Location, location, location...But where?

The Government has made it clear the decision should be ‘locally-led’. Here are a few ideas Local Authorities and developers may consider.

17 June 2014, words by Susan Emmett


While the development of the next generation of Garden Cities is to be locally-led, certain areas have particular potential.

The map below shows some of the factors influencing development – the average property price in existing urban locations against factors that constrain development. For the purposes of this exercise, we have assumed existing constraints will remain, such as the Green Belt (light grey), Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or Sites of Special Scientific Interests (both in dark grey).

We’ve also considered current development sites as well as journey times into London via existing roads and railways. These are some of the areas across the wider South East where the potential for large scale development exists.


A. Northamptonshire and Peterborough

There is good availability of land across Northamptonshire, around towns such as Northampton, Kettering and Corby. Large strategic sites include a 5,000 unit urban extension being promoted at West Corby and an 8,000 unit development under construction in The Hamptons, a collection of new villages south of Peterborough.

Urban extensions of more than 5,000 units have also been proposed at both Rugby and Wellingborough and are currently going through the planning process. Infrastructure improvements and major regeneration schemes could be key to moving development forward and improving values in the area.

B. The “arc of prosperity”

The arc outside London’s Green Belt, from west to north east, is a thriving economic area. Major centres such as Cambridge and Oxford are amongst the fastest growing local economies, adding skilled jobs in technology and R&D. Property markets are mixed, ranging from very strong in Oxford and Cambridge to more affordable locations such as Milton Keynes and Bedford. Land values reflect this, and can therefore support “traditional” development routes in the more popular locations.

Transport infrastructure improvements to both road and rail are underway, and more are planned – this is likely to open up new areas for development. At present there is a lot of activity in the east of the arc, with large sites around Cambridge (Alconbury, Cambourne, Waterbeach and Northstowe) and Bedford (Houghton Regis and Wixams) at various stages of the planning and construction process.

C. M11 and east

A large area of relatively unconstrained land exists along the M11 corridor and to the east of the motorway. In locations with good transport links, land values are relatively high.

Additional supply here could take pressure off local authorities north of London where growth is constrained by the Green Belt. Large strategic sites include 9,000 units at Easton Park near Stansted and 4,000 at Beaulieu Park to the north of Chelmsford – both at the early planning and promotion stage.

D. The M3 & M4 corridors

To the west and south west of the capital, towns such as Reading, Bracknell, Basingstoke and Wokingham offer good transport links around the region and into London. House prices are generally in line with or above the regional average. Greenfield land values are such that development through urban extensions should be viable.

E. Surrey and Sussex

The constraints on the expansion of Brighton is one of the factors putting upwards pressure on house prices. The limited area between the South Downs National Park and the High Weald AONB offers potential sites to meet demand from the south and from London, with transport links via the main line into Waterloo and Victoria.

F. Around Ashford

Ashford International is a stop on the High Speed 1 line in Kent, along with other main lines. With house prices well below the London average and the potential of a fast commute into the capital, major development was proposed for the area under previous strategic plans. However, recent delivery levels have been relatively low. 5,750 homes at Chilmington Green currently have outline permission.

Map 2



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