Urbed’s David Rudlin hits out at councils’ response to his winning idea

The winner of last year’s Wolfson Economics Prize has said that planned garden city extensions are not being taken up because councils are worried they won’t work.

David Rudlin of urban design and research consultancy Urbed won the £250,000 first prize with his submission which argued for the near-doubling of up to 40 existing large towns, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford, to provide new homes for 150,000 people per town, built over 30-35 years.

His entry imagined a fictional town called Uxcester to develop the concept and says that expansion of existing towns is the best way to accommodate growth, regenerate town centres and protect countryside and the setting of surrounding villages.

But in a letter to the Evening Standard last week, Rudlin said that his winning idea keeps hitting council buffers. “We have discussed these issues with politicians and planners. The most common response is that our concepts made sense but were impossible in their locality.

“This impasse is what we need to overcome; we will only do so by raising confidence in the quality of what we build rather than just relaxing green belt policy.”

Last week, think tank, the Adam Smith Institute, said that London’s housing crisis could be solved by allowing the construction of one million new homes in the 3.7 per cent of the green belt within walking distance of a railway station.

It said that England’s planning system needs radical reform to allow for two and a half million new homes to be built and would take up less than 0.5 per cent of the landmass of England.

But the Greens’ Darren Johnson, the chair of the London Assembly’s housing committee, said building on the green belt should be resisted. “It would be just smothered with more luxury flats and executive homes, built slowly by big developers to avoid falling prices and marketed to rich buy-to-let investors.”