Sustainability and green spaces should be housing priorities – The Guardian

Neil Blackshaw on the importance of infrastructure, Kate Ashbrook on how to secure green space, and Debbie Cameron on her treasured family garden
Even with a sophisticated planning system, we have never been able to reconcile a natural desire for green space and the reality of urban living (Editorial, 4 July). Development and construction drive carbon production. The last 14 years have seen the development of car-dependent housing estates euphemistically called “garden communities”, which will create unsustainability for years. Garden cities didn’t achieve the balance demanded now by the climate crisis and neither did new towns. We need a reimagined paradigm to meet demand for homes.
Fifty years ago, Leslie Martin and Lionel March published research showing how low-rise, medium densities could accommodate houses along with land for schools and open space. These models have never been absorbed into planning policy or architectural practice.
Political interference has focused on numbers and appearance at the expense of sustainable land use. If there is to be an expansion of housebuilding, let it be sustainable community building with the appropriate infrastructure.
Neil Blackshaw
Alnwick, Northumberland
A sound way of providing green space in development would be to mandate developers to register at least one town or village green in developments over a certain size or density. Once registered, the land is protected by Victorian legislation, and local people have rights of recreation there – it is secure for ever. This should be a part of Labour’s plan to get Britain building.
Kate Ashbrook
The Open Spaces Society
I agree with the call for more gardens to be provided in new council homes. My parents moved from London to their brand new council house in Essex in 1953. The hundreds of photos taken over the next 40 years reflect the importance of the garden to our family. We have one of my mum and dad holding my sister and me the day we moved in. They loved the garden so much that even though it rained the next day they, and the next-door neighbour, determinedly sat in it.
There are photos of my sister and me in our pram, playing, bashing tennis balls, children’s parties, Dad proudly showing off apples from the (tiny) tree, us dressed in our trendy 60s clothes, one on my wedding day … all these life-affirming events happened in that tiny garden. The garden was absolutely central to our lives. In today’s parlance no doubt it would, deservedly, be called our “happy place”. A place thousands more should have the chance to enjoy.
Debbie Cameron
Formby, Merseyside
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