Communities and local government minister uses Guardian article to defend Thames Gateway project against accusations that it will create undesirable new towns.

David Miliband, communities and local government minister, has defended the Thames Gateway project against accusations that it will create soulless and undesirable new towns.

In an article in today’s Guardian, Miliband said: “We don’t just want to build houses – we want to create communities. The Thames Gateway is a fantastic opportunity for us to do so.”

He said that in the new towns, most residents would be “pram-pushing distance” from a series of municipal facilities such as children’s centres, primary schools, GP surgeries and neighbourhood police teams.

Design was also a crucial aspect of the scheme. Miliband said: “Design goes beyond housing, to creating communities – planning out crime, planning in green and public spaces, and ensuring that everyone can play an active part in the community.”

He also used the article to defend the government’s plans for the planning gain supplement. He said that the charge on the increase in land values would “ensure a proportion of this increase goes back to local communities”.

Miliband’s article came as a response to coverage of a study published last week showing that potential residents from all social groups were afraid that the new developments would lack any sense of community and would fail to cater to the specific needs of different groups.

The Institute of Public Policy Research found that high-earners wanted areas with excellent transport links and a strong cultural heritage, but were concerned by the prospect of living in mixed-tenure developments.

It said that all those interviewed “feared that the new homes in the Thames Gateway could be of poor quality, and in neighbourhoods without a sense of place.”

Meanwhile, the report said that those from black and other minority ethnic communities were concerned over the availability of culturally-specific goods and services in the new and expanded towns.