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Finalists announced for garden city contest

Five finalists have been announced in a competition to design a new garden city.The Wolfson Economics Prize is worth £250,000 and will be awarded to the winner of the contest. Housing charity Shelter has put forward a plan for a new town on Kent's Hoo peninsula, between the estuaries of the Thames and the Medway.This would begin with a settlement providing homes for 48,000 people, which would be expanded to house 150,000 people.Designed to attract a large amount of private investment into the provision of high quality homes, jobs, services and infrastructure, the plans prioritise speed and volume over profit margins, aim to acquire land at low cost and transfer valuable assets to a Community Trust for the long term.Another plan, put forward by Urban Environment Design, argues for the near-doubling of an existing large town in line with garden city principles. This would provide housing for around 150,000 people and is based on a fictional town called Uxcester.London-based Wei Yang and Partners have proposed an 'arc' of housing beyond the London green belt that would run from Portsmouth to Oxford to Cambridge to Felixstowe.Lord Wolfson of Aspley Guise said: "Collectively, the entries clearly demonstrate that Garden Cities are not just an opportunity to crack Britain’s housing crisis - they can also deliver better homes, gardens, infrastructure, schools hospitals, public spaces, jobs and economic growth."They are a real chance to improve quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people."In April, the government published a garden cities prospectus inviting bids from councils to develop three new garden cities, each with enough homes for around 15,000 people.Some £2.4 billion is being provided by the government to fund the projects, which are seen as a solution to the UK's chronic housing shortage.Wolfson Prize director Mike Gibson estimates that, if all of the proposed garden cities were to be built, they would provide homes for 400,000 people and 400,000 construction jobs. 

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