But James Brokenshire has not confirmed funding for the scheme

Castle Hill, Ebbsfleet

Housing secretary James Brokenshire has unveiled his department’s new garden communities programme.

The programme, which is part of government’s ambition to build 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s, aims to see more high quality homes built and green spaces created.

Councils across England and private developers who have secured support from local authorities will be able to apply for a place on the programme, with the three month application process beginning yesterday [15 June].

Successful proposals will be revealed in the new year, with the winning bidders set to receive tailored advice and potential grant funding for help with staffing or environmental assessments; part of the planning process for new garden towns.

Brokenshire said: “This plan is about the government working with councils and developers to get great homes in keeping with beautiful areas in England.

“We want to help local authorities build strong and vibrant communities where people want to live, work, and raise families.

“Our garden communities programme already has the potential to provide over 200,000 new homes by 2050, and we want to go further.”

Twenty-three garden communities, including the scheme at Ebbsfleet in Kent which will provide up to 15,000 new homes (pictured), are already receiving funding support.

New garden communities can take the form of new villages, towns or cities and have the potential to deliver well designed homes at an increased scale, with projects ranging in size from 10,000 to 40,000 homes.

The prospectus said priority would be given to garden towns (more than 10,000 homes), but will consider proposals for garden villages (1,500-10,000 homes) which are particularly strong in other ways.

This includes demonstrating exceptional quality or innovations, development on predominantly brownfield sites, being in an area of particularly high housing demand, or showing the ability to expand substantially further in the future.

It also said schemes that could demonstrate how build out will be achieved at pace and had a strong prospect of early delivery would be given priority.

Industry has welcomed the new programme, with Jason Lowes, partner in the planning team at consultant Rapleys, saying: “The doubling-down of focus on garden towns was the natural next step following the publication of the new NPPF.

“The new NPPF implies greater reliance on larger sites, arguably putting less pressure on local authorities to identify smaller sites to meet housing need. At the same time, we saw more detail provided relative to new settlements – of which garden towns are an important component.

“Garden communities, which might include new towns or villages, are key to delivering the quantum of housing that the country needs and should be welcomed in principle. However, they are by their nature a long term solution and only part of the picture.

“Nearer term solutions, such as the expansion of existing cities, towns and villages are also critically important to ensure that people who want to can find new homes close to their families.”

Kate Henderson, chief executive of the Town and Country Planning Association, said: “The Garden Communities prospectus illustrates the government’s commitment to the opportunities provided by creating large-scale, sustainable new communities.

“The prospectus presents an exciting opportunity for councils to think strategically about the most sustainable long-term growth options for their local areas and to come forward with proposals for high-quality new garden communities.

While the prospectus sets out the government’s offer of assistance to councils, including resource funding, advice from Homes England and cross-government brokerage to resolve barriers to delivery the government has not announced a funding package.

Henderson said: “We hope the government will properly invest in this programme over the long-term to enable the creation of places which truly meet the ambitions of the garden city movement.

“The autumn budget is an opportunity for the government to be bold and brave in its commitment to unlocking the delivery of new garden communities and must ensure that the locations which are supported are truly exemplar.”