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Letchworth Garden City

Letchworth, the world’s first Garden City,  was the idea of Ebenezer Howard, a visionary social reformer who made tackling urban squalor his life’s work. His dream was for a town where everyone could enjoy fresh air and parks, alongside the opportunities and amenities of cities; and where the value of the town would be reinvested into the community.

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Howard outlined his philosophy in his book, Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform, published in 1898 (reissued in 1902 as Garden Cities of Tomorrow).  In June 1902, the Garden City Pioneer Company was formed to acquire a site on which to build a Garden City and test this great social experiment. Within five years of the book’s publication, Howard’s vision of a garden city came to life with the founding of Letchworth.

Drawing philanthropists and idealists from far afield, Howard founded Letchworth Garden City in 1903 to breathe life into his dream. The town he created, and the global Garden City Movement it inspired, revolutionised ideas about how good well-planned towns could be. Letchworth Garden City proved his model worked, and Howard’s ideas and thinking were soon being shared across the UK and around the world.

Garden city principles have influenced development all over the world, with large scale examples such as Canberra in Australia, the New Town movement in the UK and US, and smaller settlements and suburbs in South Africa, France, Germany, Czech Republic, Brazil, Canada and many more…



Based on Clarence Perry’s famous Neighborhood Unit, Kaloleni, in Nairobi, was originally designed in 1927 (while Kenya was still under British colonial rule), to house 3000 bachelors in single-dwellings and duplexes.
According to Professor Peter Makachia of the Univeristy of Nairobi, the estate was developed following the recommendations of Sir Charles Mortimer, who chaired the Afri…can Housing Committee. When they were finally completed in 1948, these bungalows were gifted to African soldiers who fought for the British army in WWII.
As bachelor accommodations, the houses were appropriately small, with an entry space leading directly into a tiny kitchen and, with a turn, into the main living space. Directly through the living room is a bedroom just wide enough to accommodate a single-bed and small desk. As these bachelors quickly became family men, many residents added lean-tos and sheds to the back of their houses.
Even today, the streetscape is exactly the same as its original design, while extensions on the back provide more space for growing families. Because of the heavy materials used in their construction, these homes are well-insulated and comfortable—worlds away from the corrugated steel shanties that characterize most of Nairobi’s low-cost housing stock. Not unsurprisingly, these covetable houses have been passed down from generation to generation, giving this community an unbreakable sense of continuity—and ownership.
Kaloleni was built between 1945-48 by Italian prisoners of war. Although the designs had been around for some time, the Second World War stifled urban development in Nairobi. After the war came to an end, the POWs used imported materials, including roof tiles from India and large red bricks, to construct the well-crafted homes. If you squint, Kaloleni looks exactly the same as it did seventy years ago. And in a city where urban development is almost completely unregulated, that is a huge achievement.


Washington is a town in the City of Sunderland in Tyne and Wear, England.

Historically part of County Durham, it joined a new county in 1974 with the creation of Tyne and Wear. Washington is located geographically at an equal distance from the centres of Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland, hence it has close ties to all three cities.

Washington was designated a new town in 1964; it expanded dramatically, by the creation of new villages and the absorption of areas of Chester-le-Street, to house overspill population from surrounding cities.

Washington’s design was developed through the New Towns concept aiming to achieve sustainable socio-economic growth. The new town is divided into small self-sufficient “villages”. It was originally also divided into the 15 numbered districts, a fate that confused many visitors to the area.

Built on industry, Washington contains several industrial estates, named after famous local engineers, such as Parsons, Armstrong, Stephenson, Crowther, Pattinson, Swan and Emerson.

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Already a busy small town on the River Mersey – a crossing point since ancient times and a centre of some industrial expansion in the 19th century, Warrington was designated a new town in the third and final wave in 1968.

Consequently the town grew in size, with the Birchwood area being developed on a former munitions factory site.

Heavy industry declined in the 1970s and 1980s but its new town development made it resilient to the slump, and the growth of the new town led to a great increase in employment in light industry, distribution and technology.

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Telford New Town was first designated on 16 January 1963 as Dawley New Town, covering 9,100 acres (37 km2) of Dawley, Wenlock, Oakengates, Wellington Rural District and Shifnal Rural District.

Development started, guided by the Dawley New Town Development Corporation, with the first homes on the new Sutton Hill housing estate being occupied in 1967. Initial planning and design concepts for Dawley New Town were produced by the Birmingham-based John Madin Design Group.

An extension of 12,000 acres (49 km2) was proposed in 1968 (taking in the historic area of Ironbridge Gorge), which saw objections and a public inquiry take place. The Dawley New Town (Designation) Amendment (Telford) Order was made on 29 November 1968, extending the New Town area by 10,143 acres (41.05 km2) of “land lying within the urban districts of Oakengates and Wellington and the rural districts of Shifnal and Wellington”.

This Order also renamed the new town Telford, after the Scottish-born civil engineer Thomas Telford who, in 1787, became Surveyor of Public Works for Shropshire. Other suggested names at the time were Dawelloak and Wrekin Forest City.

Most of the infrastructure was constructed from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s with the major housing and commercial development occurring over three decades up to the early 1990s when the Development Corporation was wound up to be replaced by Commission for the New Towns, later English Partnerships, and most of the property was handed over to the then Wrekin District Council.

In 1983, after fierce opposition and three public enquiries, the M54 motorway was completed, connecting the town to the M6 and thence the rest of the UK’s motorway network. Other major roads are the A5, A518 and A442, which is commonly known as the Eastern Primary or EP, and is officially branded Queensway.

Many of the new town’s residents were originally from the West Midlands conurbation, which includes Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Dudley and Walsall. The vast majority of the council house tenants in Telford were rehoused from inner city slums in Birmingham. Some controversy and bad feeling still exists in some communities as a result of what some saw as the influx of those from the city slums. The name “overspill” was often used as a derogatory term for these residents.

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Skelmersdale was designated a New Town in 1961, designed to house overspill population from the Liverpool and north Merseyside conurbation. It was the first of the second wave of New Towns to be built.

2006 was to see a regeneration drive for the town coordinated through English Partnerships and the Northwest Regional Development Agency and publicly headed by the designer Wayne Hemingway.[7] Among the proposals was a new central focus for the entertainment and commerce for the town in the evening.

In 2012 a £20m vision to create a thriving town centre for Skelmersdale and up to 500 permanent jobs has been revealed. Proposals include a new food store, bars, shops and restaurants and bringing a five-screen cinema to the town. A new promenade would be fronted by bars and restaurants which would overlook Tawd Valley Park. A new civic square will also be formed between the concourse and the library. About 100 more jobs would be created in the scheme’s construction. Regeneration specialists St Modwen have been working on the proposals with West Lancashire Council and the Homes and Communities Agency.

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Runcorn new town was in actual fact an extension built to the east of the existing town of Runcorn, in the 1960s and 1970s.
The designation of Runcorn as a new town in 1964 brought major changes and more than doubled the population. Much of the architecture of the new town was innovative, especially the Southgate development designed by Sir James Stirling and built between 1970 and 1977. Stirling’s housing development was beset with problems and it was demolished in the early 1990s.

During the second half of the 20th century the tanneries closed (the last to close was the Highfield Tannery in the late 1960s) and the chemical industry declined. At the same time, light industry developed together with warehouses and distribution centres.

When plans for Runcorn New Town were drawn up, they included three distinct types of road: local roads, expressways and the Busway. The expressways are intended to keep all through traffic off the local roads. The Busway is a system of roads for use by buses only, and bears no resemblance to guided busways or bus lanes in use elsewhere, as it is a totally separate road system, not running alongside (or down the middle of) existing roads.

In addition, there is a network of dedicated cycleways in the town.


Redditch was designated a new town in 1964, approximately 15 miles (24 km) south of Birmingham.
In the 19th century it became the international centre for the needle and fishing tackle industry. At one point 90% of the world’s needles were manufactured in the town and its neighbourhoods.

In the 1960s it became a model for modern new town planning, when it was designated as a new town and its population increased dramatically from 32,000 to around 77,000.

Housing developments such as Church Hill, Matchborough, Winyates, Lodge Park and Woodrow were created to accommodate the large overspill from an industrially expanding Birmingham. Redditch was built as a ‘flagship’ town using new methods and new town planning; all the main roads (mostly new dual carriageways as well as a ring road for the town centre) in Redditch were banked to reduce noise to the new housing estates and the whole of Redditch was landscaped.

By the 21st century needle-making and other traditional industries had been replaced by modern light industry and services, with Redditch also functioning as a dormitory town for Birmingham. The automotive retailer Halfords and engineering giant GKN both have their headquarters in Redditch. Manufacturer of precious metal contacts Samuel Taylor Ltd has manufacturing plants within the town.

Following the redevelopment of the flagship Kingfisher Shopping Centre in 2002 Redditch is undergoing an economic and cultural renaissance.

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Peterlee, County Durham

Founded in 1948, Peterlee, in County Durham, is one of the smallest of the towns built under the New Towns Act of 1946, and originally mostly housed coal miners and their families.

The case for Peterlee was put forth vigorously in a paper titled ‘Farewell Squalor’ by Easington Rural District Council Surveyor C.W. Clarke, who also proposed that the town was named after the celebrated Durham miners’ leader Peter Lee.

Peterlee is unique among the new towns which came into being after the Second World War in that it was the only one requested by the people through their MP – though whether a majority of the people living in the surrounding colliery villages actually wanted it to be built is disputable.

