The shortlist for the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize has been announced, rewarding five teams who rose to the challenge to design new garden cities which address the UK's growing housing shortage. The topic of garden cities is becoming a major focus for the UK's planners and architects, with proposals by the government for a new garden town of 15,000 homes at Ebbsfleet providing the starting point for debate.
However despite the debate within the built environment professions, with some arguing that garden cities are best left in the past, a survey commissioned by the Wolfson Economics Prize in conjunction with the award found that 72% of the British public believed there was a serious shortage of housing in the UK, and 70% believed that garden cities were a better way of delivering this housing compared to how - and where - housing is currently delivered. The five shortlisted teams will receive £10,000 to further develop their proposals and aim for the grand prize of £250,000.
Read on after the break for the list of proposals
Hoo Peninsula Garden City / Shelter
Housing charity Shelter's proposal for the Hoo Peninsula, just East of Ebbsfleet to the South of the Thames Estuary, takes the government's proposal for Ebbsfleet and scales it to a more dramatic level; their poly-centric garden city is designed for 150,000 homes. Their 14-year delivery model prioritises speed and volume over profit margins, aiming to acquire land at low cost and transfer valuable assets to a Community Trust for the long term. Local people would be offered opportunities to invest in the city, including through buying shares.
Uxcester / URBED
URBED has developed a model for expanding existing cities, using a fictional city of around 200,000 residents as an example of how this model would work. Three large urban extensions of around 50,000 people would link to the existing city by trams or buses. The new extensions would generate investment in the existing city centre and create new accessible green space on the edge of the city. A Garden City Trust would deliver the extensions, and would be owned jointly by local authorities, central government and land owners.
Wei Yang & Partners
Wei Yang & Partners have identified a zone of land which they believe to be the ideal position for garden cities which serve London. This area, which comprises an arc around London from Southampton in the South, to Felixstowe to the North East of the capital, should be the focus of a search for suitable land for new developments. Once suitable locations are found, single purpose private companies, under the control of a independent national Garden City Trust, would be established to deliver each city.
The proposal by Barton Willmore sets out a ten-point plan for the delivery of a new garden city. It argues that this plan must begin with a national debate and the production of a National Spatial Plan to identify suitable locations for new garden cities. After this, Garden City Mayors would be appointed to champion garden cities and find specific locations for development. The proposal asserts that the best cities develop organically, so while they do not propose a specific form for the new towns they give a set of mechanisms by which organic growth can be encouraged.
Blundell's entry focuses on a detailed financial model for garden cities of 30,000 to 40,000 residents. Like the proposal by Barton Willmore, he argues that the exact form of the city is best decided by residents, proposing that the design comes about through Local Government decisions arrived at through extensive community engagement. The entry proposes Garden City Development Corporations as the delivery vehicle. Landowners would be invited to invest their land in a long-term partnership, rather than relying on the outright purchase of land to deliver these new towns.