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Britain's New Towns. Garden Cities to Sustainable Communities

Anthony Alexander

Published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2009 | ISBN 978 04 1547 5

Between 1946 and 1976, beginning with Stevenage, Harlow and Basildon and culminating in Milton Keynes, thirty New Towns were created across the UK. Today more than two million people live in the New Towns, and as they undergo phases of regeneration and renewal, this book revisits their story. How did these towns come to be built, how have they aged, and what lessons do they provide for regeneration or the creation of new urban developments today? The New Towns have been described as a social experiment; so what has this experiment proved?
As a national project, the New Towns sat alongside the creation of the National Health Service as an ambitious programme of the post-war government, aimed at promoting social and economic progress in the wake of the Great Depression and the Second World War. Both Labour and Conservative governments created New Towns to meet housing demand and encourage economic growth. Their origin in the campaigning vision of the Edwardian Garden Cities Movement meant pioneering new approaches for the design and management of the towns. These new principles meant a radical break with the traditional form of British towns and cities, which together with the rise in road transport came to epitomise twentieth century urbanism. The evolution of Britain's New Towns, their successes and failures, provides a vital lesson for the similarly courageous goal of creating new urban developments today.



Notes on writing style


1. The New Towns in a New Light

Part I: Planning the New Towns

2. A Bit of a Bombshell
3. The Early New Towns
4. The Later New Towns
5. The Origin of the New Towns Concept

Part II: Building the New Towns

6. The Formulation of the New Towns Programme
7. Principles of New Town Design
8. A Leap into the Unknown: building the New Towns

Part III: Living in the New Towns

Criticisms of the New Towns
10. How the New Towns Grew Old
11. New Towns in the Age of Sustainable Communities
12. Conclusion - the lessons of the New Towns



Anthony Alexander is a writer and consultant working in urbanism and sustainability. He has contributed to masterplanning, sustainable transport strategies and environmental policy at regional and national levels, including the UK government’s Carbon Challenge programme and Eco-Towns Initiative. His previously published work includes contributions to Learning from Place and Sustainable Urban Design, second edition.