Garden community proposals 'being used by councils to fund roads infrastructure'

Garden community proposals are being used by councils to finance major road schemes, undermining the government's claims that such communities would support public transport, walking and cycling, according to a report.

Traffic: report says garden communities schemes risk increasing congestion (pic: nikoretro, Flickr)
Traffic: report says garden communities schemes risk increasing congestion (pic: nikoretro, Flickr)

Garden Villages and Garden Towns: Visions and Reality has been published by transport pressure group Transport for New Homes.

The report says that it is based on research "looking at master-plans, visions, infrastructure delivery plans, transport assessments and other documentation put forward by developers and local authorities wanting to progress garden villages and towns".

It adds that its focus was on twenty garden communities, with a further 15 examined "more generally".

The report says that the government's early statements on such communities promoted them as beacons of "integrated and forward-looking transport".

However, it adds that in many instances, this has not been what has been built out or planned.

The report says that a number of garden communities "were in locations chosen in part to finance a new bypass or link road that had been wanted for years".

It adds that the body "found that nearly every garden village came with large-scale investment in strategic and local road capacity to 'mitigate' thousands of new car journeys onto the road network".

This was "counter to the notions of 'self-sufficiency' and 'self-containment'", the report said.

The report says that the twenty garden communities looked at in detail "risk creating up to 200,000 car dependent households", while the other garden villages looked at in less detail "also appear to be following this model of unsustainable transport, even if their visions are often very good".

The report concluded that there is "an enormous gap between the garden community visions presented by government, consultants and local councils, and the developments likely to be built in reality".

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: "Well planned, well-designed, locally-led garden communities will play a vital role in helping meet this country's housing need.

"This is not just about delivering homes – it's about building places that people are happy to call home. We are clear this should include sustainable transport options that support economic prosperity and wellbeing for residents, such as public transport, walking, and cycling.

"Many of these garden communities are in their early stages of development and we are continuing to work with local partners to get the right infrastructure in place to ensure they are great places to live and work."

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