Urbed wins Wolfson prize

Manchester-based urban design consultancy Urbed has won the £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize for its submission arguing for the introduction of a Garden Cities Act.

David Rudlin, managing director of Urbed, led the team, supported Dr Nicholas Falk of Urbed, Pete Redman of TradeRisks, Jon Rowland of Jon Rowland Urban Design, and Joe Ravetz of the University of Manchester.

The submission said that a Garden Cities Act introduced by the next government would allow up to 40 UK cities and towns to double in size, providing up to 150,000 new homes in each area while conserving the countryside. Rudlin argued that the extension of current settlements would prevent the need for new developments in the green belt.

For every plot developed, the same area again could be allocated for parks and gardens which are publicly accessible to the whole community.

Urbed was selected as the winner from a list of five finalists, chosen from 280 entries. A collaboration between housing charity Shelter, PRP Architects and KPMG was named runner-up and awarded £50,000.

Manchester-based planning consultancy Barton Willmore was a finalist with proposals for a range of Garden City Estates, in a submission that impressed the judges with its "sheer ambition and range of ideas… the submission recognised the crucial importance of a strong marketing and communications strategy to persuade local opinion." The firm will receive £10,000.

Chris Blundell, director of Golding Homes in Maidstone was also shortlisted, alongside a joint entry between designer and masterplanner Wei Yang & Partners and Peter Freeman, founder of developer Argent.

Rudlin of Urbed said: "I am delighted that our distinctive approach to building Garden Cities has been recognised by the judges, as will the good people of the fictional city of Uxcester that we created for the submission. We believe that the expansion of existing places like Uxcester 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."

Lord Simon Wolfson, founder of the Wolfson Prize, said: "We urgently need to build more houses and great places in Britain. David's entry is a tour de force of economic and financial analysis, creative thinking and bold, daring ideas. I congratulate him and his team on a fantastic contribution to the debate on how we can deliver great new places for future generations to live, work and play in."

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Richly deserved, well done David & team!

By Kerri

Well done Nicholas and Urbed. You’ll recall you fabricated a submission to Ministers for me in March 1972 for a "new approach to the problem of cities" and I then published (through SHELTER) a final scheme which built on my own new town and inner city experience but (and this is important!) by placing all this in an overall programme context that also directly addressed inner city areas of urban deprivation. You see in my own actual experience working at both levels I found that new towns could increase the problems of the inner cities and "areas of deprivation" by attracting the more mobile and employed urban families thus increasing the proportion of deprived in existing urban areas. You’ll perhaps recall that a more complete proposal was published in my 1972 SHELTER Report "Another Chance for Cities" (ISBN 09012 4211X) – copies in British Library, etc., etc! This showed how new towns, etc could not only assist regional development throughout UK but in addition directly alleviate urban multiple deprivation in existing cities. I later provided funding definitions to effect this within Whitehall but was unable to surmount internal bureaucratic Whitehall barriers – which remain to this day!!!! Des McConaghy (http://mcconaghy.jimbo.com)

By Des McConaghy

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