1:29am Monday 14th April 2014
© Press Association 2014
Up to three new garden cities with at least 15,000 homes each will be built to tackle Britain's chronic housing shortage, Nick Clegg will say today.
The Deputy Prime Minister will issue a " call to arms for visionaries" to set out radical plans for new housing schemes as he announces the publication of a prospectus inviting bids from councils.
Officials were keen to stress that the new cities would not be imposed on communities and must have local support and full backing from councils. They must also have good transport links and be commercially viable.
The Government plans to work with the two or three areas that submit the strongest expressions of interest to help them develop their proposals, including with planning and design, the Lib Dem leader will say.
Funding from a £2.4bn existing pot will be made available for developments up to 2020 and councils have been asked to raise potential problems with the scheme by the end of summer.
At his monthly press conference, Mr Clegg will say: "A steady stream of governments have failed to deal with the problem. Politicians from all sides have given up trying. I'm talking about garden cities - a vision of communities where future generations will live, work, have children, grow up and grow old.
"The average first time buyer is now over 30. Home ownership is falling for the first time in a generation.
"Once, owning a home was a dream that most people would achieve one day. Now that dream is becoming increasingly like a pipe dream for many young people.
"We have got to do more to tackle Britain's chronic lack of housing, and to build high quality homes in thriving new communities.
"We have allowed ad-hoc, urban sprawl to become a default solution. And it's a bad one - breeding local resentment while not solving the problem.
"Today I'm publishing a new garden cities 'prospectus', which calls for local areas to submit their vision for garden cities that will provide affordable homes, good schools, and jobs for the next generation, whilst at the same time preserving the countryside.
"It's much more than a document - it's a call to arms for visionaries in local areas in need of housing to put forward radical and ambitious proposals to develop their own garden cities.
"These plans will show that we can build beautifully designed new communities which preserve the gardens and accessible green spaces that residents most value.
"The best proposals will get government support to fully develop their plan, including access to a share of £2.4bn that is available for housing development between now and 2020.
"They will also get specialist planning advice and a brokerage service to bring together key partners across the public and private sector.
"I also expect some areas will want to innovate in ways which we have not anticipated, so we are ready and willing to consider any other ways government can support the delivery of garden cities, for example by removing barriers to acquiring land or attracting private finance.
"I'm clear that local communities developing new garden cities is an essential part of the solution to providing affordable homes to live in, building a stronger economy and a fairer society, where every person can get on in life.
"The first spades won't hit the ground tomorrow, but that doesn't stop us putting pen to paper to plan the places our children and grandchildren can afford to live in the years to come."
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