The future of garden town and village planning along with transport connectivity, agile working and the electric car revolution was discussed at our 2019 Outlook and Predictions forum at One Angel Court, in the City of London, where WYG has its new London head quarters.
These discussions look forward to our first forum of 2019 'Healthy Cities' on 30th January, which further explores the issues around the housing crisis, cutting vehicle emissions and planning new transport infrastructure.
WYG Planning Director Martin Herbert described the difference between the scale and layout of the original garden towns like Letchworth, images engrained deeply in our collective imaginations, and what might be the future look and feel of our new towns and villages that the government has backed to help cope with the housing crisis.
The firm is involved in West Braintree, a garden community which is part of a collaboration between several Essex authorities creating three new towns which could deliver up to 43,000 new homes - Colchester, Tendring, Braintree and Essex County Council.
Co-operation between neighbouring councils and with developers, service providers and planning firms needs to work well commented Martin. The 'Duty to co-operate' enshrined in national planning guidance since 2012 has improved projects, and he noted that 'Some of the early local plans were in fact rejected because the councils could not demonstrate that full co-operation had taken place.
'Strategic planning between different local authorities, is something that we should look to support in 2019' continued Martin. Leader of Merton Council, Stephen Alambritis, who took part in our predictions event remarked that cooperation is very important, austerity means that the council planning departments are 'strained' and if the government wants more housing, it needs to provide proper funding for these departments to cope with the increased workload.
Stephen also discussed the council's Wimbledon master-plan, situating new housing around parks and libraries to build community facilities into housing provision and his plans to improve transport in the borough.
Doug McDougall, transport planner at WYG, who also spoke at the December forum, said that infrastructure planning has to be done well if new housing projects are to succeed. He also warned that a lack of guidance and commitment on providing charging infrastructure both within and outside cities is a block on the uptake of electric vehicles - even though people are keen to buy them.
He highlighted research in Stockholm and Paris which has been testing wireless charging technology to provide much more flexible access to energy for the new wave of electric vehicles.
Please watch Doug discussing this below: