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Garden city winner announced

A plan to allow many of the UK's towns and cities to double in size by building on the green belt has won the Wolfson Economics Prize.David Rudlin of urban design and research consultancy URBED has been awarded a £250,000 prize after an independent panel of judges selected his proposal as the winning scheme.His entry argued that up to 40 existing towns and cities should be allowed to expand, providing new homes for 150,000 people per town over 30-35 years.According to Mr Rudlin, the plan would help to protect the UK's countryside while accommodating growth and regenerating town centres."We believe that the expansion of existing places … to create garden cities has the potential to make a significant contribution to meeting our housing needs as well as creating places that are attractive and popular, and that fulfil their economic potential," he stated.However, the government has already said the winning bid will have no influence on its housing policy.Housing minister Brandon Lewis said: "We are committed to protecting the green belt from development as an important protection against urban sprawl."He added that the coalition has abandoned the top-down planning policies of the previous administration and that imposing housing numbers on local communities would cause resentment.Under Mr Rudlin's proposal, extensions to the towns would be linked to the city centre by a tram or bus rapid transit system.Drawing on Scandinavian, Dutch and German models, the new areas of development would consist of green, walkable neighbourhoods with primary schools, business uses, and local shops.Mr Rudlin claims the vast majority of greenbelt land would be protected and enhanced by his proposal.The Campaign to Protect Rural England also criticised the judges' selection. The organisation's head of planning, Matt Thomson, said popularity was supposed to be a criterion of the contest, but pointed out that building on the green belt was unlikely to be popular. 

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