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Where would Ed Miliband’s first New Town go?

17 February 2014

Ed Miliband has been singing the praises of New Towns in tonight’s Standard, saying a Labour government would use these developments to help solve London’s housing crisis. He writes:

‘A key plank will be creating new towns in sustainable locations where people want to live, just like earlier generations did in places such as Stevenage and Milton Keynes. Labour will kick-start the next generation of new towns and garden cities around the capital to ease the pressure on London.’

Although he doesn’t say it, it’s a reasonably safe bet that the Labour leader is thinking of Ebbsfleet when he talks about a sustainable location where people want to live. That’s where Lord Adonis, who is leading Labour’s growth review, has set his sights for a new development.

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Last week the Labour peer launched a collection of essays on New Towns which he has edited. Go East: unlocking the potential of the Thames Estuary follows Adonis’ year-long review of development in the Thames Gateway area. It includes an essay on lessons from Milton Keynes (incidentally, this week’s Spectator includes praise for that particular new town), and says:

‘A large New Town project should be started in the Thames estuary in order to kick-start major development and to demonstrate what is possible when delivery is properly organised and overseen. This is our most far-reaching recommendation.

‘Ebbsfleet, between Dartford and Gravesend in north Kent, appears to us the prime candidate. Ebbsfleet has three characteristics which make it ideal for immediate designation as a New Town, if it were given a powerful Development Corporation on the Milton Keynes model to take forward development using the staged, build-under-license approach outlined above.’

Those three characteristics are its location within travelling distance of London and the fact that it has a high-speed railway station, existing planning permission on the site for a huge new development which has reached a stalemate that Adonis and colleagues believe a New Town development corporation could resolve, and plans for a Paramount theme park nearby which ‘could create upwards of 25,000 jobs’.

One reason Adonis is so keen on New Towns is that the peak of housebuilding in this country came at the same time as the first wave of these developments. He sees a 21st century wave of New Towns in areas where local people are content with the idea of new development as a nifty way of approaching the housing crisis.

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  • swatnan

    We need half a dozen Garden Cities along the lines of Letchworth in the Home Counties. Could start off with Windsor and work clockwise. Population up to 33 000 to take Londons overspill, all self contained and sustainable eco towns/villages, with business parks schools and residential areas. The full works, as envisaged by Ebenezer Howard.

  • andagain

    It would be easier to believe in his promises if Labour had managed to start any of their eco-towns in the thirteen years they were in power last time.

    On the other hand, at least they want to try to get something built. Conservatives are apparently only in favour of all that economic growth if it can be done without building, extending or in any way changing any factories, offices, houses or any other buildings whatsoever.

  • Rockin Ron

    Doncaster North would be a good site for a new town. Home of the Opposition Leader, on the main East Coast train line, plenty of brownfield and stagnated sites. Good motorway links, near to Sheffield, Leeds and just 90 mins. from London. It would show us that Ed is serious wouldn’t it?

  • rtj1211

    So he’s not going to stick one anywhere near Boris’ Isle of Grain airport proposal then??

    He could clearly site 3 at Stansted, Heathrow and Gatwick if Boris got his way, you know…….

  • Colonel Mustard

    “Labour will kick-start the next generation of new towns and garden cities around the capital to ease the pressure on London.’”

    Is this lebensraum for the Fuhrer’s imported voters or to facilitate white flight as he crams more of them into London?

  • Two Bob

    Poland has plenty of surplus land lets build them there.

  • Colin

    Shut the door and give England a rest!

  • RavenRandom

    Oh no, now new state built towns… I look forward to an enriched multicultural life where fair means you pay over 50%, he pays none, and where paid for Labour voters can wave from their tower block home.
    Huzzah for an engineered society. After all previous attempts have gone so well.

    • sarahsmith232

      Absolutely right. How have we managed to get so close to a general election and hardly anyone knows he’s a tax-avoider himself? He’s so gung ho for a mansion tax yet he’s a mansion tax avoider. Him and the brother got onto the inheritance tax fiddle on that £3million home in Primrose Hill. They got the mum to sign it over to them 10yrs pre her dying so wriggled out of paying a penny. Yet are intent on making everyone else pay. Unbelievable really. And who even knows?

  • JoeDM

    Building more houses for immigrants is not the answer.

  • HookesLaw

    So lets get this right – Labour who complain about the north south divide want to build more homes in the South East. On the Thames flood plain?

    ‘There also exists a risk of fluvial flooding under extreme rainfall events in the Ebbsfleet valley, whilst rising groundwater levels and surface water drainage issues could result in more localised problems.’

    ‘However, Gravesham Friends of the Earth has warned about flooding on the site near Dartford and a rise in traffic. …. The 900-acre brownfield site is next to Ebbsfleet International station’

    Do I have to do all your work for you Ms Hardman?

    Of course there are the hospitals, doctors surgeries as well and the schools and the libraries and the water supplies the electic supplly, sewage disposal – all in a congested south east. Where would the people work? Where would the hospitals be built, who would man them?
    Or is this new ‘town’ not really a ‘town’ at all? Something has to give.

    Anyway, New Towns might be plausible in former indistrial areas in need of regeneration. Are they needed in the south east?

