Five new garden towns to be built along Oxford to Cambridge route
In a bid to help solve the UK’s housing crisis, housing secretary Sajid Javid has announced that up to five new garden towns will be approved on the Oxford to Cambridge corridor, with the first two getting the go-ahead in the coming weeks.
The proposed garden towns were outlined in last year’s Autumn Budget, and it is expected that they will create thousands of modern, energy-efficient homes, many of which will be made more affordable compared to surrounding areas. The area between the two university cities, which borders London, has been deemed a region of high demand, and the major new development will contribute towards reducing the housing shortage without having to build on greenbelt land.
Infrastructure in the area will also see huge improvements, after a new high-speed rail line and car “expressway” connecting Oxford and Cambridge received funding approval, which is expected to almost halve journey times between the two cities.
The plans could see the existing towns of Bedford and Bicester, which sit along the corridor, being expanded and transformed into garden cities, and the total development scheme could create as many as one million new homes by 2050.
A breakdown of the proposals
The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) has released a report setting out six broad areas of change, which are: expanding Milton Keynes to reach a population of more than 500,000; development to create a population in the hundreds of thousands between Milton Keynes and Bicester; growth around the railway in the Marston Vale area between Bedford and Milton Keynes; added railway infrastructure to support the expansion of Bedford; development of a large town in the Sandy area; a new garden town to the west of Cambridge.
Sajid Javid said: “We have a housing crisis in this country. Average house prices in England are eight times average earnings. In London, where we have the most acute shortage, it is 15 times average earnings. That’s not just the worst we have had in England, it’s the worst of any major developed economy.”
A new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is expected to be revealed by the housing secretary next week, which will see minimum house-building levels imposed on councils – and the government will be able to step in and make construction decisions if councils aren’t building enough homes.
Javid added: “The new rules will no longer allow nimby councils that don’t really want to build the homes that their local community needs to fudge the numbers.”
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