Lord Wolfson: Great garden cities will be great for growth

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Monday, 14 April 2014

Synopsis

Simon Wolfson, who is offering a £250,000 prize for the most innovative ideas on how to build a new garden city, today backed the Government's plans for garden cities as an important tool in securing the future of the British economy.

The Government’s announcement comes on the day (14 April) the Wolfson Economics Prize revealed that 279 entrants from around the world have entered the competition on how to deliver a new garden city and that the finalists for the £250,000 prize will be announced on 4 June.

Welcoming the Government's call for proposals from local communities for new garden cities of 15,000 homes or more, Simon Wolfson said:

"This initiative could be great news for Britain's future. Regions up and down the country should now think about how new garden cities might help secure local economic growth. New cities with plentiful green space, services and facilities are magnets for the young, educated professionals which local economies need to attract. Garden cities are not just good housing policy: they are good employment policy too."

Commenting on the Deputy Prime Minister's suggestion that there should be significant new development in the 'arc' between Oxford and Cambridge, Lord Wolfson continued:

"Sixteen months ago I argued that we should develop new garden cities between Oxford and Cambridge. They would capitalise on the truly global success of our university towns without having to rely on London, and create a vibrant new region focused on advanced economic sectors such as technology, information and science. It would also take pressure off London's Green Belt and valuable countryside like the 1 Chilterns, as well as preventing unplanned incremental edge-of-village development across the South East."

Notes to Editors

1. Simon Wolfson's article on development in the Oxford-Cambridge arc (The Times, 4 December 2012)may be found at http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/columnists/article3619518.ece

2. The Government has today published a prospectus calling for proposals from local communities for settlements of 15,000 homes or more. See https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-offers-support-for-locally-led-garden-cities

3. Press enquiries about the Wolfson Economics Prize can be directed to John Higginson at Westbourne Communications Ltd, 07920 701 693

4. At £250,000 the Wolfson Economics Prize is the second-biggest cash economics prize after the Nobel Prize. The prize seeks to find the best answer to the following question: “How would you deliver a new Garden City which is visionary, economically viable, and popular?”

5. The 2014 Prize topic was announced on 14 November 2013 and the entry deadline was 3 March 2014. Entrants were asked to provide an essay (‘Primary Submission’) of 10,000 words (plus nontechnical summary of 1,000 words) on the Prize Question. Entrants were permitted to include additional Appendices and illustrative material.

6. The Judges have been asked by Simon Wolfson to select around five finalists. All Finalists who submit a revised Secondary Submission which elaborates on their Primary Submission will receive a £10,000 except for the eventual winner who will win £250,000. Finalists will be announced on 4 June 2014.

7. Other prizes, known as ‘Light Bulb’ prizes, will be awarded to entrants whose entries address aspects of the Prize Question in particularly innovative, creative or otherwise outstanding ways. The fund for these Prizes is £10,000.

8. The full Rules for the competition, the entrants Information Booklet, and other material related to the Prize, is available at www.wolfsonprize.org.uk

9. The Wolfson Economics Prize was founded in 2011 by Lord (Simon) Wolfson of Aspley Guise. There has been one previous competition, on the topic of the Eurozone. The winner of the 2012 Prize was Roger Bootle with Capital Economics.

10. Simon Wolfson has been Chief Executive of Next plc since 2001, a company he joined as a Sales Assistant in 1991. Since his appointment as Chief Executive Next profits have more than doubled with earnings per share compounding at 16% per annum. Simon was created a Tory Peer in 2010. Simon's long standing interest in better housing, the social and economic benefits it can bring to the UK are born of years of experience trading the length and breadth of the UK.

11. The Judges for the 2014 Prize are:

  • Trevor Osborne is Chair of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize judges and is one of Britain’s leading property developers. Through his current investment vehicle, The Trevor Osborne Property Group Limited, he has built award-winning mixed-use, commercial, leisure and residential projects, often in historical buildings and often partnering with Councils and other public sector organisations. From 1991-92, Trevor was the President of the British Property Federation. From 1980-1982 he was the Leader of Wokingham District Council.
  • Professor Denise Bower is the Director of the Engineering Project Academy at the University of Leeds. She is a Fellow of the Institution of Civil Engineers, where she chairs the Capacity building Panel, a member of the IUK Client Working Group, a member of the Cabinet Office Trial Projects Delivery Group, an Executive member of the Engineering Professors’ Council and convener of the Network for Excellence in the Learning and Teaching of Project Management.
  • David Cowans is Group Chief Executive of Places for People and has 30 years’ extensive experience of housing, urban regeneration, mixed-use development, financial management, and of leading strategic change in both large and small organisations. He is a Chartered Director of the Institute of Directors, a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, Chartered Member of the Institute of Housing, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Member of The Institute of Residential Property Management.
  • Pascal Mittermaier is the Director of Sustainability EMEA and Project Director, Elephant & Castle Regeneration at Lend Lease. From 2002-2007 he was the President of Swiss healthcare company Roche, based in Montreal and from 2007-2010 CEO of Roche in Milan.
  • Tony Pidgley CBE is the Chairman of The Berkeley Group. He left school at 15 to form his own company in haulage and plant hire. At 21, he sold his business to Crest Homes and became a Building Director reporting to their Managing Director, Jim Farrer. In 1975, Tony and Jim left to form Berkeley Homes. The company enjoyed considerable growth over the following 10 years. It floated on the Unlisted Securities Market in 1984, and then gained a full listing in 1985 as The Berkeley Group plc.
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