Delivering much-needed homes and community facilities, garden villages are gaining planning and development momentum. We had a fascinating day last week at the Homes England’s Garden Villages national workshop, in partnership with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Rutland CC, on the St George’s Barracks Garden Village scheme.
The discussion gave food for thought on a number of issues surrounding long term delivery.
For me, what came out of this is the need to not just think about the design we see, but also what we don’t. We need to think long-term about infrastructure and broaden our current thinking; 5G / broadband and green infrastructure are just as important as roads and utilities.
We also need to think more about the lifecycle of the community, ensuring that when we talk about future proofing we don't limit ourselves to buildings. Communities change over time and so do their needs. With an ageing population, there is a need to think about how our environments must be able to respond to changes in health and mobility.
Messaging and meaningful engagement will be key to the success of garden villages and those overseeing sites need to be bold and firm in their vision. But even more so is the need for planning decision makers to think beyond what current policy says or wants, and consider the long term future of these sites.
Only then will we be able to create change around the dominance of roads, the way we travel by car, the way we work and the quality of our towns to create a legacy we can all be proud of.
Domestic gardens need a vision, care, nurture and long term maintenance. Garden villages are no different.
St. George’s is one of 19 successful bids to the Garden Communities programme and has received a proportion of £3 million grant funding to help develop design and layout proposals that include the creation of innovative new dementia-friendly neighbourhoods.