    I thought Labour’s last vote catching gimmick was building on brownfield sites?
    ‘Labour wants laws to ensure that developers focus on building on brownfield
    sites to avoid the “free-for-all” in the countryside.’

    Another day anpother (different) policy. I suspect most of us might think this makes more sense anyway than new towns.

    • Ron Todd

      I expect most of the ones that worked would work in London. How good is the rail link into London?

      • blairf

        brilliant. 17 mins to St Pancreas. It will never be more than a dormitory estate. If you want a true new town look to:
        1 – Between Hemel and Luton
        2 – Military ranges in NE Surrey around Bracknell/Camberley
        3 – Or more radically, ditch some areas of Green Belt. There is *plenty* of land, the shortages are 100% artificial. Trouble is their continued existence benefits too many rent-seeking vested interests

        More basically, if you accept London is the jobs engine, figure out how to get the employees able to live in London. London is less densely populated now than it has been in 230 of the last 250 years.

  • blairf

    The only reason Ebbsfleet is even being considered is that it is the only ‘hole’ in the green belt within 40 miles of Central London. And the idea of Ebbsfleet as a new town a la MK is laughable. It will be a housing estate for ~20K people tops and simple lead to Dartford and Gravesend coalescing. With Bluewater next door no town center retail will develop and the great link to Central London will mean it simply becomes a dormitory estate.

    • HookesLaw

      So my suspicion voiced elsewhere was correct then – its not a new town? Just another Wythensaw and Sale?
      Sadly the idiots at the Spectator cannot see through this and blast Miliband accordingly.
      Journalism – dead and buried. All the Spectator is fit for is to give house space to borderline Aryan supremacists to voice their ignorant bile.

  • david trant


    • ArchiePonsonby

      Or Chipping Norton!

  • CortUK

    I can always tell if an article is written by Isabel without looking at the byline.

    Still. If I die soon, I want to come back as her favourite cocktail dress. Please.

  • AnotherDave

    Kent is already one of UKIP’s strongest areas. If the people of Kent don’t want this development, that will just increase.,_2013

    • HookesLaw

      People of Kent can want or not want something without the help of UKIP, or are you thinking that Ebsfleet will be filled with immigrants?
      Methinks Labours plan is to move people out from where they weigh the Labour vote to where they can turn outer london seats into marginals.
      (EDIT – Sorry Mr Todd, wrote that before reading the next comment!)

      Do the juveniles at the Spectator have any views?

  • Ron Todd

    A huge opportunity to gerrymander a few more safe Labour seats

    • Shazza

      Will each new town centre feature a mosque, sorry ‘community centre’ to celebrate how culturally enriched we are? Great for increasing Labour’s postal vote scheme.

  • SG

    We will need new towns such is the shortage of homes (125k built last year against 20th century levels of 200 – 400k every year from the 1940s to 1990s).

    But the focus should be city centres. Most UK cities have very large amounts of redundant city centre land. They should be the priority for building to bring life and vitality back, sustaining business and lessening pressure on transport. Walk around Sheffield, Manchester and Birmingham, to name but three, and the plots are vast. have a look on google satellite maps to see. Could house hundreds of thousands. Most plots owned by Barrets, Berkeley etc who build very slowly, banking land and ensuring prices stay high and eyesores remain for decades.

    • Roughyed1963

      Err, I think if you have walked round the centre of Manchester recently you must have done it with your eyes shut :). The place is awash with new housing……

      • SG

        There’s still quite a few sites. Cross over into Salford and there’s lots of stagnated schemes and dead land.

    • Two Bob

      That wont max out profits though…..

  • Andy Mcrae

    Just when did The Spectator become such an uncritical PR machine for the Labour Party? In answering my own question I would suggest around the time Ms Hardman became Dep Ed.

    • realfish

      Mmmm. Interesting you say that Andy. Is that the same person who I saw nodding along with the vacuous Trot, Owen Jones, during the Marr show paper review the other week? Jones was his usual tribal self…our Issy just went along with it.

      • sarahsmith232

        Surely that will be the explanation for her employment? She really knows how to be pleasing to men. Suppose she would need to if the job required careful teasing out of titbits from a politician. She knows how to make herself pretty for them, she also really knows how to make her political views pretty for them as well. Check her commenting on immigration, her views are designed to demonstrate her feminine beneficence rather than display an opinion.

        • ArchiePonsonby

          She doesn’t please me!

    • Nicholas chuzzlewit

      Isabel is just a mouthpiece for Mary Riddel another left-wing idiot at the DT.

  • BarkingAtTreehuggers

    Why are we only ever looking back – Letchworth, Port Sunlight, Milton Keynes…
    Are those in the position to kickstart grand thing aware of the fact that town planning and urban design is a profession? Will we study what other nations have achieved since the Sixties?

  • BigAl

    Have you ever been to Ebbsfleet? I can’t imagine people choosing to liver there.

  • Ron Todd

    Where people want to live? With the labour party more likely to be where they want people to live.

    • HookesLaw

      As I think we are seeing – there is so much obviously wrong fake and manufactured in this Miliband announcement that you would think a journalist with even the minutest level of sentience would have figured it out and exposed it.

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