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If the success of a garden village is judged by its longevity, it’s safe to say Birmingham has one of the most successful.

Established in 1893, Bournville started with a handful of cottages and today is home to 25,000 people.

As the Trust that’s managed and developed the village since 1900, it’ll be no surprise that we think garden villages deliver, and not just short-term.

They provide new homes and community facilities that support flourishing communities, health and the economy.

Therefore plans to build 14 new garden villages across the country is welcome. But how do we ensure the new villages are as sustainable as their predecessors?

The Government’s commitment to ensuring they have the infrastructure needed is a step in the right direction.

This component is vital in supporting a new community to thrive which, with considerable foresight, Bournville’s founder George Cadbury understood.

However, what is missing from the plans, is the recognition of the need to manage and protect these facilities once built.

It can be easy to overlook the role long-term stewardship plays, but without it new developments can struggle to take root. New places don’t become successful automatically, they must be nurtured.

At Bournville Village Trust we focus on landscape management, a building control function, resident involvement and social capital.

A further consideration is the mixture of homes in the new villages.

The Government’s current focus is on homes for first time buyers. However, whilst helping people to buy is important the need for affordable rented housing shouldn’t be overlooked.

In Bournville, George Cadbury wanted a mixed community which is why almost half the homes are for rent and are mostly pepper-potted to avoid any possible stigma.

He later founded the Trust as a custodian, meaning that even after his passing, these homes would continue to benefit those in need.

As a city, we should be proud of Bournville’s international reputation. However, more than that we should use it as a learning tool for the new garden villages.

Peter Roach, Chief Executive of Bournville Village Trust

(First published in the Birmingham Post)

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