Garden villages, towns and cities have been seen by the Government as a way of addressing the housing shortage for a number of years. By the end of 2018, the Government proposes to implement regulations for the creation of oversight authorities (made up of one or more local authorities) to oversee the development of areas as locally-led new towns as part of the garden towns and villages agenda. The aims of the oversight authorities are to plan for high quality settlements and sustainable communities, support sustainable development and good design. In addition, oversight authorities should plan from outset for long-term stewardship of the new town assets for the benefit of the community, participation of the community and legacy arrangements. Each oversight authority will be responsible for appointing the chair and members of the new town development corporation. The members will comprise elected members nominated by local authorities, as well as independent members who are not nominated by local authorities.
The existing statutory powers to create new town development corporations that are accountable to the Secretary of State will not be abolished. The government, however, considers the new oversight mechanism is necessary to reflect the locally-led approach to garden towns and cities. The oversight authorities will exercise functions that, under existing legislation, are exercised by the Secretary of State. Such functions include the approval of new town development corporations’ plans, land acquisitions or disposals, and borrowing arrangements. Whilst there will be some functions that only the Secretary of State can exercise, including making an order to reduce the size of the are designated for the new town, or the dissolution of the new town development corporation, the emphasis is on creating new town development corporations that are genuinely locally-led.