A deputation, mostly if not all working miners, met with the Minister of Town and Country Planning after the Second World War to put the case for a new town in the district. The minister John Silkin responded by offering a half size new town of 30,000 residents. Subsequently, they came largely from the surrounding villages in the District of Easington.

It has been argued that the building of Peterlee was at the expense of nearby colliery villages such as Shotton Colliery, Wingate, Thornley and Wheatley Hill where development was deliberately suppressed by the local council in favour of the new town. The colliery village of Horden, however, suffered more; its proximity to Peterlee saw it lose all of its major services including police and fire stations to the new town.

The Peterlee Development Corporation was established in 1948, under the direction of A V Williams. The original ambitious master-plan for towering blocks of flats by Berthold Lubetkin was rejected as unsuitable for the geology of the area which had been weakened by mining works and he resigned in 1950.

George Grenfell Baines replaced Lubetkin and began to build quickly, resulting in buildings of poor quality construction. In a bold move Williams invited an artist Victor Pasmore to be head of the design team for the landscaping.

The Apollo Pavilion,designed by Pasmore, was completed in 1970. It provided a focal point for the Sunny Blunts estate as well as a bridge across a water-course. It was named after the Apollo moon missions of the late 1960s.

From the late seventies the Pavilion became a target for vandals and anti-social behaviour. Original murals on the building faded and to discourage anti-social behaviour staircases were removed in the 1980s.

In 1996, there was a failed attempt to list the Pavilion. English Heritage described it as “an internationally important masterpiece”. However, some local residents and councillors saw Pavilion as an eyesore and campaigned to have it demolished. That campaign appeared to have been successful when demolition was proposed in 2000. However, in July 2009, a 6-month revamp programme was completed at a cost of £400,000. As part of the revamp original features such as the murals and stairs reinstated. In December 2011 English Heritage gave the pavilion a Grade-II* listing

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Designated a New Town in 1967, Peterborough Development Corporation was formed in partnership with the city and county councils to house London’s overspill population in new townships sited around the existing urban area.

There were to be four townships, one each at Bretton, Orton, Paston/Werrington and Castor. The last of these was never built, but a fourth, called Hampton, is now taking shape south of the city.

It was decided that the city should have a major indoor shopping centre at its heart. Planning permission was received in late summer 1976 and Queensgate, containing over 90 stores and including parking for 2,300 cars, was opened by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands in 1982.

34 miles (55 km) of urban roads were planned and a network of high-speed roads, known as parkways, was constructed.

Peterborough’s population grew by 45.4% between 1971 and 1991. New service-sector companies like Thomas Cook and Pearl Assurance were attracted to the city, ending the dominance of the manufacturing industry as employers.

An urban regeneration company named Opportunity Peterborough, under the chairmanship of Lord Mawhinney, was set up by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in 2005 to oversee Peterborough’s future development. Between 2006 and 2012 a £1 billion redevelopment of the city centre and surrounding areas was planned. The master plan provides guidelines on the physical shaping of the city centre over the next 15–20 years. Proposals are still progressing for the north of Westgate, the south bank and the station quarter, where Network Rail is preparing a major mixed use development.

Whilst recognising that the reconfiguration of the relationship between the city and station was critical, English Heritage found the current plans for Westgate unconvincing and felt more thought should be given to the vitality of the historic core.

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Northampton changed vastly after the Second World War. In 1959, the M1 motorway was opened to the south-west of the town, and in 1968 it was designated a New Town. Both these events and the rail link helped Northampton’s growth as a commuter town for London.

The Northampton Development Corporation (NDC) was set up in 1968 to substantially redevelop the town in partnership with the local council and work started on new housing and industrial estates, initially to the east and south the town centre mainly to accommodate the overflow population of new residents from the London area. In the town centre, older buildings were demolished and replaced or redeveloped for other buildings, including Greyfriars bus station, the Grosvenor Shopping Centre, Peacock Place (now Market Walk), shops, flats and hotels. Although growth was slower than planned, the population grew from 105,421 in 1961 to 157,217 by 1981.

When the NDC wound up in 1985 after 20 years, another 20,000 homes and 40,000 residents had been added to the town. Northampton was reconstituted as a non-metropolitan district which also covered areas outside the former borough boundaries but inside the designated New Town.

Since the turn of the Millennium, Northampton has continued to expand. In 2006, Northampton became a government expansion zone with new growth promoted by West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC), an unelected quango, which has initiated a series of regeneration schemes across the town.

Some have been completed, including the opening of the Radlands Plaza Northampton Skatepark and the development of Becket’s Park Marina just south of Northampton’s town centre as well as the improvement of the town’s Market Square.
Current projects include the building of a new bus interchange, redevelopment of the current railway station, improvement of Northampton’s waterside and renovation of the Grosvenor Shopping Centre

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The town was designated in 1967 as part of the second wave of New Towns.

It has seen a large population growth as companies and people have settled, changing its rural market town character, although its population remains only around 13,000.

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Throughout China, Garden City principles are being applied to brand new cities, including at Tianfu New Area in Chengdu.

Since 2013, Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation, together with UCL, and the winners of the Wolfson prize, UrbEd, have been working to help Chengdu capture the benefits of the Garden City model.


Livingston was built as part of the New Towns Act of 1946, in part to ease overcrowding in Glasgow. It was designated as a New Town on 16 April 1962, as part of the second wave of UK New Towns.

Three villages (Livingston Village and Livingston Station in the old parish of Livingston and Bellsquarry in the parish of Mid Calder) and numerous farmsteads remain islands of old buildings within the new developments.

In order to build, manage and promote Livingston a quango organisation was formed, the Livingston Development Corporation. The corporation guided Livingston until its mandate expired on 22 March 1997 and the town was transferred to West Lothian Council.

Construction in Livingston has continued under the management of West Lothian Council. A new purpose built campus for West Lothian College and other major developments have also taken place in Livingston over the last 10 years.

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Unlike most new towns which were either completely newly built or based around small villages, Irvine was already a sizeable town which had been a Royal Burgh since 1372.

A quango, the Irvine Development Corporation (IDC), was set up in the 1960s to oversee the development of Irvine as a ‘new town’. The organisation was given the planning powers of the Royal Burgh of Irvine Town Council, Kilwinning Town Council and the Irvine Landward District Council. This involved massive and sometimes controversial development of the old parts of the town.

Irvine was officially designated as a “New Town” in 1966, the fifth and last to be developed in Scotland and the only ‘new town’ to be located on the coast.

IDC was widely criticised for some of their actions including the demolition of large swathes of the Fullarton part of the town, the Bridge and most of Bridgegate in 1972 and 1973. One positive development of IDC’s was the Irvine Beach Park from 1975 and the Magnum Leisure Centre opened in 1976. This area, behind the harbour had been largely industrial wasteland for many years and was regarded as an eyesore. The area was developed with vast amounts of greenery making it a pleasant place to walk. IDC and the Urban Regeneration Company have plans to redevelop much of the waterfront area. Surrounding towns and villages along the coastline are included in a number of the regeneration proposals.

The provisions of The New Town (Irvine) Winding Up Order 1993 officially ended the New Town Designation on 31 December 1996. This marked the end of the Irvine Development Corporation and the return of full planning control of the area back to the local authority.

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Hemel Hempstead

After World War II, in 1946, the government designated Hemel Hempstead as the site of one of its proposed New Towns designed to house the population displaced by the London Blitz, since slums and bombsites were being cleared in London.

On 4 February 1947, the Government purchased 5,910 acres (23.9 km2) of land and began work on the New Town. The first new residents moved in during April 1949, and the town continued its planned expansion through to the end of the 1980s. Hemel grew to its present population of 80,000, with new developments enveloping the original town on all sides. The original part of Hemel is still known as the “Old Town”.
Hemel Hempstead was announced as candidate No 3 for a New Town in July 1946, in accordance with the government’s “policy for the decentralisation of persons and industry from London”. Initially there was much resistance and hostility to the plan from locals, especially when it was revealed that any development would be carried out not by the local council but by a newly appointed government body, the Hemel Hempstead Development Corporation (later amalgamated with similar bodies to form the Commission for New Towns). However, following a public inquiry the following year, the town got the go-ahead. Hemel officially became a New Town on 4 February 1947.

The initial plans for the New Town were drawn up by architect Geoffrey Jellicoe. His view of Hemel Hempstead, he said, was “not a city in a garden, but a city in a park.” However, the plans were not well received by most locals. Revised, and less radical plans were drawn up, and the first developments proceeded despite local protests in July 1948. The first area to be developed was Adeyfield. The first houses erected as part of the New Town plan were in Longlands, Adeyfield, and went up in the spring of 1949. The first new residents moved in early 1950.

The redevelopment of the town centre was started in 1952, with a new centre based on Marlowes south of the old town. This was alongside a green area called the Water Gardens, designed by Jellicoe, formed by ponding back the River Gade. The old centre of the High Street was to remain largely undeveloped, though the market square closed and was replaced by a much larger one in the new centre. The former private estate of Gadebridge was opened up as a public park. New schools and roads were built to serve the expanding new neighbourhoods. New housing technology such as prefabrication started to be used from the mid-50s, and house building rates increased dramatically.

The M1 motorway opened to the east in 1959, and a new road connecting it to the town was opened.
By 1962, the redevelopment of the new town as originally envisaged was largely complete, though further expansion plans were then put forward. A campus of West Herts College, the library, new Police station and the Pavilion (theatre and music venue) were all built during the 1960s. The last of the originally-planned neighbourhoods, Grovehill, began construction in 1967. However, further neighbourhoods of Woodhall Farm and Fields End were later built as part of the extended plans.

