Taunton Garden Town
Building environments for people and wildlife
Garden Cities are a method of urban planning pioneered by Sir Ebenezer Howard in 1898. Howard set up the Garden City Association, which subsequently became the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) and founded the first Garden Cities in Letchworth and Welwyn. Garden Cities were not just about building houses, they were about building environments that were high quality, humane and self-sustaining, that factored in human behaviour, health and wellbeing, education, employment, culture and social justice. Importantly, they also considered that a clean environment and access to green space was vital. The TCPA has updated the Garden City Principles for the 21st Century.
Healthy urban living
There is a great deal of evidence to demonstrate that the areas where people live can have profound impacts on their health and wellbeing. Poorly planned developments can build in health problems and contribute to a lack of civic pride and community cohesion, whereas well designed areas can bring substantial benefits. For example, close access to green space has been shown to reduce levels of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and stress and anxiety, street trees and hedges can improve air quality and well-designed communal spaces can increase pride, participation and ownership amongst communities. In addition to these direct health and wellbeing benefits, well designed developments can benefit wildlife through providing refuges and foraging areas and can also reduce energy usage and help manage flooding.
Taunton Garden Town
In January 2017, Taunton was one of three towns in England to be awarded Garden Town status by the Department for Communities and Local Government, in addition to 14 Garden Villages. Taunton is unusual in that the other named towns and villages will be new, whereas Taunton, clearly, isn’t. The award was made on the basis of the regeneration of existing town centre areas including Coal Orchard and Firepool, and larger already proposed, and in some cases under construction, developments at Comeytrowe, Monkton Heathfield, Nerrols and Staplegrove, which combined would see over 10,000 new homes being built by 2028.
More information on Taunton Deane Borough Council’s Garden Town prospectus and what it may mean for our county town can be found here.
If fully and properly applied, the Garden City principles can lead to sustainable, healthy and attractive places to live, where communities and wildlife can thrive together. The challenge is ensuring these principles are met to achieve the potential benefits.
Somerset Wildlife Trust’s role
With support from the People’s Postcode Lottery, and working with partner organisations that have similar ambitions to ensure any developments within Taunton are sustainable and exemplary, the Trust will input into the Taunton Garden Town process. Key aspects we want to see realised for the town, and will be championing, include:
- A Taunton Garden Town Plan that encompasses all of the Garden City Principles and demonstrates how they will be achieved.
- The Taunton Garden Town Plan to be adopted as a central tenet by all areas of the Borough Council including functions relating to planning policy, housing, transport, environment and open spaces, communities, leisure and health and wellbeing.
- Benchmarks or targets relating to environment and sustainability to be set and used to assess developments and determine if they meet sufficiently high enough standards to warrant Garden Town status.
- A revised Green Infrastructure strategy that indicates practical delivery and management options for improving corridors that allow people and wildlife to move freely into and within Taunton, connecting existing and new developments and greenspace.
- Increased support for community engagement initiatives that seek to connect existing and new Taunton residents to their green space and help foster civic pride.
If you would like to find out more about SWT’s work on Taunton Garden Town email Jolyon.firstname.lastname@example.org
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Pictures: Community©CraigStone, FoxGloveintown©BenHall