Garden Villages - Places People Love with pubs


Anyone planning a town or village these days would undoubtedly make room for a pub or two. They are often the centre of village life, so you might be surprised to learn that the first ever Garden City didn’t have one.

When the planners of Letchworth in Hertfordshire put their heads together at the dawn of the 20th Century they decided pubs would be banned. It wasn’t until 1958 that the town gained its first hostelry, the Broadway Hotel. 

Letchworth was the brainchild of Ebenezer Howard, who saw Garden Cities as the solution to the squalor and deprivation of urban life. His ideas spawned a movement and led to Welwyn Garden City as well as Letchworth.

Recently, the government has thrown its backing behind a new generation of Garden Cities and Towns. Critics have argued these developments contribute to urban sprawl and threaten greenbelt areas and call for more high-density development in established cities.

For me, I think that the critics are missing the point. Not everyone wants to live in a city, even a well-planned, high-quality one. For many people the dream is to live in a well-connected town or village within easy reach of work and with green spaces on their doorsteps. In other words, a Garden City.

I agree with the government that these garden communities can play an important part in meeting our urgent housing needs. However, not as a stand-alone solution but hand-in-hand with other housing initiatives, including the regeneration of run-down inner-city estates and the development of brownfield sites.

What the government is calling for is high-quality place-making and not town centres that look like anywhere and nowhere at the same time. That is music to my ears! I’m proud to work for a company that shares these aims.

I only have to look at the evolution of our developments to be convinced this is the right way ahead. For instance, Great Notley Garden Village is one of the most sought-after places to live in Essex. Work began in 1993 and now Great Notley boasts 2,000 homes, shops and other community assets. Nearby is the Skyline 120 business park we developed.

The last thing anyone visiting Great Notley would say is that it is full of identikit homes or that quality has been sacrificed for quantity. It has a clear identity and is on a scale that allows the community to function self-sufficiently. Its closeness to nature encourages healthy living, while the landscaping promotes biodiversity. We’re confident it’ll be a place people love for generations to come. And there’s a pub, the Prince Louis!

We’re convinced that Garden Cities, Towns or Villages, built in the right place with local support, can be an important part of the housing crisis solution. Although not officially a garden village our development of the Bourn Airfield, recently given the go-ahead as part of the South Cambridgeshire plan, is a case in point. Once complete, it’ll offer 3,500 homes just a few miles from Cambridge City Centre and will contribute to the mission to build much-needed homes in the Oxford-Milton Keynes-Cambridge corridor.

Tom Sherriff,
anaging Director, Housebuilding (South), Countryside