PM's garden city plan 'killed off' by Tory grassroots' hostility

Reports that the Prime Minister's plans for a new generation of garden cities have been 'all but killed off' after running into hostility in the Tory heartlands feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Financial Times (subscription only) reports that communities secretary Eric Pickles is understood to have "quietly retreated on the plans because of concerns that the ‘top down’ idea would cost the Conservatives votes in the Home Counties". According to the newspaper, some Liberal Democrats suspect that a £250,000 prize to design a garden city, announced yesterday by Tory peer Lord Wolfson, "is a device to keep the issue on the agenda while avoiding any practical decisions until after the next election".

Writing in this morning’s Guardian, columnist Simon Jenkins says that Lord Wolfson "is only trying to help his developer friends push through volume housebuildng where it would not otherwise be allowed". "The intention is to sanitise as ‘prizewinning’ the urbanisation being sought round Micheldever and Winchester in Hampshire, across north Kent and along the Vale of Severn, and green belt intrusion around northern cities," he writes. Jenkins argues that "fantasising about new cities while existing ones revert to Cinderella status is environmental, economic and social nonsense".

The Times (subscription only) reports that Solihull has been named as the best place to live in Britain. According to the newspaper, a study by uSwitch.com found that Solihull topped a list of 138 areas around the country across 24 different measures of quality of life, including disposable income, life expectancy and sunshine hours.

The Financial Times (subscription only) reports that Canary Wharf’s "lofty office towers are set to be overshadowed by Europe’s tallest residential building in the latest evidence of London’s effervescent housing market". The newspaper says that Irish property investor Tom Ryan intends to build a 74-storey skyscraper on a site he acquired for £100 million yesterday in the business district to the east of the City of London.

Supermarket giant Asda hopes to open more supermarkets in the South East of England and hundreds of standalone "click and collect" locations for shoppers ordering goods on the internet, reports the Times (subscription only). The company said that it had "set its sights on breaking into parts of the UK where its market share is low, but where customer demand is high, with a particular emphasis on London and the South East".

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