Like other first generation new towns, Hemel is divided into residential neighbourhoods, each with their own “village centre” with shops, pubs and services. Each neighbourhood is designed around a few major feeder roads with many smaller cul-de-sacs and crescents, intended to minimise traffic and noise nuisance.
In keeping with the optimism of the early postwar years, much of the town features modernist architecture with many unusual and experimental designs for housing. Not all of these have stood the test of time.

A significant issue was how to choose names for all the new roads. Many areas of the new town used themes e.g. fields, birds, rivers, poets, explorers, leaders, etc.

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Planned in the late 1940s as one of Scotland’s post-second world war new towns, its original purpose was to house miners who were to work at a newly established coal mine, the Rothes Colliery.
Following the failure of the mine the town developed as an important industrial centre in Scotland’s Silicon Glen between 1961 and 2000 with several major electronics and hi-tech companies setting up facilities in the town.

The Glenrothes Development Corporation (GDC), a non-departmental public body, was established to develop, manage and promote the new town. The GDC supported by the local authority oversaw the governance of Glenrothes until the wind-up of the GDC in 1995, after which all responsibility was transferred to Fife Council.

Manufacturing and engineering industries, public services and service industries are particularly important to the town’s economy. Major employers include Adam Smith College (education), Bosch Rexroth (hydraulics manufacturing), Brand Rex (fibre optics manufacturing), Raytheon (defence and electronics) and Tullis Russell (papermakers).[3]

Glenrothes is unique in Fife as the majority of the town’s centre is contained indoors, within Fife’s largest indoor shopping centre, the Kingdom Shopping Centre.

The town has won multiple horticultural awards in the “Beautiful Scotland” and “Britain in Bloom” contests for the quality of its parks and landscaping. It has numerous outdoor sculptures and artworks, a result of the appointment of town artists in the early development of the town.

Public facilities include a sports centre, two golf courses, a civic centre and theatre, a cinema and a college campus.

A major bus station is located in the town centre providing regional and local bus services to surrounding settlements. The A92 trunk road provides the principal access to the town passing through Glenrothes and connecting it to the wider Scottish motorway and trunk road network.

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East Kilbride

East Kilbride was designated as Scotland’s first New Town in 1947.

The area was previously the site of the small village of East Kilbride, prior to this post-war development. It is a dormitory town for the city of Glasgow but also maintains its own commercial centre.

After the Second World War, Glasgow, already suffering from chronic shortages of housing, had to deal with bomb damage from the war. In 1946 the Clyde Valley Regional Plan allocated sites where overspill satellite “new towns” could be constructed to help alleviate the housing shortage. Glasgow would also undertake the development of its peripheral housing estates.

East Kilbride was the first of five new towns in Scotland to be designated, in 1947, followed by Glenrothes (1948), Cumbernauld (1956), Livingston (1962) and Irvine (1964).

The town has been subdivided into residential precincts, each with its own local shops, primary schools and community facilities. The housing precincts surround the shopping centre, which is bound by a ringroad. Industrial estates are concentrated at sites to the north, west and south, on the outskirts of the town.

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Following the passing of the 1946 New Towns’ Act, ministries and county councils were asked to nominate sites. For Wales, the Ministry of Housing and Local Government proposed Church Village and Cwmbran. The Church Village proposal was vetoed by the Ministry of Power as new housing there would have interfered with plans for the expansion of coalmining in the area; however, Cwmbran was passed in 1949.

Built in the late 1950s the New Town Centre hosts a main bus station, supermarkets, small commercial units and a cinema. Over a period of 30 years the shopping centre was extended and refurbished several times.

The longest established employer in Cwmbran is biscuit maker Burton’s Foods, who employ 1000 people to make its Jammie Dodgers and Wagon Wheels biscuits (the Cwmbran plant produces over 400 million Wagon Wheels a year).

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After the Second World War Glasgow was suffering from chronic shortages of housing and poor housing conditions, particularly in areas such as the Gorbals. As a direct result the Clyde Valley Regional Plan 1946 allocated sites where satellite new towns were to be constructed to help alleviate the problem through an overspill agreement.[8] Glasgow would also undertake the development of its peripheral housing estates.

Cumbernauld was designated a new town in 1955, the third to be designated in Scotland. The others were East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Livingston and Irvine (Cowling 1997).

The development, promotion and management was undertaken, until 1996, by the Cumbernauld Development Corporation (CDC). This was a quango appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland (Cowling 1997).

Cumbernauld is the most clear example of a modernist new town vision in the UK. Housing was originally delivered through constructing a series of satellite neighbourhoods which were clustered around the hilltop town centre. Separation of people and cars was a major element of the first town masterplan and this was carried through for much of the development of the town. Cumbernauld pioneered designs for underpasses and pedestrian footbridges as well as segregated footpaths. Early neighbourhoods were designed by the CDC and were constructed at Kildrum, Cumbernauld Village, Seafar, North Carbrain and Greenfaulds. Other neighbourhoods were later developed at Condorrat, South Carbrain and Abronhill. Much of the housing of these areas won awards for their innovative designs.

During its construction, under the designer’s eye of Geoffrey Copcutt, Cumbernauld town centre’s daring megastructure architecture was highly praised. Architects, designers, town planners and students of many disciplines visited Cumbernauld from around the globe to marvel at the town, for many years heralded as a utopian construction.

When originally designated a New Town the target population was 50,000. In 1961, only five years after becoming a new town, the Area to the north of the A80 was included in the town’s area with new planned neighbourhoods at Balloch, Dullatur, Westerwood and Eastfield. As a result a revised target population of 70,000 was predicted.[10] However only now is the population starting to climb above 50,000, but this is expected to increase substantially with 2,100 houses being built between 2001 and 2008.

After the creation of the new town, diverse industries such as high-tech, electronics, and chemical and food processing became large employers, along with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The main industrial estates were developed to the east and west along the A80 at Castlecary, Wardpark and Westfield. Areas at Luggiebank and South Carbrain to the south of the town have also been developed for industry.

In 2002 Cumbernauld was voted worst town in Scotland but massively improved by winning most improved town in Scotland 2010.

The town centre was widely accepted as the UK’s first shopping centre and was the world’s first multi-level covered town centre.[9] However, the town never developed to its planned size, and the town centre has never had the life envisaged by town planners. Wealthy occupiers for the centre’s penthouses located within the “alien’s head” (as it has been dubbed by locals) never materialised and some now lie empty and derelict. Further expansion has been primarily to provide further space for shops. A substantial portion of the original Shopping Centre was demolished due to structural damage and has been redeveloped as a new shopping and leisure complex.

As well as the unfulfilled ambitions for the town, the passage of time has exposed serious defects in post-war concepts of centrally-planned retail and civic centres developed in the absence of proper community consultation or sensitivity to local environmental and economic conditions. This has been reflected in a country-wide backlash against modernist architecture in general. Cumbernauld’s Town Centre is widely regarded as one of the ugliest and least-loved examples of post-war design in Scotland. The confusing layout is an abiding source of frustration for both visitors and residents, many of whom are the descendants of skilled workers who aspired to escape the frequently appalling social and housing conditions of the Glasgow conurbation in the 1960s and 70s.

Despite its bad press, from a purely aesthetic standpoint Cumbernauld is regarded as representing a significant moment in town design, and in 1993 it was listed as one of the sixty key monuments of post-war architecture by the international conservation organisation DoCoMoMo.

Cumbernauld was the location for the 1981 film Gregory’s Girl.

The residential structure of Cumbernauld is noteworthy in that there were no pedestrian crossings, i.e. zebra or pelican crossings — pedestrians originally traversed roads by bridge or underpass (although ). This has led to the perception that the town is car-centric, and difficult to navigate by foot.

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In May 1946, the New Towns Act of 1946 identified Crawley as a suitable location for a New Town; but it was not officially designated as such until 9 January 1947.

The 5,920 acres (2,396 ha) of land set aside for the new town were split across the county borders between East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey.

Architect Thomas Bennett was appointed chairman of Crawley Development Corporation. A court challenge to the designation order meant that plans were not officially confirmed until December 1947. By this time, an initial plan for the development of the area had been drawn up by Anthony Minoprio. This proposed filling in the gaps between the villages of Crawley, Ifield and Three Bridges. Bennett estimated that planning, designing and building the town, and increasing its population from the existing 9,500 to 40,000, would take 15 years.

Work began almost immediately to prepare for the expansion of the town. A full master plan was in place by 1949. This envisaged an increase in the population of the town to 50,000, residential properties in nine neighbourhoods radiating from the town centre, and a separate industrial area to the north. The neighbourhoods would consist mainly of three-bedroom family homes, with a number of smaller and larger properties. Each would be built around a centre with shops, a church, a public house, a primary school and a community centre. Secondary education was to be provided at campuses at Ifield Green, Three Bridges and Tilgate. Later, a fourth campus, in Southgate, was added to the plans.
At first, little development took place in the town centre, and residents relied on the shops and services in the existing high street. The earliest progress was in West Green, where new residents moved in during the late 1940s. In 1950 the town was visited by the then heir to the throne, Princess Elizabeth, when she officially opened the Manor Royal industrial area. Building work continued throughout the 1950s in West Green, Northgate and Three Bridges, and later in Langley Green, Pound Hill and Ifield. In 1956, land at “Tilgate East” was allocated for housing use, eventually becoming the new neighbourhood of Furnace Green.

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Expectations of the eventual population of the town were revised upwards several times. The 1949 master plan had allowed for 50,000 people, but this was amended to 55,000 in 1956 after the Development Corporation had successfully resisted pressure from the Minister for Town and Country Planning to accommodate 60,000. Nevertheless, plans dated 1961 anticipated growth to 70,000 by 1980, and by 1969 consideration was given to an eventual expansion of up to 120,000.

