tactic of deflecting any blame on to Thatcher is getting tired now. 1997-2010 cannot be airbrushed out by Son of Communist and his Brownian gang.

        • Wessex Man

          There’s no argument with that but as I can see below good old Hooky will!

      • BarkingAtTreehuggers

        What waffle…
        Communists (!)… commonetarists…communerationists, a remunerationist con. You will kid us not, not the kids.

        • Colonel Mustard

          Communitarians, progressives, the list goes on. The imperative remains the same as does the destination.

          • telemachus

            Too much High Sheriff activity
            *
            I am out of here

            • Wessex Man

              thank the lord, if only I had known that was all it took!

        • Wessex Man

          go and chew a tree.

      • LarryH77

        The population would have to quadruple overnight just to use up the Green Belt, and then 75% of the country would still be man-made fields/hedgerows.

        • Colonel Mustard

          But not nice to live in. As are many parts already. Don’t be stupid – or is it clever? Think population density, infrastructure, logistics, sectarian violence.

        • Alexsandr

          and of course when you build you make flooding worse. Have we forgotten the floods of Jan and feb 2014 already?

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