From Garden Cities to New Towns: Campaigning for Town and Country Planning, 1899-1946

From Garden Cities to New Towns: Campaigning for Town and Country Planning, 1899-1946

From Garden Cities to New Towns: Campaigning for Town and Country Planning, 1899-1946

From Garden Cities to New Towns: Campaigning for Town and Country Planning, 1899-1946

Synopsis

This book offers a detailed record of one of the world's oldest environmental pressure groups. It raises questions about the capacity of pressure groups to influence policy; and finally it assesses the campaing as a major factor in the emergence of modern town and planning, and as a backdrop against which to examine current issues.

Excerpt

Over nearly half a century (more when one takes account of the various antecedents) a campaign was mounted to persuade the rest of society of the merits of creating new settlements as a key to wider reforms. Each new settlement, originally conceived as a garden city, would blossom like a flower in the desert. It was a campaign rooted in idealism, though compromises and changes were necessarily made along the way. From an original preoccupation with privately-sponsored garden cities the path of the campaign takes us into the arena of State planning and the introduction of a governmental new towns programme.

The course of this path, from garden cities to new towns, can be traced back to a setting of radical politics in late-Victorian Britain. For it was then, in 1899, that the Garden City Association was formed, with the aims of promoting the idea of the garden city and of initiating a practical scheme. the philosophy of the organization was based on the contents of a book by Ebenezer Howard, To-morrow: a Peaceful Path to Real Reform, published in the previous year.

From its Victorian origins, the campaign of the Association (renamed the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association in 1909, and, then, the Town and Country Planning Association in 1941) was constantly updated in the light of wider changes in Britain in the first half of the twentieth century. Political, social and geographical factors in this period provide an evolving context for what was widely known as the garden city movement. Although, in a different form, the campaign continues to this day, a natural watershed is reached with the passing of the New Towns Act in 1946. It is this date that marks the limits of this book.

For the period 1899 to 1946, an attempt is made to disentangle three themes. the first is simply to record the history of the campaign, piecing together the various fragments of evidence and interpretation; the second theme, from a more detached standpoint, is to see this as a case study of pressure group politics; and the third is to locate the campaign within a wider context of modern town planning history.

The evidence leads me to the qualified conclusion that the campaign achieved some of its original objectives and was an important source of influence on planning thought and legislation. Yet it is also concluded that the effectiveness of a single pressure group cannot be assessed in isolation from a wider context of constraints and

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