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Shelter submits detailed plans for Stoke Harbour garden city on Hoo Peninsula in Medway to judges of Wolfson Economics Prize

28 August 2014
by Chris Price

A new garden city in Kent will house 48,000 people and create 2,000 permanent jobs, according to detailed proposals submitted to the judges of a £250,000 competition.

A 212-page report by housing charity Shelter has laid out how it would create Stoke Harbour, a new town on the Hoo Peninsula.

Made up of 15,000 homes built over 15 years, it would eventually grow to a garden city of 60,000 homes, housing more than 100,000 people.

What Stoke Harbour could look like

What Stoke Harbour could look like

The theoretical proposals – which the report says “is a model that is ready to go” – have been submitted for the Wolfson Economics Prize, the second-biggest cash economics prize in the world, after the Nobel Prize.

The plans estimate the town will generate at least 2,000 permanent jobs in retail, hospitality, communications, real estate and financial services – with another 1,000 in public services and related fields.

Shelter – which was one of five entrants shortlisted for the prize set up by Next chief executive Lord Wolfson – says building the housing and infrastructure will create more than 1,000 construction jobs.

This will be backed by another 1,500 workers in the supply chain and 150 apprentices, with Dartford-based construction company Laing O’Rourke to set up an off-site manufacturing factory employing 350 people and 50 apprentices.

An artists impression of Stoke Harbour

An artist impression of Stoke Harbour

Environmental concerns have been taken into account, which have long blighted proposals to build a hub airport on the Isle of Grain.

The proposed sites avoid protected areas and make use of brownfield land around Kingsnorth and Grain power stations and industrial estates.

However, the plans have provisionally included the proposed development of 5,000 homes at Lodge Hill – controversially situated on protected bird habitat – although the report says it is not critical to the proposal.

Shelter says 37.5% of the homes will be in affordable tenures including shared ownership, and the homes for sale will be priced competitively for Medway. Also, 40% of the area would be green space.

Lord Foster's plans for a four-runway airport at Grain have provoked a strong reaction

Lord Foster's plans for a four-runway airport at Grain have provoked strong opposition

The plans say a relatively easy upgrading of rail lines would place the town within 45 minutes of King’s Cross and link it naturally to Ebbsfleet Garden City, creating a new centre of employment in north Kent.

A YouGov poll found 61% of people in Medway would support a garden city in their local area if it resulted in improved services.

The proposals also say they will compensate the 35 homeowners on the site, paying 150% of the value of their home for people who want to leave, or £100,000 plus expenses for those that want to stay.

The vision has been put together with the help of PRP Architects, with advice from accountants KPMG, Laing O’Rourke and investment management group Legal & General.

“Our model proves that, with the right innovation, it is absolutely possible to build a garden city that is popular with local people, and provides the affordable homes, jobs and infrastructure that they are crying out for..." - Shelter's Campbell Robb

Shelter’s chief executive Campbell Robb said: “Creating new garden cities is an essential step towards building the homes we need.

“Our model proves that, with the right innovation, it is absolutely possible to build a garden city that is popular with local people, and provides the affordable homes, jobs and infrastructure that they are crying out for.

“We hope that our vision will help take current and future governments one step closer towards meeting the housing shortage.

“Although it is only theoretical, we believe that a new garden city in Medway has the potential to offer the existing community genuinely affordable homes for their children, as well as new schools, green spaces, jobs, transport links and more to benefit the whole area.

“Soaring prices and years of rock-bottom house building have pushed the housing market to crisis point. We need to see urgent action to give hope to all those watching their dreams of a home of their own slip further out of reach.”

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