Extended shopping facilities to the east of the existing high street were provided. The first stage to open was The Broadwalk in 1954, following by the opening of the Queen’s Square development by Her Majesty The Queen in 1958. Crawley railway station was moved eastwards towards the new development.

By April 1960, when Thomas Bennett made his last presentation as chairman of the Development Corporation, the town’s population had reached 51,700; 2,289,000 square feet (212,700 m2) of factory and other industrial space had been provided; 21,800 people were employed, nearly 60% of whom worked in manufacturing industry; and only seventy people were registered as unemployed. The corporation had built 10,254 houses, and private builders provided around 1,500 more. Tenants were by then permitted to buy their houses, and 440 householders had chosen to do so by April 1960.

A new plan was put forward by West Sussex County Council in 1961. This proposed new neighbourhoods at Broadfield and Bewbush, both of which extended outside the administrative area of the then Urban District Council. Detailed plans were made for Broadfield in the late 1960s; by the early 1970s building work had begun. Further expansion at Bewbush was begun in 1974, although development there was slow. The two neighbourhoods were both larger than the original nine: together, their proposed population was 23,000. Work also took place in the area now known as Ifield West on the western fringes of the town.

By 1980, the council identified land at Maidenbower, south of the Pound Hill neighbourhood, as being suitable for another new neighbourhood, and work began in 1986. However, all of this development was undertaken privately, unlike the earlier neighbourhoods in which most of the housing was owned by the council.


In 1950, with a population of 18,000, Corby was designated a New Town with William Holford as its architect. By 1951, he prepared the development plan with a car-friendly layout and many areas of open space and woodland.

In 1952, Holford produced the town centre plan and in 1954 the layout for the first 500 houses, with new citizens arriving mainly from Scotland, working in the local steel plant.

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Bracknell was designated a new town in 1949. The site was originally a village in the civil parish of Warfield in the Easthampstead Rural District. Very little of the original Bracknell is left. The location was preferred to White Waltham, which was also considered, because the Bracknell site avoided encroaching on good quality agricultural land. It also had the additional advantage of being on a railway line.

The new town was planned for 25,000 people; it was intended to occupy over 1,000 hectares (about 6 square miles) of land in and around ‘Old Bracknell’ in the area now occupied by Priestwood, Easthampstead, Bullbrook and Harman’s Water. The existing town centre and industrial areas were to be retained with new industry brought in to provide jobs.
However, the town has since expanded far beyond its intended size into farmland to the south, and major expansion is now, as of 2008, under way (Jennett’s Park) to the west of the town at Peacock Farm and The Parks on the site of the former RAF Staff College.[7]

The town centre is a 1960s design, and considered by many to be in need of a major refurbishment. The Borough Council is working in partnership with the Bracknell Regeneration Partnership (Legal & General and Schroders) to regenerate the town centre with new shops and facilities.

At the heart of most of Bracknell’s neighbourhoods were a church, a small parade of shops, a primary school, a community centre and a pub. The neighbourhoods varied in population from 3,000 to 9,000. The plans included pedestrianisation, the construction of a ring road, and segregation of industrial areas from residential areas.

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Basildon was created as a new town in 1948 to accommodate the London population overspill, from the conglomeration of four small villages, namely Pitsea, Laindon, Basildon and Vange. The new town took the name Basildon as it was the most central of the four.

The local government district of Basildon, formed in 1974 and encapsulates a larger area than the town itself; the two neighbouring towns of Billericay and Wickford, as well as rural villages and smaller settlements set among the surrounding countryside, fall within its borders.

Basildon Town is one of the most densely populated areas in the county.

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Newton Aycliffe

In 1942, William Beveridge drew up his famous report which ultimately led to the formation of the Welfare State – comprising Social Security benefits, a National Health Service, council housing, free education and full employment.
When he was drawing up his plan he had one specific area in mind – the Moors between Aycliffe and Middridge in County Durham, which had housed significant factories during the war, and which Beveridge thought could be the shining example of how the ‘new world’ of post-war Britain would work. There was a huge industrial site and plenty of farmland to build on. Indeed, Beveridge even came to live in Aycliffe, in a house on Pease Way.

The factories were eventually replaced by manufacturing buildings that became the industrial district of Aycliffe. After the war many companies moved onto the industrial estate, including Great Lakes Chemicals, which retained the munitions factories until 2004 when it was closed and demolished, along with these original factories used by the Aycliffe Angels. Also there were Eaton Axles, and B.I.P., who were to become two of the largest employers of the town until the early 1980s. One other company was Union Carbide. Eaton Axles closed down and shipped itself to Poland, B.I.P. is now Hydro Polymers, Union Carbide was taken over by STC (Standard Telephone and Cables) before being taken over by Sanyo for several years, but this has now closed. Businesses currently located in the town include Flymo, 3M and Ineos (who have taken over Hydro Polymers) with many more small factory units.

From its start Newton Aycliffe kept expanding in size, until 1980 when the council stopped building council homes. Since then private houses and housing associations have been building the town’s homes.

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Stocksbridge Garden Village

Stocksbridge Garden Village, near Sheffield. was developed in the early 1900s to house an influx of workers at the Stocksbridge Steel Works.

It was influenced both by Howard’s book and the fledgling Garden City Movement and also by previous industrial towns & villages like Port Sunlight and Saltaire.


The charming district in and around Rothley, just sufficiently far out to escape the unpleasant conditions of a crowded manufacturing centre, but near enough to meet the requirements and desires of the jaded town worker for quiet country life.

This booklet then gives details of the beauty spots and history of Rothley, local facilities and rail links. The cost of a Train Season Ticket from Leicester and Loughborough is only £5.0.0. per annum Third Class and £7 1s 9d First Class.

There are floor plans of the properties available and cost. A small house (with 5 bedrooms) with brick mullioned windows, steel casements and leaded lights. Approximate cost £695.0.0 with a quarter of an acre of land.

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Rhiwbina Garden Suburb was formed in 1912 with the acquisition of 107 acres to the north of Cardiff. The development was based on a masterplan produced by Raymond Unwin.

The first 34 houses were built in 1913 and more were built from 1919 to 1923. The area was subsequently expanded with further residential properties in the 1950s and 60s.

189 houses were built in total and the Garden Village was designated as a Conservation Area in 1976.

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Penkhull Garden City

Founded in 1910 and influenced by the Garden City Movement, the smog-ridden Potteries area was crying out for such a development.

However, the village was not intended for local workers, but was driven by and aimed at the middle classes. With the support of local civic dignitaries, and the national Co-Partnership Tenants Ltd, Stoke-on-Trent Tenant Ltd was launched.

They garnered the support and expertise of Barry Parker, who worked alongside local architects W. Campbell and Sons of Hanley, who went on to build the development, initially of 95 houses with further development in 1939.

The site selected was on an elevated spot south of the centre of Penkhull, and the estate was carefully planned to ensure that the prevailing wind blew the smoke from the nearby factories away from the village.

Rustic-style houses were arranged in clusters around greens. Some social provision was made through a small institute and tennis courts & bowling green along with allotments.

Penkhull Garden Village was actually planned to have been the first of four such suburbs arranged in a circle around the Potteries, but no further developments took place.

In 2007 Penkhull Garden Village was designated a Conservation Area by Stoke-on-Trent City Council following a long campaign by the village’s residents.

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New Earswick, York

New Earswick was a model village for workers at the Rowntree chocolate factory just outside York.

Although it began in 1901, two years before Letchworth Garden City, it grew and developed at the same time as the first Garden City, and was strongly influenced by the Garden City Movement, with which Joseph and Seebohm Rowntree were intimately acquainted.

It is also where Parker & Unwin developed many of their Garden City design ideas. Indeed, their master plan for New Earswick may well have brought to the attention of Howard and the Garden City Association.

The village was built from the very ground it stands on: the bricks were made in the brickworks on the outskirts of New Earswick.

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Humberstone Garden Village

The development of Humberstone Garden Village was based on the principles of the Garden city movement.

The Humberstone Garden Village is notable because it is the only time that a UK workers co-operative created a housing cooperative and built a housing estate for its members.

The Anchor Tenants housing Association was formed in 1887 by the workers cooperative of the Anchor Boot and Shoe Co-operative Society which was a co-operatively run boot and shoe works in Asforby Street Leicestershire.

The members of the cooperative contributed a percentage of their wages and bought a block of land just outside Leicester by the village of Humberstone, and they built 97 houses.

The first houses were in use by 1908 and the Anchor employees were let houses by the association at a rent that was collected to cover the upkeep of the properties.

Hull Garden Village

The Garden Village is an area of model village housing built in the early 1900s, in the Summergangs area of Kingston upon Hull, England, for the workers of Reckitt & Sons.

The village was built on 140 acres (57 ha) of land by the ‘Hull Garden Village Co.’, a company with £200,000 of capital of which two thirds was contributed by Sir James Reckitt, and with two thirds of the housing reserved for his workers. The company’s dividends were limited to 3%.

Opened in 1908, the estate was designed by architects Percy Runton and William Barry.
Its design was influenced by the ideas of the Garden city movement. Perhaps Sir James Reckitt was influenced by his sister, Juliet, who was already a leading light at Letchworth Garden City, founding the Howgills Society of Friends Meeting House and the Girls Club, both in 1907.

