The Landscape Guide

Colour Plans, Green Belts, Green Towns, Greenways, Minerals, Public Open Space, Sustainability, Urban Design, Village Envelopes

Proposal for a Green Towns Act

A Green Towns Act is proposed to replace the dormant New Towns Act (1946). The Green Towns Act would:

  1. Achieve the advantages of Garden Cities and New Towns, while avoiding their drawbacks.
  2. Harness reason and democracy in guiding the selection of land for housing
  3. Improve the design quality of housing estates, business parks and other types of land development
  4. Make new settlements more sustainable, through the use of green plans for transport, vegetation, microclimate, water management and landform management
  5. Enable part of the rise in land values consequent upon a grant of planning permission to be invested in public goods

The UK led the world in making Garden Cities and can do so again with Green Towns.

The Green Towns Act would facilitate public-private partnerships in land development. The provisions could be used for major greenfield sites (eg agricultural land) and major brownfield sites (eg derelict industrial land). Land would pass into public ownership for the planning and design of a green infrastructure. It would then be returned to private ownership. Property would be purchased at twice existing-use value and sold at market value, to finance the infrastructure. This procedure would help to resolve current dilemmas over the selection of land for the 4m new homes which government has identified as necessary. At present the initiative for greenfield development often comes from land owners who hope to cash in when a grant of planning permission increases the value of their land from £3,000/acre to £1m/acre. Under the Green Towns Act, landowners would receive £6,000/acre the remainder of the increase in value would be available for creating the infrastructure for development projects. Far-sighted landscape plans for the location and design of new settlements will allow improvements in land selection, design quality and sustainability.

CONTACT Tom Turner

Discussion paper