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Think tank calls for 1,000 new ‘commuter villages’

Centre for Cities has called for the creation of 1,000 ‘commuter villages’ with easy access to jobs in urban areas.

A new report by the think tank calls for the development of 47,000 hectares of greenbelt and farmland within a 10-minute walk of existing train stations in five city regions.

By focussing on land with easy access to the rail network, it argues that the new homes would be within a 45-minute commute of large cities, like London, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle.

And the report claims the new villages could deliver up to 2.1 million new homes, which is more than has been built over the last 15 years.

For example, the report states there are 116 commuter stations within the Birmingham city region providing services to central Birmingham within 45 minutes.

According to the study, there is a total of 5,786 hectares around those stations.

‘Allowing for 10% of this buildable land to be devoted to publicly-accessible open space still leaves 5,207 hectares for housing development,’ the report states.

‘Assuming a density of 40 houses per hectare, this would enable the creation of 208,280 homes, generating some £8.1 billion in revenues.’

The report also calls for the abolition of Section 106 Agreements and the Community Infrastructure Levy and their replacement with a new simpler and transparent Land Development Charge.

If set at 20% of the new homes as they were sold, it would raise around £100 billion to be spent on supporting infrastructure and social housing.

The report also recommends giving the new rights to develop to commercial development companies owned by the rail operators such as National Rail or Transport for London.

The profits from this could replace taxpayer subsidy to the railways instead of generating windfall gains for lucky landowners.

‘We often talk about the need to build 300,000 new homes a year to tackle the housing crisis,’ said Centre for Cities chief executive, Andrew Carter.

‘But less often do we talk about where in the country these homes need to be built to make a difference.

“Housing provision should follow where people need to live for work. This means building in and around larger cities with lots of jobs.

‘Using existing commuter infrastructure as a base to deliver accessible new homes near our biggest cities could be the simplest way to do this – but it will require political will and compromise on the greenbelt,’ added Mr Carter.

‘If these new homes are delivered close to where they are needed near big cities then they will have access to workers to grow their economies and raise local productivity. But if we continue to stall on this then our biggest cities, and the millions of people living in them, will soon pay a big economic price.’

The full report – Homes on the right tracks – is available to read here.

Photo Credit – Robert-Owen-Wahl (Pixabay)

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