By 1913, 600 houses had been built in five sizes and with twelve different styles, generally with a short front garden and long back garden, often accessed by a ‘ten foot’ alley, a low housing density, built of brick often pebble dashed, with steeply pitched roofs with overhanging eaves, recessed doorways and wood framed windows, privet hedges, and avenued tree planting generalising the design. A second phase of development began in 1923.

Houses were built at a density of 12 per acre; 1 acre (0.0040 km2), with streets named after trees and shrubs. Facilities included a shopping centre, club house, a hostel for female workers, as well as several almshouses, several of which are now listed buildings. A substantial number of the ordinary housing stock are now also listed buildings.

During the Hull Blitz the area was badly damaged by bombing, possibly due to its proximity to Reckitt & Sons’ Dansom Lane works.

In 1950 the Garden Village company was disbanded; some houses were sold to tenants, the entire estate was bought by the Bradford Property Trust, the open spaces known as ‘The Oval’ and ‘The Playground’ were transferred to the Hull City Council for a nominal fee.

The area became a designated conservation area in 1970.

Harrow Garden Village

Harrow Garden Village was a housing development in the 1930s around Rayners Lane tube station in London, England, which until then had been a “country halt” on the Metropolitan Line. This was Metro-land’s flagship development, begun in by E S Reid, with streets full of semi-detached houses fronted with bay windows and tiled roofs.

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Garden Village, Dursley

Burnage Garden Village

Burnage Garden Village (really a Garden Suburb) was created in 1906 when the newly-formed Manchester Tenants Association built many new semi-detached houses. The development was laid out along Garden City lines by J Horner Hargreaves.  and included many open recreational spaces, including lawns, gardens, a bowling green, tennis courts, allotments and a children’s playground.

Wavertree Garden Suburb, Liverpool

Wavertree Garden Suburb

Wavertree Garden Suburb – or the Liverpool Garden Suburb as it was originally called – was one of about 20 or so similar developments planned and built up and down the country in the decade prior to the First World War. It was a co-partnership housing scheme: the houses being owned neither individually nor by a profit-seeking private landlord.

The owner of the whole estate was a company called Liverpool Garden Suburb Tenants Ltd, in which the tenants of the houses were themselves shareholders. Shares could also be purchased by outsiders, the annual dividend generally being limited to 5 per cent. Since the tenants had a financial interest in the estate, it was assumed that repair costs would be kept down, and investment in the company would literally be ‘as safe as houses’.

There was a touch of crusading zeal about the company. “The object”, said the initial prospectus, “is to provide a residential suburb for the people of Liverpool amid surroundings which conduce to both health and pleasure”. Its telegraphic address was ‘Antislum, Liverpool’. The intention was always to plough back a proportion of the profits to pay for the further expansion of the estate.

The idea of building a Garden Suburb here came not from Liverpool but from London. Henry Vivian – the first Chairman of Liverpool Garden Suburb Tenants Ltd – was also Chairman of Co-partnership Tenants Ltd, a London-based organisation dedicated to establishing Garden Suburbs all over the country. He was a carpenter by background; an active trade unionist who did not see why the ordinary working man should not share in the profits of house ownership. He set up the very first co-partnership housing scheme – Ealing Tenants Ltd – in west London in 1901, and by the time L.G.S.T. was established in 1910 there were 11 similar companies in operation in towns as diverse as Stoke-on-Trent, Keswick (Cumbria) and Sevenoaks (Kent).

The first houses on the Ealing estate were not ‘garden suburb’ type houses at all. They were red-brick terraces, very similar to the sort being built (by speculative individuals and companies) in Liverpool at that time. It was Vivian’s political friendship with Ralph Neville, Chairman of The First Garden City Company Ltd at Letchworth, that persuaded him to advocate low-density planning for all the subsequent co-partnership estates, including Wavertree. The overall density of the Wavertree estate was only 11 houses to the acre, rather than the 40 to the acre which was normal in Liverpool at the time.

The architecture of the Garden Suburb was strongly influenced by the cottage architecture of southern England. While the houses have certain features in common – like the small-paned windows – there are variations in design. The ‘monotony’ of traditional terraces was something the architects consciously strove to avoid. At the same time, building costs were kept down by purchasing bricks, tiles and windows in bulk, and transporting them to the various co-partnership estates around the country by rail.

In fact the bricks and tiles were manufactured (appropriately enough by a co-operative firm) in Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire, and it was Letchworth – founded in 1903 – that had set the architectural pattern for co-partnership housing schemes all over England.

Because of the similarity with Letchworth, many people referred to the Wavertree estate, in the early days, as a ‘Garden City’; but this was very definitely a misnomer. For true Garden Cities were the idea of a housing reformer called Ebenezer Howard. He had visited ‘model’ industrial villages like Cadbury’s Bournville (in Birmingham) and Lever’s Port Sunlight (on Merseyside) and been impressed by their spacious layout and wide range of social facilities. His dream was of a series of free-standing Garden Cities – combining the benefits of town and country, but the disadvantages of neither – where the residents would have not only decent houses to live in but also recreational facilities and a choice of employers close at hand.

In the event – largely owing to the difficulty of attracting firms away from the established centres of population – only two such Garden Cities were ever established: at Letchworth and Welwyn. But other reformers, including Henry Vivian, seized the chance to build ‘garden city type’ housing on the edge of existing towns and cities; leaving the residents to commute to work by bus, tram and train. Ebenezer Howard was not pleased; for suburban sprawl was the very thing which he had sought to avoid.

One of the key figures in the Garden Suburb movement was Raymond Unwin, the town planner responsible for the layout of Letchworth in 1904, and Hampstead Garden Suburb (probably the best-known example in England) in 1906. It was Unwin who laid out the first section of Wavertree Garden Suburb – north of Thingwall Road and west of Wavertree Nook Road – in 1910.

The early provision of recreational facilities was an important objective of most Garden Suburbs. Here at Wavertree, the ‘Town Planning Review’ was able to report, in October 1911, that: “A bowling green and two lawn tennis courts have been laid, and a gravel playground about half an acre in extent has been provided for the children and furnished with swings and see-saws”. The bowling green and tennis courts still exist today: hidden away between the houses in Thingwall Road and Nook Rise.

No.13 Wavertree Nook Road was the very first house to be built in the new Garden Suburb, and under the bay window you can see the foundation stone laid on 20th July 1910 by the Marchioness of Salisbury. The stonelaying ceremony was attended by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool and other prominent local personalities, who were treated to a programme of entertainment by the ‘Victorian Court Band’ and stirring speeches by Henry Vivian and others drawing attention to the wonderful Garden Suburb that was about to be created.

The Marchioness of Salisbury was, of course, the wife of Lord Salisbury, and he too spoke of his pride in being associated with the venture. It was the Marquess who had made the land available to Liverpool Garden Suburb Tenants on what were described as ‘favourable terms’. In all, 180 acres – sufficient for over 1,800 houses – had been promised, which would make this Garden Suburb the largest in the country. The area earmarked for development straddled the newly-opened Queens Drive – ‘Liverpool’s circumferential boulevard’ as it was described at the time – and extended almost as far as Broad Green station. Initially, though, it was just the 12 acres between Wavertree Nook Road and Southway which had been taken on a 999-year lease, and for which Raymond Unwin had planned the layout.

It was the ‘humdrum existence’ of most city residents – separated from their neighbours by tall brick walls – which inspired the designers of Garden Suburbs. “All gardens bordered by mature hedges; no ugly wooden fences” was still the proud boast when the houses were offered for sale to individuals in the 1930s.

In both Thingwall Road and Wavertree Nook Road – the meandering lines of which can be recognised on old maps – the Garden Suburb’s designers made a conscious effort to preserve the natural features intact. In Thingwall Road the wide grass verges were retained, and some of the houses were set back from the road to avoid the felling of existing trees.

Cottage-style housing set amid green surroundings was just one of the hallmarks of a Garden Suburb in the years leading up to the First World War. Another was the possession of an Institute; a place where the residents could socialise together, entertain and also educate themselves. Liverpool Garden Suburb Tenants had planned a large, purpose-designed Institute on Queens Drive; but although the foundation stone was laid in 1914 (roughly where St Francis Xavier’s School stands today) the building never materialised. Instead, this small sandstone building on Thingwall Road – converted out of a pair of cottages in 1912 for use as the Suburb’s ‘Temporary Club House’ – is still in use today.

The Institute was the meeting-place of clubs and societies such as the Billiards Club, the Choral Society, the Horticultural Society, the Juniors Club, the Magazine Club, the Parliamentary Debating Society and the Women’s Guild. It was the venue for concerts and plays, including – ‘The Thingwallian’ reported in 1914 – “the wonderful and weird production, entitled ‘The Suburb in 2001 AD’, in which play Messrs Mann and Faulkner appeared as the completely emancipated women of that period”! Henry Vivian and others gave lectures there, on the merits of Garden Suburb life. In addition the Institute was the meeting-place of the Tenants’ Council: a group of representatives elected street by street to pass on tenants’ views and complaints to the Board of Management.

Already, by the time the 200th house was completed in 1913, the fame of Wavertree Garden Suburb was spreading. Publications such as the ‘Town Planning Review’ – the journal of the Department of Civic Design at Liverpool University – and the national magazine ‘Co-partnership’ gave regular updates on the estate’s progress. In October 1913 ‘Co-partnership’ reported visits by two groups of Germans: town planners and members of a working-men’s association. At the end of a musical gathering at the Institute, speeches were made and translated, and the visitors “all leaped to their feet with military precision and gave three resounding Hochs! for their English friends”.

