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New Towns Act 2015?

Download 'New Towns Act 2015?'

In February 2014 the TCPA published a landmark document into how the UK can deliver the beautiful, inclusive and sustainable communities of the future. The report, New Towns Act 2015?’, has taken the phenomenally successful New Town Development Corporation model, that delivered 32 new towns after the Second World War and which now home over 2 million people, and updated it for the 21st Century.

The TCPA wants to show how the development corporation model can be updated to make it more democratically accountable and ensure that the vision of high quality, beautiful and inclusive places is achieved. The trick will be to take the world famous and successful garden city principles, which created places like Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City, and place them at the heart of the staggeringly successful development corporation delivery model.

While there is inevitably a degree of complexity surrounding the law which underpins the delivery of new communities, the key messages of this document are clear:

  • New settlements are a vital component of our response to the housing crisis, allowing for cost-effective and sustainable growth.
  • The New Towns Act offers a powerful foundation for the delivery of the kinds of high-quality inclusive places that will meet our housing needs in the long term.
  • This foundation is based on a specific approach to the designation of land and the creation of New Town Development Corporations to drive effective delivery.
  • The basic architecture of the New Towns legislation remains in force and could, in principle, be used tomorrow.

However, this document also concludes that the current legislation is in need of modernisation to ensure that Development Corporations have the visionary purpose and obligations to balance their extensive powers. These changes would include:

  • the creation of transparent legal objectives for Development Corporations, including sustainable development, climate change and social inclusion;
  • enhanced requirements for participation by the public in the design and delivery of the New Town;
  • ensuring partnership working with the established local authorities in the area in which the New Town is located; and ensuring the timely handover of the New Town’s assets (i.e. land, property, finance) to the local authorities and to other successor bodies to hold and manage those assets in perpetuity for the benefit of the community.

In addition to the modernisation of the law, the development of New Towns would require important policy support and a detailed financial model, both of which the TCPA is currently developing. Significant policy challenges remain, primarily around the balance between centrally designated New Town sites and local consensus.

This report has been kindly supported by the Lady Margaret Paterson Osborn Trust and Dentons.

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