Context 162 - November 2019

24 C O N T E X T 1 6 2 : N O V E M B E R 2 0 1 9 KATIE PARSONS The return of garden towns and garden villages Historic England is working to encourage good design and to ensure that heritage issues will not be overlooked in the planning of the new series of garden towns and garden villages. The government is embarking on an ambitious growth agenda to deliver housing using the new town model. This will be known as the Garden Communities Programme. A renewed focus on new towns stems from the government’s objective to deliver not only housing numbers, but also well-planned, high-quality development. Historic England is working to encourage good design and to ensure that important heritage issues will not be overlooked in the town plan- ning of these new settlements. Heritage has an important role to play in the government’s growth agenda and in place- making. A good understanding of the historic environment and its importance matters. This involves, first, looking at the success and failures of our existing new towns, especially regarding their future management; and, second, under- standing the historic environment of places where new towns are to be located. Existing new towns Britain has a long standing relationship with the new town model, beginning with Ebenezer Howard’s pioneering To-morrow:A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, published in 1898 and later repub- lished as Garden Cities of To-Morrow . Howard’s work has become part of a town planner’s edu- cational foundation alongside other influential town planning concepts such as Germany’s town extension plans, France’s civic boulevards and America’s public parks system. All of these town planning models have been pursued with the simple but somewhat utopian objective of trying to solve a problem and to make better places. Howard’s 19th-century garden city principles continued to influence town planning reform throughout the early 20th century (as seen in garden suburbs), but it was the 1940 Barlow Report that triggered a major shift towards the building of new towns. The Barlow Report advocated a planned process of decentralisation to address issues stemming from the over- concentration of industry and populations in large towns. This initiative influenced post-war reconstruction and set the foundations for a formal new towns programme, culminating in the New Towns Act 1946. The Market Place, Harlow (Photo: Historic England Archive)