Such international get-togethers at the Institute was destined not to last. On 4th July 1914 – at the stonelaying ceremony on Queens Drive – the Lord Mayor of Liverpool said that “only in good homes, with good environment, could England produce sons and daughters with the physical and mental qualities necessary for the maintenance a great Imperial race”. Exactly one month later, Britain and Germany were at war.

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Swanpool Garden Suburb, Lincoln UK

Sutton Garden Suburb

The development of Sutton Garden Suburb was begun in 1912. Inspired by the principles of Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement, it was originally planned to provide a thousand houses on a large area of farmland to the north of Sutton town centre. Like so many of that generation’s hopes and dreams, though, its progress was cut short by the intervention of the First World War. Building work was curtailed and had to be suspended altogether in 1915 owing to the wartime embargo introduced by the Government.

The original master plan for the Suburb showed an area imaginatively laid out with gently curving roads, wooded areas, houses built around greens, and, as a central feature, an area for ‘public buildings’ adjacent to a large recreation ground with a club house/community centre. The sole architect for the scheme was Frederic Cavendish Pearson, who had previously worked with Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker on Brentham Garden Suburb in Ealing. The houses, built in the vernacular revival style, would be made available at affordable rents to people of primarily modest means who wished to enjoy this leafy environment. The main sponsor of the project was local philanthropist Thomas Wall (of ice cream and sausages fame).

Because of adverse financial realities, further development of the Garden Suburb was not able to be resumed after the War. The total number of houses ultimately completed in accordance with the original plans eventually totalled eighty six. The remaining plots and land were sold off to local builders in the 1920/30s. Pearson continued to live in the Suburb and undertook further work there on a number of individual commissions. From the 1930s, the area was absorbed into the progressive expansion of the residential development of north Sutton (limited by the establishment of Rose Hill Park) and began to lose some of its character. From the 1970s onwards, however, there was a growing realisation by the residents and the Council that, in the Sutton Garden Suburb, there was a piece of social history and local heritage that was well worth protecting, maintaining and enhancing. This resulted in its designation, first as an Area of Special Local Character and then, in 1989, as a Conservation Area.

The Sutton Garden Suburb Residents’ Association was formed in 1998 in response to continuing threats from unwelcome development. Its first major campaign, and success, was to stop house-builders Wimpey from developing the former recreation ground/allotment site in the heart of the Suburb. Since then the Council has adopted a number of measures to strengthen the protection of the area, including the establishment of a Conservation Area Management Plan. All the original houses are also subject to ‘Article 4′ planning restrictions. Working with the Residents’ Association, the Council has recently supported a number of public realm enhancement projects aimed at restoring character and improving visual amenity.

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Rosyth Garden City

For much of the latter half of the 20th Century, the fact that Rosyth was created as a Garden City had largely faded from the public consciousness. Prior to that, the words “Rosyth Garden City” were routinely included in postal addresses in the same way as Welwyn and Letchworth but gradually this practice fell into disuse.

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So how did Rosyth come to be built on Garden City lines? At the beginning of the 20th Century, the Government were seeking to establish a new Royal Naval Dockyard on the east coast. The existing Dockyards were mainly along the south coast of England away from the North Sea which was the most likely area of conflict with the German Fleet. Various sites were considered including the Humber and the Cromarty Firth but the choice fell on St Margaret’s Hope in the River Forth. The work of building the Dockyard began in 1909. There was no town of Rosyth and the men working on the construction of the Dockyard (many of them navvies) had to find lodgings in the neighbouring communities of Limekilns, Charlestown, Inverkeithing and Dunfermline. A number of model lodging houses were built in these communities to cope with the demand. In 1913, a hut village was constructed at Hilton Road close to the Dockyard. The huts were made of corrugated iron and were known as Tin Town.

The lodging houses and huts sufficed for those building the Dockyard but there was a need for permanent housing for the men who would be working in the Dockyard and their families. The Admiralty had bought sufficient land for this purpose but were reluctant to take on this role. At that time the Garden City Movement was growing following the publication of a book “Garden Cities of Tomorrow” in 1902. The author, Ebenezer Howard, was deeply concerned about social issues. He believed that “if each man could have his own house, a large garden to cultivate and healthy surroundings then …there would be for them a better opportunity of a happy family life”. Howard’s design adopted a low-density approach. His Garden Cities were characterised by their unity of design and purpose. Houses were to have their own front and back gardens: there were to be shopping centres, libraries, reading rooms, hospitals, schools, churches, playing fields, allotments, public buildings and open spaces. Large well planned parks were to be located within easy walking distance from every house and the streets themselves were to be wide, open tree-lined boulevards.

There was general agreement that the new town of Rosyth should be built on Garden City lines but there was no agreement as to which branch of Government should take on the role. The Edinburgh and East of Scotland Branch of the Garden Cities and Town Planning Association in Edinburgh offered their help and in December 1913, Raymond Unwin was appointed by the Admiralty to prepare a detailed plan. Tenders were invited from private contractors interested in building the town but no satisfactory offer was received. With work on the Dockyard progressing, the time was rapidly approaching when some 2000 men (mainly from the Southern Dockyards) would need to be suitably housed. The solution finally adopted was to establish a body known as the Scottish National Housing Company whose sole purpose was to build Rosyth Garden City. Dunfermline Town Council held the majority of shares in the Company but a small proportion were owned by private individuals. The bulk of the finance came from loans from the Local Government Board for Scotland. The Government passed the Housing (Rosyth Dockyard) Act 1915 which exempted the building work from the normal Scottish building acts and by-laws and speeded up the process.

The first homes

Work finally started in 1915. The first phase of 150 houses was designed by an Edinburgh based firm of architects, Greig and Fairbairn, but the work was overseen by one of Unwin’s pupils A H Mottram. He was responsible for the design of most of the other houses in the Garden City and many of his original architectural drawings are held by the Royal Commission for the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The formal ceremony to mark the occupation of the first house took place in May 1916. The designs of the houses were not without their critics but a report by the Parliamentary Committee of the Scottish Trades Union Council in 1917 was very complimentary about the layout of the town describing it as far in advance of anything yet attempted in Scotland. Work continued apace and by the end of 1918, some 1600 houses had been built with Holloway Brothers of London being responsible for most of them. This was a remarkable achievement given the shortage of labour and materials during war time. A source of clay for brick building had been found close to Rosyth and many of the bricks used in the Rosyth houses came from this local source. German prisoners of war were used to make the bricks.

The original plans for the Dockyard envisaged Rosyth becoming a manning port similar to Portsmouth and Devonport with boys and men doing their training at Rosyth and certain ships being designated as Rosyth manned ships. The Dockyard was to have a naval barracks, a hospital, gunnery and torpedo schools and a training establishment for boys. The population of Rosyth was expected to increase to 30,000 and the intention was to erect 3000 houses over 6 years for the civilian population. The Housing Company were authorised to build another 100 houses in 2 batches in 1921 and 1924 but these proved to be the last houses to be built as part of the Garden City. By the Treaty of Washington in 1922, the major naval powers agreed to limit the size of their navies which, for the Royal Navy, meant a significant reduction in the number of capital ships. A smaller navy meant less work for the Royal Naval Dockyards.

In 1921, short time working was introduced in the Dockyard and, in September 1925,the Dockyard was closed and put on a care and maintenance basis. The “established” men who worked in the Dockyard were posted back to the southern yards and many of the houses in Rosyth Garden City became vacant. The Housing Company obtained authority to let the vacant houses at rents similar to those charged to Dockyard employees and the houses were soon occupied. In 1926, over 1100 of the 1700 houses were vacated and re-let to people from Inverkeithing, Dunfermline, North Queensferry, railway employees, labourers from various parts of the District, retired people, disabled soldiers, pensioners, professional and businessmen and commercial travellers. It is difficult to comprehend just what a change this would have made to the character of the town. In 1924, the tenants were all Dockyard employees of working age, many of them from England. Two years later Rosyth had become a Scottish town with tenants from many different walks of life, a number of them being of pensionable age.

Nowadays, Rosyth may not seem anything special – simply an older version of many of our modern housing estates but, when it was built, it was very different from the type of housing being provided in towns and cities at that time. The novelty of Rosyth attracted many visitors in the early days and, indeed, even some 10 years after the houses had been completed. In 1929, the local paper reported that there were numerous visitors from Edinburgh during the Edinburgh Spring holiday despite a bleak, cold and sunless day. They were interested in the displays in the shops and the houses and gardens were a source of attraction.
With the possible threat of war looming, it was announced at the end of 1938 that the Dockyard was to be re-opened. The wheel had turned full circle. Once again the Dockyard was needed to support the Royal Navy and there was the same need to house incoming workers from the southern Dockyards. More houses were required in Rosyth to cope with the demand and the Housing Company were authorised to build a further 134 houses. These were somewhat similar to the original Garden City houses but of plainer design. In 1942, the Admiralty themselves were responsible for the building of an estate of 650 single storey (mostly brick built) houses popularly known as Dollytown. The houses were flat roofed rectangular boxes with none of the architectural features of the Garden City houses. They were intended to be temporary housing but it was some 30 years before they were demolished and replaced with Council housing.


So what of Rosyth Garden City today? All of the 1700 original houses have stood the test of time and are still there some 90 years later. The Scottish National Housing Company (later the Scottish Special Housing Association) factored the houses for many years. Rosyth expanded into areas such as Camdean during the 1950s and 60s. In the mid 1980s, Dunfermline District Council designated the original Garden City part of Rosyth as a Conservation Area with the aim of preserving the character of the area.
The Conservation Area designation soon came under criticism as the owners of properties found that they were unable to alter their properties in the way they wanted. In a referendum held in 1989 among the residents in the designated area, a significant majority of those voting favoured the withdrawal of the Conservation Area status. The District Council bowed to this expression of public opinion and removed the designation in 1990. The town now represents a community of around 12,000 people.
This is an abridged version of an article written by Martin Rogers for the Summer 2009 edition of the Scottish Local History Forum.


