Memorandum by Peterborough City Council
In compiling our evidence for the Committee,
we have structured our response broadly in line with the questions
we understand are being addressed by the Inquiry into the New
Towns' problems and future. We address the general picture for
New Towns, and wherever possible we give specific examples as
applied to Peterborough City Council, and its New Town areas.
We hope that this format will assist the Committee in their deliberations.
1. The original design of many New Towns
is leading to concerns about long term sustainability because
(a) their fabric, infrastructure and housing
was generated on a large scale at approximately the same time.
Thus, housing and design problems of that time are emerging en
masse, for example, the neighbourhood designs of the Sixties
were based on the assumptions of high car usage, two parent families
where one parent was available for childcare, smaller families
where teenagers/early adults left the family home once they started
work; and where crime and fear of crime was at lower levels than
currently. The design of these estates can marginalise communities
and individuals who are vulnerable. Remote garage courts, alleyways
and dense shrubbery mean that these estates are more prone to
crime and vandalism. Peterborough experiences a higher rate of
crime per 1,000 residents than any other district in Cambridgeshire.
Even in comparison with its "crime family group" of
30 authorities, only two, Hastings and Bristol, have a higher
rate of crime per 1,000 residents. During 2000-01 the total number
of reported crimes was 24,305 compared to 26,381 during 1999-2000,
which represents a 7.9 per cent fall in reported crime. During
2000-01, the most commonly reported crime was "Theft from
Motor Vehicle" (16 per cent of all reported crime) followed
by "Criminal DamageVehicle" (10 per cent) and
"Violence" (9 per cent). In our opinion design in New
Town areas is relevant to these figures and requires direct and
specialist interventions to overcome the problems.
(b) Addressing sustainable transport issues
will reduce car dependencies for example maintaining cycle tracks
with good lighting, CCTV, reducing fear of crime which would also
encourage people to walk to local neighbourhood centres; encouragement
of tele-working and internet access points in libraries and shopping
centres; park-and-ride for town centre access; rapid transport
systems linking living areas with working/leisure amenities; decentralised/local
area-based council service delivery.
(c) Balancing new developments and older
parts of the towns requires planned investment in infrastructure
and bold thinking about environmentally supportive urban design.
For example, new developments should minimise car dependent layout,
building in strong public transport access; where possible new
developments should plan for energy-efficient housing and waste
recycling. Where possible brown field/high density development
should be used to the maximum, with mixeduse town centre developments
which encourage the "evening economy".
2. Social Exclusion in New Towns is being
exacerbated by the current Government policy in relation to small
pockets of deprivation because:
(a) New Town neighbourhood characteristics
generate social problems and anti-social behaviour, breakdown
in family life and transport/mobility problems which, again, are
not visible in the targets measured to access Government funds
for tackling social exclusion.
(b) government initiatives selected solely
on IMDs miss the type of regeneration required by New Towns whose
infrastructure/housing may not appear in those indices.
(c) the current operation of "claw back"
relating to housing leaves ex-New Town Local Authorities at a
disadvantage with for example only £1.2k recycled into capital
receipts from the sale of a £60k house.
3. In relation to the organisations and
regulations operating in the New Towns:
(a) Where there are substantial land holdings
with English Partnerships in a New Town there are particular difficulties
because the New Town cannot realise the value of assets for additional
finance to regenerate their own area. Nor can they use new Treasury
rules which permit local authorities to borrow against their own
(b) All planning powers held by English Partnerships
should be transferred to local authorities so that the local authorities
can use Section 106 rules to negotiate deals for local community
benefit, so that local authorities have better control over growth
in the New Towns. Planning arrangement should be streamlined.
Local authorities are best placed to regenerate former New Towns.
(c) The recycling of capital receipts from
CNT land asset sales into local regeneration projects will promote
sustainable development. Local authorities should be permitted
to borrow against the value of the English Partnerships' assets.
4. Ensuring that Government agencies work
with local authorities in regeneration strategies will further
promote sustainable development.
5. English Partnerships should be working
in conjunction with local authorities. EP should have direct democratic
inputs; currently the EP structure is disjointed, and while on
individual projects English Partnerships are supportive and effective,
overall there is a concern about accountability and responsiveness
to local requirements.
6. The Government needs to taken into account
the fact that the design of New Towns:
(a) has brought about a concentration of
specific challenges which need to be dealt with rapidly social
behaviours related to urban and neighbourhood design; dependencies
on car-borne transport; a number of housing estates all reaching
a point of needing refurbishment; demography of New Towns bringing
on stream simultaneously, peaks of specific age-groups with related
needs (nurseries for children, teen-age pregnancies/single households,
older people and frail elderly with special needs).
(b) means that New Towns have a demography
which is leading to current population growth but the RSG funding
formula is weighted against strong population growth.
We believe that as a consequence that the RSG
formula should be reviewed.