Lord Best, who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on housing and care for older people, recently called for 50 new garden villages to be built to solve Britain’s housing crisis.
This would definitely have a positive impact on the supply of good-quality homes across the country. In fact, it could create up to 120,000 new homes, based on the numbers the government has projected for its own existing plans to create 14 new garden villages. But without the right support and management new communities, and the infrastructure they need to flourish, can struggle to bed in.
Bournville in Birmingham, where I’ve worked for the past 16 years, has been credited with laying the foundations for latter-day garden cities and has been going strong for 117 years. Today it’s home to more than 25,000 people and in 2003 was found to be one of the nicest places to live in Britain in a study by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
As the government ploughs ahead with its plans for new garden villages from Devon to Derbyshire, here are five things I’ve learned from helping to manage the country’s first garden village:
1: Have rules about alterations and stick to them
When a new development is built, homes will feature certain characteristics that help to create its unique street scene. Over time this will change as extensions, porches and driveways of varying shapes, sizes and styles are added, wheelie bins are introduced and front gardens become unloved.
As a result, features that set the development apart in the first place are lost and, in turn, the identity of a community can be eroded. While it can be contentious at times, having firm rules in place with legal covenants behind them on what residents can and can’t change about their homes and surroundings helps to protect the integrity of a village.
It’s vital to ensure residents are aware of these rules, which must be monitored and action taken against those who break them.
2: Don’t leave open spaces and…