Gretna and Eastriggs

Darras Hall Garden Suburb

The Darras Hall Estate started as a purely residential development, influenced by the aesthetics but not the spirit of the Garden City Movement, in 1910.

The prime mover in its creation was Newcastle philanthropist Joseph Whiteside Wakinshaw, who saw the potential of railways and motor vehicles to allow city businessmen to live in more rural surroundings, rather than in long streets of terraced houses and flats built near to factories or shipyards.

From the middle of the 19th century, the rapid growth of industries in the North-East (and across the whole country)led to a huge demand for housing to accommodate the thousands of extra workers needed in the shipyards and factories.
However, the cramped urban communities which were springing up were not to everyone’s liking, and there were a few men in the area who had more ambitious ideas about where they would like to live.

Without doubt, one of the foremost thinkers in this field was Joseph Whiteside Wakinshaw, without whose vision it is certain that Darras Hall Estate and many areas like it would never have existed.

With a principal hobby of gardening, he was keen to see city dwellers have the opportunity to live in houses with gardens and allotments, away from the dirty and overcrowded conditions they had become accustomed to.

Along with a group of local landowners and businessmen, Wakinshaw created the concept of a residential estate, and, under the guise of the Northern Allotment Society (NAS), formed in 1890, they bought the three farms on the edge of Ponteland, dividing the land into 197 plots of up to five acres in size.

In 1910 – the year the first AGM of the Darras Hall Estate’s Committee was held – the plots were sold off at auction with the cheapest, number 17, realising just £35 and the most expensive, number 56, raising £171.

The trust deed published on November 1, 1910, setting out what owners could and could not do on the land, is still in place today and its terms and byelaws, designed to maintain the rural nature of the estate, remain enforceable.

The land could only be used for residential, agricultural and horticultural purposes, except as agreed by the committee.
Roads, fences and drains were created on the estate and, in the year after its creation, 13 acres of land was made available to the North Eastern Railway Company for the construction of a branch line from Ponteland to a new station in Darras Hall.

This was accepted on the condition of a four per cent return on the £12,000 cost to install the line and associated buildings.
The return was achieved by means of a levy as houses were built on the estate. However, development was so slow that paying off the railway company took many years, and was just achieved before the line, which proved relatively unsuccessful, was closed in 1929.

Apart from paying for their plots, the new landowners had no other immediate expense and the whole concept was extremely bold and unconventional for its time.

There was not even any necessity for owners to spend money to develop their plots in any way, with many remaining in their original state for 50 years or more and others being used to grow crops or rented out to local farmers for grazing.
The escalating values of the land eventually tempted most owners to sell for houses to be built.

In 1911 the first building regulations for the estate were issued and, even then, plans had to be submitted for all proposed developments of houses, sheds, greenhouses and garages.

Ten acres of land lying to the south of Middle Drive, between Whinfell Road and Eastern Way, were designated as a recreation ground and land was reserved in the centre of the estate, on Broadway, for shops, schools and an estate hall.

These days, Darras Hall remains one of the most desirable places to live in the North-East of England, although plot sizes have been reduced to a minimum of a quarter of an acre, paving the way for more than 2,500 properties.

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Cleveleys Garden City

Cleveleys, just south of Blackpool, in Lancashire, was home between July and September of 1906 to a Cottage Exhibition exactly like the one held in Letchworth Garden City a year previously.

In the years following the Letchworth ‘Cheap Cottages’ exhibition, a number of similar exhibitions took place throughout the country including in Sheffield (1907), Wolverhampton (1908), Newcastle (1908) and Swansea (1910).

The catalogue for the exhibition makes clear “the influence of the Cottage Exhibition held last year at Letchworth”.

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Brentham Garden Suburb

escribed by Professor Sir Peter Hall as “a miniature masterpiece”, Brentham is a little-known product of the Garden City movement in Ealing, West London.

Started in 1901 by a group of craftsmen builders under the guidance of Henry Vivian MP, like Letchworth it was founded on Co-partnership principles: tenants had a financial and social stake in where they lived.

The 480 homes built by Ealing Tenants Ltd to a layout by Parker and Unwin embrace the classic features of a garden suburb: well-planned houses with good gardens and open spaces; a Club and Institute for recreation and education; attractive Arts & Crafts architecture; and an identity and integrity that encourage community life.

After more than a hundred years of change, Brentham has retained its character and community life. It remains a very special place to live.

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Residencial San Felipe, Lima

Commissioned by President Fernando Belaúnde Terry, and designed by a team headed in part by architects Enrique Ciriani, Jorge Páez, Jorge Bernuy, and Nikita Smirnoff Bracamonte, San Felipe was designed to combine a high residential density with ample green space, and shopping, banking, and schooling opportunities for residents.

Started as project by President Fernando Belaúnde Terry, who was an archictect in regular life, the Residencial San Felipe was inaugurated on July 2, 1966.

At the time, with almost 50 buildings in five distinct styles holding apartments for over 10,000 families, it was one of the largest housing projects in all of Peru.

The complex was planned and built, on the grounds of a former hippodrome, as a single huge block with no cross-traffic and interlaced with sidewalks and gardens, and including three preschools and a shopping center.

Over time a co-operative school and a chapel were established on the grounds and a clinic was built across the street, meaning that residents could have almost all their needs met within the Residencial itself.

Over its lifetime San Felipe has remained a distinct neighbourhood, with many of the original families still occupying their apartments. Its mix of buildings and large green areas are unmatched anywhere else in the city of Lima, leading to lower levels of noise and atmospheric pollution within its boundaries than is the average in what is quite a sprawling city. Its gardens abound with birds and butterflies, and it is even said that they harbour an endemic type of blind snake.


Svit was established in 1934 by business industrialist Jan Antonín Baťa of Zlín, Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic) through his organization Baťa a.s.

Like, the company’s headquarters of Zlin, the town was set up to provide good quality living accommodation for workers at its factories.

As a boy, Jan Baťa saw the poverty and sickness of his fellow countrymen. He wanted to change this by creating cities full of the most modern factories and filled with the best (and happiest) workers in Europe.

The Baťa System under Jan’s administration brought prosperity first to Moravia, and later Slovakia and Bohemia. It was Jan’s policy for full employment that drove him to create each Baťa town for a different purpose: Shoes, Rubber and Tires, Textiles, Airplanes, Chemicals, Plastics, Media, Stockings, Leather, Machinery.

Svit is short for “Slovenské vizkózové továrne” (in English: Slovak Viscose Works). (Also, the word svit means “shine” in Slovak language.)

Svit is the smallest town in Slovakia (4.5 km²) with the population of 7,400.

Milanino – Citta’ Giardino

Milanino, a suburb of Milan, was a garden village founded in 1907 and inspired by English designs (Letchworth Garden City and Hampstead Garden Suburb were named influences).

The initiative was that of Luigi Buffoli, founder and president of the Cooperative Union, created in 1886 and aimed at helping the middle class with their “habitative needs”: to build “hygienic, cheap, small houses”. It was an ambitious project for which 1,300,000m² of land in the town of Cusano, north of the city were selected. Two-storey buildings were planned, in low densities, with plenty of space for large gardens.

It was, however, only partially completed, due partly to the global financial crisis that affected the Cooperative Union in the Twenties and halted development, and partly because of the failure to complete the high speed tramway line connection with the city that had been promised.

Alongside the odd example of neoclassic recovery, there are mainly small villas with Romanesque or Renaissance quotes and other more up to date ones with floral decorations.

Garbatella district, Rome

Garbatella is a quarter in the Ostiense district of Rome, with a population of nearly 45,000.

It was founded in the late 1920s on an estate bearing the same name lying on a hill adjacent to the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls.

The older section of the area is divided into project units (in Italian ‘lotto’), each of them made of several buildings grouped together around a common yards: this design was borrowed from the Garden city movement.

This kind of architectural agglomeration in Rococo style, consists of a common garden area which serves as an informal meeting point for all the families that live in the lotto.


Tapiola was built by the private non-profit organisation the Asuntosaatio (the Housing Foundation), which formed in 1951 under the leadership of Heikki von Hertzen, a garden city advocate. Their aim was to build a self supporting community of 12,000 residents, with its own services and employment opportunities.

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Construction began in 1952 on a site six miles from Helsinki, and lasted for almost 20 years. The original plans by Otto Meurman included individual houses each with its own garden. Economic constraints, however, meant that the majority of housing was in the form of apartment blocks although the areas forest setting and low density was retaining.

These revised plans were the work of a group of prominent Finnish architects, including Aarne Ervi, Alvar Aalto, and Kaija Siren took, each working on different area of the site.

The area is still controlled and maintained by Asuntosaatio.


Puu-Käpylä was built as a garden suburb of Helsinki, in 1920 to provide housing for workers which were in short supply within the city, It was founded by The Helsinkian Peoples Housing Company and several Cooperative housing companies after visits to Letchworth and Hampstead in 1919, and was based on garden city principles.

Designed by Martti Välikangas, each house had its own garden, a feature that was seldom found with working class Finnish houses, where residents were encouraged to grow their own fruit and vegetables. The wooden houses were built in the local vernaucular style using partly industrialised processes, but with only basic facilities. In the post war period, war damage and lack of upkeep led to proposals for the area to be replanned and houses built in stone. The suburb was eventually recognised as being historically important and is now protected.

