Reacting to URBED's winning proposal in the Wolfson Economics Prize, Richard Rogers has denounced the idea of creating new Garden Cities in the UK, saying that the "ridiculous concept" risks "emptying out existing cities and that is a ridiculous idea."
The proposal by URBED demonstrates how as many as forty towns and cities in the UK, including Northampton, Norwich, Oxford, Rugby, Reading and Stafford could be expanded, using the fictional city of 'Uxcester' as a case study. However, speaking to the Guardian, Rogers claimed that there was enough brownfield land in Britain's major cities to meet the needs of the current housing crisis, and the creation of new Garden cities would lead to increased car use and middle-class only towns.
Read on after the break for more of Rogers' comments
Rogers commented: "You could put two new towns in the centre of Croydon without any problem because the centre of Croydon is practically empty if you look at a plan of the place. It already has wonderful transport: trains, trams and it could even have a new runway at Gatwick which is not far away. There is even more brownfield land in the centres of Manchester, Hull and Birmingham. We should build new towns in our cities before we build them in the green belt."
Rogers believes that proposals to allow new towns on greenfield sites - a policy that in recent years both of the UK's major political parties have toyed with - is "pandering" to developers who find greenfield sites easier and cheaper to build on. As a Labour peer in the House of Lords, Rogers is speaking in opposition to his party's policy, however in the past he has been a key adviser to the Labour party on urban policy, with his 1999 report "Towards an Urban Renaissance" having a significant effect.
"There will be a point in time to come when we will need to use greenfield land, but we are not anywhere near it yet," Rogers added. "We have 61,000 hectares of brownfield land in England and the government has approved half of it as potentially suitable for development. That would allow 1.3 million dwellings to be built even at a low density."
In response to Rogers' attack, David Rudlin of URBED defended his prize-winning scheme, saying that his proposal applies to cities with very little brownfield land, rather than the ones mentioned by Rogers. "Richard must realise that they come to a point where they need to expand," he said. "I am proposing extending these towns and cities using a well-thought out plan rather than allowing them to sprawl in an uncoordinated way."
Story via the Guardian