Ukip and Tory voters show strong support as 75% of population back new garden cities
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities, Development
Ukip and Tory voters show strong support as 75% of population back new garden citiesImage: Housing via Shutterstock
Three-quarters of Brits support the creation of new garden cities to tackle the country's housing crisis, a national survey has found.
And the poll, which was commissioned by the Wolfson Economics Prize, found that support for new garden cities is stronger among older people, homeowners, and Conservative and UKIP voters than among the population generally.
Over two thirds of the public also said that building new garden cities would better protect the countryside from development than the alternatives for delivering new housing.
Carried out by polling firm Populus last month, the survey of over 6,000 people was the first-ever large scale canvassing of attitudes towards garden cities.
Populus found a huge groundswell of support for garden cities and a clear understanding of the role that they could play as a means of solving the country’s housing shortage:
• 72% of those asked agreed that there is a serious shortage of good housing in Britain which people like them could afford – only 19% disagreed.
• 74% of those asked agreed that it is a good idea to build new garden cities to help meet Britain’s need for more housing – only 13% disagreed.
• An encouraging 79% of over-65s agreed that it is a good idea to build new garden cities, a figure higher than the average for the population as a whole; and the older the respondent, the stronger the support they gave.
• Support for the principle of garden cities was strongest in London, the South East and the West Midlands, though regional variations were not particularly strong.
• Support for the principle of garden cities was strong across the political spectrum, with around three-quarters of every major party’s supporters agreeing that it is a good idea to build garden cities; 4 in 5 Conservative voters agreed – higher than the average (Liberal Democrats 82%, Conservative 80%; Labour 77%, UKIP 73%, undecided 73%).
• Levels of support for garden cities do not decline in rural areas – while 74% of all respondents agreed that it is a good idea to build new garden cities to help meet Britain’s need for more housing, the corresponding figure for rural respondents only was very similar at 72%, a similarity which is repeated no matter what question is asked (‘rural’ means that the respondent says that they live in a village, hamlet or isolated dwelling).
• Homeowners were more likely to agree with the principle of garden cities than renters, with 75% of homeowners agreeing that it is a good idea to build garden cities compared with 71% of renters.
• 70% of those asked agreed that building garden cities would be a better way of delivering new housing compared with how and where housing is delivered now – only 13% disagreed, and rural respondents were just as likely to agree with this statement as urban dwellers.
• 68% of those asked agreed that garden cities would protect more countryside from development than the alternatives for delivering the housing we need – only 14% disagreed.
• 78% of those asked agreed that it is important to provide private gardens in new homes that are built in Britain; older people typically felt this more strongly but 75% of 25-34 year olds also agreed;
• 58% of people agreed that there is plenty of land on which we could build if it were allowed – with older people again being most certain about this.
• More than two thirds of those asked said that free or cheap energy, council tax discounts, or a promise of improved local services would make them more likely to support a garden city in their area. A guarantee to protect homeowners against property price falls was equally popular, and more two-thirds of those asked said that significant cash sums would also make them more in favour (with never more than 15% saying that such incentives would make them less in favour).
Simon Wolfson, founder of the Wolfson Economics Prize, said: “This is a very encouraging poll. It demonstrates how popular garden cities would be as a solution to Britain's mounting housing crisis. It is particularly interesting that older generations, more than others, support the building of new homes with gardens. Naturally, they aspire for their children and grandchildren to live in the quality of homes they themselves have enjoyed."
Miles Gibson, Prize Director, said: “This poll is the largest ever conducted into attitudes towards the garden city concept, and it challenges the conventional wisdom in almost every respect. We found widespread support for new garden cities especially among older people and homeowners.
"Garden cities are perceived as a rational alternative across the country, across the generations, and across the political spectrum. The poll also shows that, when people are asked individually how they would react, distaste for better and more direct compensation for the costs imposed by new development is much less evident than might be thought.”