How to deliver a New Garden City by Robbie Kerr

The Audacity to Dream of Better

Robbie Kerr and James Russell Stoneham entered the Wolfson Economics Prize that asked “How would you deliver a New Garden City which is visionary, economically viable, and popular?”. Our response set out 'The Audacity to Dream of Better'.

The Garden City can create a settlement that is self-contained and encourage an urban way of life in a rural setting. The Garden City provides for the natural development of space which can be created through a polycentric village centre approach facilitating an easier phasing to development.

Long term, cost effective and sustainable financing is systemic to the economic viability of the Garden City. It was our suggestion that the primary stage to creating the Garden City should be through forming a long term partnership with the landowner and entering into an agreement of mutual benefit. This will enable the developing body to share the costs prior to the granting of the planning permission. The landowner can realise a higher volume for the land while developers have the security of land supply.

Following the establishment of such an agreement and the subsequent granting of planning permission the developing body can approach the debt capital markets to provide finance to purchase and develop the land. It is our intention that such capital should be raised by both conventional listed notes and sukuk. Importantly, the notes should be issued in a low denomination to encourage an element of ‘Crowd Funding’ to create vested interests in the creation of the Garden City. Furthermore, the Garden City should be entirely self sufficient for its own energy needs. It is our suggestion that the Garden City could construct green infrastructure by utilising feed-in-tariffs to issue notes to raise finance for this purpose.

The Garden City Movement transcends design. The ego of architecture must be removed and the input of local groups used to shape the scheme. Requirements of space and use of the space between the buildings will be strongest if those developing Ambition can embrace ideas of others into a framework that will engender an identity to be proud of and own.

Robbie Kerr, Director, ADAM Architecture