A year after gathering ideas on how a eurozone country could leave the single-currency bloc, the organisers of the?2014 Wolfson Economics Prize?are plunging into Britain?s highly politicised?housing debate?and challenging people to design a garden city.
Offering ?250,000 in prize money, entrants are required to answer: ?How would you deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular??
Lord Wolfson, the chief executive of retailer Next and the prize?s founder, said people in the UK ?live in smaller, less comfortable and more expensive homes than virtually any other European country? and that garden cities ?might provide an answer?.
?In addition to providing fantastic places to live, with spacious gardens, they would add billions to [gross domestic product], create hundreds of thousands of jobs and send a powerful message to the rest of the world ? Britain believes in its own future,? he wrote in the Daily Telegraph newspaper. The Conservative party peer claimed that 92 per cent of the Great Britain is undeveloped and that allocating 2 per cent of it ?could increase space for homes by more than 25 per cent?.
He admitted that because land is so expensive ? an acre with open planning permission can cost more than ?1m ? ?capturing this value to fund the costs of finance and infrastructure will require innovation?.
The cost of housing in the UK has become contentious with many people unable to afford to buy a home. The government?s Help to Buy scheme has stoked fears of a bubble, but?Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, on Wednesday played down the concerns while admitting he remained ?vigilant? to the threat.
Lord Adonis, the shadow infrastructure minister who wrote in Thursday?s Financial Times that the?government needs to become engaged?in building communities again, tweeted his support for the competition. ?Well done Simon Wolfson: offering ?250K prize for best plan to create a new garden city. A key priority for the country.?
Campbell Robb, chief executive of housing charity Shelter, also welcomed the competition?s theme.
?Our housing shortage has been decades in the making, and is now so severe it will take innovation and creative thinking to tackle,? he said.
?Britain desperately needs to build affordable homes and garden cities have proved to be a really successful way to create popular, cost effective and pleasant new communities where people want to live and raise their families.?
The prize, the second most valuable in economics after the Nobel Prize, is organised by Policy Exchange, a centre-right think-tank. The deadline for entries, which should comprise a submission of up to 10,000 words, is March 3 2014. There is also a ?5,000 fund for ?lightbulb prizes? to recognise entries that address aspects of the question in innovative ways.
The judges include Trevor Osborne, chief executive of the Trevor Osborne property group, Professor Denise Bower from the University of Leeds, and David Cowans, chief executive of Places for People.
A team from?Capital Economics won the 2013 prize?for arguing a country could leave the eurozone but it would have to keep its plans secret until the last minute, introduce capital controls, start printing a new currency only after formal exit, seek a large depreciation, default on its debts, recapitalise bust banks and seek close co-operation with remaining euro members.