Wolfson Economics Prize 2014

All enquiries about the Prize should be sent to 

For media enquiries, contact John Higginson on 07920 701 693.

For the 2012 Prize on exiting the Eurozone, click here.

Wolfson Economics Prize 2014

UPDATE (8 AUGUST): Winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize to be announced 3 September

Prize Director Miles Gibson has announced today (8 August) that the winner of the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize will be announced at a special gala dinner in London on Wednesday 3 September 2014. Five finalists are competing for the top £250,000 prize. The shortlisted entries, though all very different from each other, provide valuable ideas about how best to deliver a new garden city which is visionary, economically viable and popular.

Details of the finalists and their entries were published on 4 June 2014 and are set out below. The finalists were challenged to refine their submissions in the second round of the competition and were given until 11 August to develop and resubmit their entries, from which the Judges will choose an overall winner.

Members of the Press can find a press release on the finalists' announcement here, and accompanying images can be found here. Press enquiries about the Prize can be directed to John Higginson at Westbourne Communications Ltd, 07920 701 693.

The Finalists

The five finalists are:

Barton Willmore, led by James Gross

Barton Willmore is the UK’s largest independent planning led town-planning and design consultancy. Barton Willmore's entry sets out a ten-point plan for the delivery of a new garden city, arguing for the development of a cross-party consensus and the production of a National Spatial Plan to identify suitable locations for new garden cities. Garden City Mayors, heading up Garden City Commissions, would be appointed to champion garden cities and find specific locations for development.

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Chris Blundell FRICS FCIH, Director of Development & Regeneration at Golding Homes.

Chris is a development professional with over 30 years’ experience and has entered in a personal capacity with the support of Golding Homes. His entry argues that a garden city should accommodate between 30,000 and 40,000 people (about the size of Letchworth) and that its delivery should be led by Garden City Development Corporations.

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David Rudlin of URBED, with Nicholas Falk (also URBED) and input from Jon Rowland (John Rowland Urban Design), Joe Ravetz (Manchester University) and Peter Redman (Managing Director, Policy and Research at TradeRisks Ltd)

URBED is an urban design and research practice. David’s entry argues for the near-doubling of an existing large town in line with garden city principles, to provide new housing for 150,000 people (about the size of Oxford). The entry offers a proof of this ‘urban extension’ concept based on a fictional town called Uxcester.

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Shelter, the leading housing and homelessness charity, led by their Head of Policy Toby Lloyd

This entry proposes a new garden city on the Hoo Peninsula (Medway, Kent) commencing with a settlement of up to 48,000 people (about the size of Welwyn Garden City) at Stoke Harbour as part of a larger cluster of settlements eventually totaling 150,000 people.) The entry proposes a model designed to attract massive private investment into the provision of high quality homes, jobs, services and infrastructure. The delivery model prioritises speed and volume over profit margins, aims to acquire land at low cost and transfer valuable assets to a Community Trust for the long term. Local people would be offered unique opportunities to invest in the city, including through buying shares.

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Wei Yang & Partners in collaboration with Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, led by Pat Willoughby.

Wei Yang & Partners is a London-based practice with an international portfolio of master planning, town planning, urban design and architectural projects. Dr Yang is also advising the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development on its urbanization programme. Their entry argues that an ‘arc’ beyond the London Green Belt (stretching from Portsmouth to Oxford to Cambridge to Felixstowe) is the best location for the development of new garden cities; and that the Government should publish a New Garden Cities Strategy identifying broad ‘areas of search’ for suitable locations, with a 30 year timescale.

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Highly Commended Entries

The Judges also Highly Commended four further entries which scored highly. Each of these entries receives a prize of £1,000.

Mark Brierley of NVB Architects (Frome, Somerset) and Patrick Newberry, an independent consultant, for a well-presented proposal with a clear and attractive vision, covering most of the main delivery issues but with added insights lacking in some other entries. This way in which this entry tested four illustrative sites added credibility and the detailed costings were welcome. Peter Freeman of Argent (developers of King’s Cross) for his wide range of ideas on securing popularity, compensation and governance and a credible financial model; the Judges felt this was an extremely well presented entry with a good analysis of the difficulties that those developing large settlements face. Professor Peter Hall of University College London for his ambitious national vision based on the possibilities offered by HS2 to raise land values, with proposed new clusters of garden cities near Daventry, Rugby and Preston. This submission imaginatively combined the ‘social city’ principles of Ebenezer Howard with up to date thinking on sustainable urban development from Freiburg, Germany. Alice Leach and Richard Crutchley, both town planners, for a financially-aware and credible proposal with a very clear survey of relevant financial issues. The Judges enjoyed this entry’s introspection into the definition of key terms in the Prize Question and the way it presented a vision of the future through the eyes of the city’s future Mayor. They felt it was a human proposal designed for real people.


