Bringing the garden village vision to life

Fifty-one expressions of interest were submitted following the Department for Community and Local Government’s call for garden village proposals earlier in 2016. The huge response from local authorities has even led to the Government announcing an additional £1million in financial support for the initiatives.

With so many expressions of interest and with these proposals now firmly in the public domain, there has been a growing ‘buzz’ around the prospect of many new garden villages being developed in the UK.

Yet, as we await the Government’s decision on which expressions of interest to pursue further, it’s important to acknowledge and learn from garden villages that are being developed here and now; a small number of garden villages across the UK are already welcoming new residents and are well on the way to establishing sustainable communities.

Garden villages – a reality, not just a good idea

At Preim we provide community developments and placemaking services to a number of garden villages across the UK – putting us in a great position to see the successes that we believe developments and garden villages of the future can learn from.

Garden villages are very much in the here and now. They’re rapidly transforming the way many developers approach housebuilding in the UK. Leading the way is Crest Nicholson with developments that Preim are proud to be a part of.

Tadpole Garden Village and Arborfield Green: two ‘Preim’ examples

In June 2016, David Cameron visited Tadpole Garden Village, a Crest Nicholson garden village in Wiltshire. The garden village welcomed its first residents early in 2015 and has since found its feet as a thriving community.

Cameron visited Tadpole Garden Village to explore the sustainable community, with reports remarking: “Tadpole Garden Village is one of the only developments in the UK which will be delivered on the basis of Garden Village principles.” It’s a great example, not to mention award-winning example, of how community really does thrive within the garden village model, and it’s a development Preim is proud to work with Crest Nicholson on.

tadpole-garden-village-preim

As an example of the work we do with Crest Nicholson, Preim recently placed a new community mobiliser, Chris Tanner, at Tadpole Garden Village with the mission, as Chris explains it himself, as:

“[Helping] to establish a new community. With a big development like Tadpole Garden Village there is also a responsibility in ensuring there’s a stake in the ground for the community in the local area – we want the development to be recognised locally and blend with other communities too.”

Thanks to the work of Chris and the Community Interest Company (CIC), the garden village will enjoy a whole host of community events year round, with the last few months of 2016 seeing Wiltshire Wildlife Trust planting days, launch of a new Stagecoach bus route, Christmas shopping evenings, pre-Christmas drinks and carol services for residents.

Another example of the garden village vision being made a reality, Arborfield Green, is a major regeneration development at the former Arborfield Garrison site in Berkshire. With 2,000 homes planned, Crest Nicholson will be responsible for delivering the Arborfield Green vision over the next 12 to 15 years on behalf of the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO). Residents are to be welcomed to Arborfield Green soon, after home sales began in June 2016.

Again, working with Crest Nicholson, Preim are helping to create a community that residents can be proud of at Arborfield Green, recently having appointed a new community mobiliser, Rebecca Eytle, for the development.

The garden village principles

Both the Tadpole Garden Village and Arborfield Green developments show Crest Nicholson’s dedication to the garden village ethos – and also act as examples to local authorities, communities and future developers of how garden villages really can work, creating sustainable communities where people want to the live, work and thrive.

A garden village ethos can also be read in the Policy Exchange publication Garden Villages: Empowering localism to solve the Housing Crisis, but in summary garden villages are based upon:

  • Sustainability, including the infrastructure necessary for education, employment, transport and more.
  • Engaged communities encouraging pride in the garden village.
  • A long-term management structure that leaves a legacy at the development and gives residents a say in what happens to their community.
  • Green space and homes that buyers don’t just need, but want.

You can read more about how Tadpole Garden Village, specifically, embraces the garden village ethos in this Housebuilder and Developer case study.

Working with Preim to create communities

A recent survey conducted by the Policy Exchange asked 128 local authority members and officials for their opinion on the garden village model. The Policy Exchange revealed the results here, but a couple of headlines included:

  • 62 per cent of respondents said they would either strongly support or support the idea of creating a new garden village in their local authority area, to help meet housing need.
  • 69 per cent said that having the option to create a garden village would be very helpful or helpful in contributing to delivering their housing growth needs.
  • 51 per cent of respondents saying garden villages are either very realistic or realistic propositions for delivering housing growth.

So, encouragingly, there seems to be at least the support for garden villages and the 51 expressions of interest suggest that there is also the intent to make more garden villages a reality.

The likes of Tadpole Garden Village and Arborfield Green will provide great examples of successful communities for local authorities aspiring to the garden village model to solve their housing needs. These examples show just how central placemaking and community initiatives will need to be at any new garden village developments.

As we await the Government’s feedback on the expressions of interest, find out more about how Preim can help developers build communities here.