Garden Villages and Garden Towns: Visions and Reality

Front cover of our Garden Communities reportFrom Kent to Carlisle, the Government wants to build more than 50 Garden Villages and Garden Towns to help tackle the country’s housing supply crisis.

Garden Communities are envisaged as sociable, green communities, each with a centre that is easily walked to and a transport system built for sustainability.

Our new report, Garden Villages and Garden Towns: Visions and Reality, found that the reality threatens to be very different.

Car-dominated housing
Housing in Bicester: do these people live on a path, a road or a car park? Whatever it is, it is dominated by the car.

Transport for New Homes examined plans for 20 Garden Communities in detail, as well as the funding and policy landscape behind them, and found that – in their current form – they will generate high levels of traffic by condemning their residents to car-dependent lifestyles.

Most are planned in the wrong locations, far from town centres and rail stations. They lack local facilities and their streets are designed around car use. Funding for walking, cycling and public transport is missing.

Housing with little pavement
Housing in Aylesbury, with narrow pavements that end abruptly and – despite being so narrow – have cars parked on them.
  • Just the 20 Garden Communities that we looked at will create up to 200,000 car-dependent households
  • Non-driving residents will have to walk up to seven miles to access the nearest town centre or a railway station

Unless this picture improves, Garden Communities will be completely at odds with the visions presented, worsening climate change and failing their residents.

Sustainable transport is vital to tackling the climate crisis. Walking and cycling in particular have come to prominence during the health crisis, as have the benefits of living more locally. But the housing that we are planning threatens to take us in the opposite direction, locking us into car-dependent lifestyles for decades to come.”
– Transport for New Homes

Do you think new housing should be more sustainably connected?

If you agree that new housing should be located and designed to ensure that people can walk, cycle and use public transport to go about their daily lives, please sign up to our e-newsletter. We’ll write to you about this and future reports and our free events to discuss transport and planning.