The government has today announced the locations for the first fourteen "garden villages" and the expansion of three "garden towns". Fine details about the schemes have not been revealed but they are supposed to have active travel baked into them. Those that major on their "green" potential – including Carglaze in Cornwall – could prove to be ideal locations for the siting of new bike shops.
The government-supported garden villages have the potential to deliver more than 48,000 homes across England, says a statement. They will have access to a £6 million fund over the next two financial years.
The fourteen new garden villages are:
- Long Marston in Stratford-on-Avon
- Oxfordshire Cotswold in West Oxfordshire
- Deenethorpe in East Northants
- Culm in Mid Devon
- Welborne near Fareham in Hampshire
- West Carclaze in Cornwall http://www.westcarclaze.co.uk
- Dunton Hills near Brentwood, Essex
- Spitalgate Heath in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire
- Halsnead in Knowsley, Merseyside
- Longcross in Runnymede and Surrey Heath
- Bailrigg in Lancaster
- Infinity Garden Village in South Derbyshire and Derby City area
- St Cuthberts near Carlisle City, Cumbria
- North Cheshire in Cheshire East
The three new garden towns are:
- Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire
- Taunton, Somerset
- Harlow & Gilston, Essex and Hertfordshire
The garden towns will benefit from a further £1.4 million to support their delivery.
A garden town is a development of more than 10,000 homes. Garden villages are smaller settlements of between 1,500 and 10,000 homes.
The Bailrigg garden village is sited near Lancaster University and could be an ideal location for a student-friendly bike shop.
The West Carclaze village is billed as an "eco-community" and is located within the former china-clay workings at West Carclaze and Baal (Baal's Bikes slips off the tongue, devilishly). The community will sit around a set of restored lakes (think Rutland Water Cycling).
The Town and Country Planning Association has been lobbying for garden villages for some years, and recommends that they have “integrated and accessible transport systems, with walking, cycling and public transport designed to be the most attractive forms of local transport.”
Cycling and walking ought to be "prioritised over private car use" says the TCPA, although some of the schemes announced today can be described as "green washing" because they are linked with major road-building schemes.
Transport consultant Tom Bailey is an expert on active-travel provision in proposed garden villages and he told BikeBiz:
"It's difficult for me to comment on them individually as I don’t have enough detail. In some cases there aren’t detailed masterplans available publicly yet. I really hope there are some great schemes in amongst them but what can sound good in a press release can often turn out to be a set of shared use footways and dog walking paths which doesn’t amount to a bike network."
Bailey is a former network manager for Sustrans' National Cycle Network, and how has his own consultancy, Almere Consulting.
He agrees that "all of [the schemes] will have at least one highway project attached to them, varying in scale" and added that "the key question I’d be asking of all of the projects is whether there is a genuine commitment to hit the TCPA’s target of less than half of all trips by private car for Garden Communities? If so then we’d expect to see a very sophisticated cycling network, a well thought out public transport offer and good integration between the two."
However, the devil will be in the detail.
"Unfortunately there is still a major disconnect between the best cycling schemes being built by local authorities across the country and what is being planned in new development," Bailey told BikeBiz.
"Often people are designing recreational paths but completely omitting a dense utility cycling network that goes everywhere and enables people to do the basics like pop to the shops by bike."
For those interested in the cycling potential of the garden villages it would be worthwhile checking out Bailey's blog on the subject.