Light Bulb prize winners

For the first time, Lord Wolfson has offered additional ‘Light Bulb’ prizes which recognise outstanding contributions to specific aspects of delivering a new garden city; each ‘Light Bulb’ prize wins £1,000 and a special ‘Light Bulb’ lamp trophy. The Judges have also selected the following five entries for Light Bulb prizes, and extracts from these entries have been published here. The Light Bulb prize winners were:

  • Ben Clark for his idea of crowd-funding a new city via the internet. A number of entries identified this opportunity, mentioning projects like a bridge in Rotterdam or a skyscraper in Columbia that had been funded this way. Peer-to-peer lending (ie debt rather than equity funding) was also mentioned. But Ben’s submission provided the best survey. Ben is an urban designer.
  • Henry Cleary and Andrew Wells for their specific ideas on how to hold a referendum to test local support for a garden city proposal, including details of eligibility criteria and the alternatives that voters should be offered. It suggests a process to go through before holding that referendum, suggests who should be eligible (including, crucially, those who have pre-registered an interest in living in the new development) and how the voters should be presented with a range of alternatives to choose from which don’t include ‘do nothing’. Henry and Andrew are consultants who formerly worked as civil servants at the Department for Communities and Local Government.
  • Martin Hewes for his proposal that older/retired people should form the core pioneer population for the new garden city.This paper sets out the demographic issues arising from an ageing population and argues that we need to make a much better housing and community offer to older people to reduce the risks of isolation and ill health in old age. This entry draws attention to the potential for garden cities to solve the housing problems of more than the young ‘pioneer’ first time buyer usually seen as the typical new town dweller. Martin is an economic consultant and forecaster, primarily in the construction industry.
  • Robbie Kerr and James Russell Stoneham for their comprehensive and clear ideas on using bond financing mechanisms to fund a whole new city. Although bond finance is already used by a number of developers, this submission argues convincingly and concisely for bond finance split into construction and infrastructure bonds, and identifies the potential role that Islamic finance could play. Robbie is an architect, and James is a trainee solicitor.
  • Lachlan Robertson MRTPI, for a range of convincing ideas on protecting the interests of affected residents, including ‘property bond’ style mechanisms (such as those proposed for campaigners affected by HS2) which guarantee property prices; extra pensions linked to the value of the city; a menu of ideas on mitigating environmental, amenity and privacy concerns that go well beyond the existing planning system; and a further menu of ways to record and celebrate the area’s heritage to prevent it being ‘lost’. Lachlan is a town planner and currently works at land and property firm Smiths Gore.

Other Interesting Entries

A submission from David Tittle of MADE, a Birmingham-based organisation dedicated to improving the quality of our towns, cities and villages. This entry makes a proposal for a new Garden City in the Black Country, with a first phase to be developed in Smethwick and Oldbury within the borough of Sandwell at the heart of England’s biggest conurbation. The authors write: "This is not simply a regeneration project or an exercise in urban densification. Albion will be a new place with its own clear identity. It will also clearly be a garden city, drawing on the principles of the garden city movement and reinterpreting them for the 21st Century."

Download entry


Children's entries

The Judges also decided to award £50 each to the three children who entered the Prize. In addition, the judges awarded £500 to St Antony’s School, London, for the entries from its Year 6 Art Design and Technology Class, inspired by their teacher Oliver Evelyn-Rahr. Click on the icons below to view these entries.

Ewan Frearson aged 6 from Letchworth Garden City (the youngest ever entrant to the Prize) Michael Fennell aged 12 from London Louis Upsall aged 12 from Wiltshire St Antony’s School, London.


About the Wolfson Economics Prize 2014

The case for garden cities is overwhelming with the current housing situation in the UK creating hardship and inequality for millions of people. But finding an innovative way to build communities that truly provide for and support their residents is not simple to achieve. The 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize therefore seeks to develop an answer to the question of how to bring about a new garden city.

The second Wolfson Economics Prize, launched on 14th November 2013, will be awarded to the entrant who offers the best answer to the question “How would you deliver a new Garden City which is visionary, economically viable, and popular?” The deadline for entries was 3 March 2014 and 279 entries were received.

Entrants were strongly advised to structure their submissions to cover the three closely interrelated criteria identified in the Prize question: vision, economic viability (and thus governance) and popularity. These three criteria are laid out in greater detail in the Prospectus.

Entrants were asked to explore the Prize question in detail in a submission of up to 10,000 words (plus a Non-Technical Summary of 1,000 words). Entrants were able to include charts, maps, tables, etc, as well as Appendices containing ancillary material.

Two rounds of entry submissions will take place, a primary round and a secondary round. The primary round was open to all entrants - the Prize judges have subsequently reviewed these submissions and drawn up a shortlist of entrants invited to elaborate on their primary submission with a secondary submission.

The Judges will read each of the secondary submissions and decide the winning entrant from among those submissions on merit. The overall winner will receive the £250,000 prize. Runner-up prizes of £10,000 will be awarded to entrants who submitted secondary submissions but did not win the overall prize.

Judges also had the discretion to award Additional Prizes ("Light Bulb Prizes") from a fund of £10,000 to recognise entrants whose submissions address aspects of the Prize Question in particularly innovative, creative or otherwise outstanding ways.

Click here to see the “Information for Applicants” prospectus which contains details as to how to enter the prize.

Click here to see the Prize Rules (last updated 4 June 2014).

Judging Panel

The judges are:

(Chair of the Judges) Trevor Osborne - Chief Executive, The Trevor Osborne Property Group

Professor Denise Bower - Director of the Engineering Project Academy at the University of Leeds

David Cowans - Group Chief Executive, Places for People

Pascal Mittermaier - Director of Sustainability EMEA and Project Director, Elephant & Castle Regeneration Lend Lease

Tony Pidgley CBE - Chairman, The Berkeley Group

More information about the judges can be found in the Prospectus.

Conference event on 28 January 2014

The Wolfson Economics Prize and The Building Centre held a conference on 28th January exploring the issues raised by the Prize in more detail. The entire event is available to listen to here, as well as copies of the speakers' slides.

Launch event