Nick Clegg: 'There should be more towns like Welwyn Garden City'

PUBLISHED: 14:36 22 November 2012

Deputy PM, NicK Clegg

Deputy PM, NicK Clegg

Archant

THE deputy Prime Minister has praised Welwyn Garden City - and said there should be more towns like it.

Nick Clegg name checked the town in a speech to the National House-Building Council today, Thursday, in London.

The Liberal Democrat leader said he wanted to “rediscover” the tradition of building new communities.

But his comments have fallen foul of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

He said: “We can either condemn ourselves to haphazard urban sprawl – the surest way to damage the countryside, we can cram ever more people into existing settlements, concreting over gardens and parks – and bear in mind we already build the smallest homes in Western Europe, or we can build places people want to live.

“Places which draw on the best of British architecture and design, which have their own identity and character, which – rather than destroy the countryside, actually have a crucial role in keeping it intact.

“Places put together in a way that makes sense for modern British families.

“People who want gardens; who want to live sustainably; no need to be able to move easily between work and home. Garden Cities and suburbs for the 21st Century.”

He added: “Letchworth was the first in 1903; then Welwyn. Then came garden suburbs – extensions to established urban centres which followed the same principles. Like Hampstead Garden Suburb – not far from here.”

But CPRE has hit back.

Planning officer Kate Houghton said: “CPRE agrees that we need to build more homes and create new communities.

“Garden cities incorporate some good ideas about how to do this, including an emphasis on people having an ownership stake in their own community, proper infrastructure provision, locally distinctive design and access to jobs near where they live.

“But the Deputy Prime Minister has made the mistake of completely ignoring the potential to regenerate our existing towns and cities to meet the current and urgent housing need and make them more desirable and sustainable places to live.”

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