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Gullands' Garden City Event

Over 60 business leaders from Maidstone and the surrounding area gathered at Maidstone United Football Club’s Gallagher Stadium on Thursday 9 October 2014 for an informative and thought provoking breakfast seminar, hosted by Gullands Solicitors, on the development of garden cities.

The speakers, Chris Blundell, Director of Regeneration and Development at Golding Homes, and Huw Edwards, Partner at planning consultancy Barton Willmore, were both shortlisted in the top five for this year’s Wolfson Economics Prize after submitting their proposals to ‘deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable, and popular’.

The presentations covered the many ways in which a new garden city development in Kent could combat the regions’ increasing demand for affordable housing; the benefits it would bring to the local economy in the shape of investment, employment and, as Chris suggested, the opportunity to develop a new industrial sector; as well as the steps that need to be taken to guarantee the sustainable future of Maidstone.

Blair Gulland, Chairman of Gullands Solicitors, commented: “We were delighted to have two of the five Wolfson prize finalists share their thoughts and insight into garden city developments and I would like to thank both Chris and Huw for joining us on this debate.”

Chris Blundell commented: “The breakfast seminar was an excellent opportunity to talk directly to the local business community and meet the people who can really be proactive about development.  Garden cities are not only a way to meet housing demands, but are key to addressing future business’ needs.”

Huw Edwards commented: “Despite claims, the UK’s planning system is not broken, in fact we are lucky enough to have a very successful and extensive planning regime in place.  Voters and politicians alike need to fully understand that a functioning garden city, built on a common purpose with the opportunity for community investment and with the incentive to grow and develop, would be of great benefit to the area.”

The business community was won over by the concept of garden cities but it is clear that there is still a long way to go to tackle the cost, planning and infrastructure hurdles.