Garden Cities in Belgium

n Belgium, there had been much early interest in Garden Cities including a development called Cite Jouet-Rey, in Etterbeek in 1909, but further progress was halted by the outbreak of the First World War. After that conflict, the country was ravaged, and became the focus of a great deal of attention from the International Garden Cities & Town Planning Association, on account of the reconstruction required there.

Indeed there were a great number of developments along Garden City lines in Belgium in the 1920s, although they were all more Garden Suburbs than Garden Cities. Le Logis & Floreal in Watermael-Boitsfort in Brussels were developed between 1922 and 1951; Kapelleveld in Woluwe, Saint-Lambert and La Roue & Mortebeek in Anderlecht (in 1922), the Unitas Garden Suburb in Deurne, Antwerp between 1923 and 1932; Cite Diongre in Molenbeek and Cite Van Lindtin Auderghem (both 1922) and a later development in Cite Modele Laeken in 1958.


In Bhutan’s capital city Thimphu the ‘new plan’, following the Principles of Intelligent Urbanism, is an organic response to the fragile ecology.

Using sustainable concepts, it has been described as a contemporary response to the garden city concept.


Stevenage was the first of the New Towns to be built, designated in 1946.

It features the UK’s first entirely pedestrian shopping precinct as its centre, opened by HM the Queen. Housing is laid out in six distinct neighbourhoods.

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Milton Keynes


Milton Keynes was the last New Town, and the last example of planning at scale in the UK.

It was founded on 23 January 1967 with the aim of relieving the housing pressure in London.

Despite the fact Milton Keynes is a new town, the designated area of 89 square kilometres was not unpopulated at the time of its designation. The new town absorbed the existing towns of Bletchley, Wolverton and Stony Stratford which are today constituent towns of Milton Keynes. But the town also absorbed a number of smaller villages and hamlets some of which have a history dating back to the Early Middle Ages. The town itself took the name after the village of Milton Keynes which was first mentioned in the 11th century as Middeltone.

Before designation of Milton Keynes, the area had a population of less than 50,000. Today, the town is estimated to have nearly 250,00 residents which means that the project has succeeded as the town was planned to provide a home to 250,000 people. One of the main reasons for this success also lays in its design which was created by some of the most respected urban planners and architects including Lord Norman Foster, Sir Richard MacCormac, Ralph Erskine, Henning Larsen, Martin Richardson and John Winter. They created a strongly modernist design and used the grid square system for layout.

Other key features of the original town design include intensive planting, parkland and lakes which are so characteristic for today’s Milton Keynes. According to the original plan, no building in the town should be taller than the tallest tree but this was later revised. Nevertheless, the vision of the new town turned out to be a success and in 2004, an extension plan was announced according to which the population should double by 2026.

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Harlow was built in 1947 – one of the first ‘new towns’, built after World War II to ease overcrowding in London.

The master plan for Harlow new town was drawn up in 1947 by Architect-Planner Sir Frederick Gibberd. It divided the town into different neighbourhoods, separated by landscaped areas of green space, each with their own shopping precincts, community facilities and pubs.

The development incorporated the market town of Harlow, as well as several existing villages.

‘Sculpture Town’

Harlow is home to over 100 public sculptures by artists including Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.

Sir Frederick Gibberd had an idea that the New Town could be a place where people who might not normally have access to art could enjoy great sculptures by great artists on every street corner. Consequently almost all of Harlow’s sculptures are located in the open air, in shopping centres, housing estates and parks around the town.

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Wythenshawe was designed by Barry Parker in the 1920s, intended as a “garden city” where an overspill population could be re-housed away from the slums and squalor of industrial Manchester. It featured a new concept, imported from America, of ‘parkways’, on which Parker was very keen.
It is Manchester’s largest housing area, it has been referred to as one of the largest council housing estates in Europe, although private ownership has grown.

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The garden city of Stains was built in the 1920s by architects and Georges Eugene & Gonnot Albenque. It consisted of housing for families and flats with great architecture, supplemented by public and private green spaces and community facilities and shops.

The initial project was ambitious. It was planned to build a well-equipped housing estate, a swimming pool, a fitness club, a cinema and an auditorium with a lively commercial centre and quiet residential part also to be built, but ultimately much of the intended scheme wasn’t built.

The central square was surrounded by large and straight avenues. Some streets are curvilinear and lined by pavilions. Some gardens are bordered by lanes that reach courtyards, big green ways accessible only on foot and sometimes allocated as families’ garden.

According to the Stains’ Cité-jardin town-plan, the facilities are centralized around the Pointet square. In contrast with the smaller and quiet streets of the Stains’ Cité-jardin, the Paul-Vaillant-Couturier Avenue is a busy shopping Street.

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In the second half of the 19th century, many areas around the outskirts of Paris experienced a huge growth in population, due to the industrial revolution, and this influx of factories & workers to the area led directly overcrowded and unsanitary housing conditions, making the workers prone to epidemics such as Cholera and Tuberculosis.

Inspired by the ideas of Ebenezer Howard, translated and interpreted by Georges Benoit-Levy, and no doubt concerned about the health & productivity of the workforce, factory owners and other philanthropists set about construction of a network of Garden Cities (in reality, Garden Suburbs) on the outskirts of Paris.

As early as 1911, the Seine departmental committee of low-cost housing launched a competition to design a Garden City. Many skillfully drawn up proposals were considered but few were actioned – only Epinay sur Seine was begun, in 1912.

Even before it had ended, planning for reconstruction after the Great War brought the housing issue into sharp focus again. In 1915, the Seine Public Centre of Low Cost Housing was set up, and Garden Cities found a new advocate in its administrator, Seine Department Councillor Henri Sellier, who proposed the construction of about fifteen garden cities in the suburbs surrounding Paris.

“Even if the moral and economical aspects of life are taken into account, it’s impossible to assure dwellings with maximum comfort to the working classes and to the intellectuals. It’s also impossible to guarantee sanitary condition likely to eliminate the big smokes inconvenience and it’s hard to create urban planning that makes the city beautiful.”
Henri SELLIER – 1919

In the beginning, the garden cities were built in a colorful style, mainly consisting of ‘pavilions’ and loosely inspired, aesthetically, by the English model.

However, many of these Garden Cities, because of economic concerns and the urgent need for housing ended up being more urban in character with more high-rise and high density housing, as especially witnessed in the Pré-Saint-Gervais and Drancy de la Muette schemes.

Garden Suburbs surrounding Paris, all built in the inter-war period in the 1920s and 30s, include Stains, Maisons-Alfort, Champigny, Charenton, Vitry, Malabry, Plessis-Robinson, Boulogne, Vanves, Suresnes, Glennevilliers, Drancy, Drancy de la Muette, L Pre St. Gervais, and Les Lilas.


Hampstead Garden Suburb, in north west London, was founded in 1907 by social reformer, Henrietta Barnett.

The Garden Suburb was intended to provide high quality low density housing for all classes of people and all income groups, in an area adjoining Hampstead Heath, just near the new Underground station at Golders Green.

The master plan of the estate was laid out along Garden City lines by Parker & Unwin, and the housing was designed by some significant British domestic architects, including Edwin Lutyens and G.L. Sutcliffe. Hampstead Garden Suburb incorporated many Garden City design influences, including tree-lined corridors, public open space and high quality architecture, within an attractive and quiet environment.

The architectural critic, Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, called it ‘The most nearly-perfect example of the unique English invention…the Garden Suburb.

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Following the success of Letchworth, Ebenezer Howard was convinced that, in order to further promote his ideas, another example of a Garden City was needed, particularly as the Garden Cities & Town Planning Association were frustrated by the Government’s emphasis on local authority housing. Howard identified a site close to Welwyn as an ideal location. The land, on the Panshanger estate, eventually became available at auction in 1919. Howard’s supporters assisted with loans to meet the deposit, due to a reluctance by the Association to fund their venture. Further land was acquired including from Lord Salisbury.

The development of the Welwyn Garden City differed from that of the first. The Welwyn estate was comparatively flat, dominated by the railway dissecting it. Initial layouts were proposed by Osborn and Crickmer, but a master plan by Louis De Soissons was chosen in 1920, which included a station at its centre.

De Soissons was responsible for the design of the whole of the town, from its road layout right down to its window catches. He designed the town in the neo-Georgian style which was in vogue at the time. De Soissons retained the ‘lanes’ that existed on the site, plus all the major trees and made only the principal thoroughfares straight.

Welwyn Garden City, like its predecessor, created a high quality environment, with a strong identity and attractive housing, within a landscape context, incorporating a functional zoned approach.

As with Letchworth, Welwyn Garden City was initially reliant on private investors, despite initial slow growth, by 1938 its population had only reached 13,500.
Welwyn Garden City can be seen as the precursor of the new towns, being designated under the New Towns Act of 1946, leading to the company’s assets vested in the Development Corporation, which managed its post-war growth. This ultimately led to the capture of land value and reinvestment principle being lost.

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Founded in 1936, as part of President Roosevelt’s Resettlement programme, Greendale was developed on the outskirts of Milwaukee. The aim of the programme was to create suburban communities, which combined city and country life, providing a good standard of housing at affordable rents. Its construction also provided jobs for the unemployed. Greendale was one of the “greenbelt” communities, which were surrounded by stretches of land designed to control future growth as pioneered at Letchworth. The settlement consisted of a village centre with public services, green spaces, housing with private gardens and easily accessible local employment. The village centre of Greendale is now listed as being historically significant.

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Baldwin Hills

Built between 1935 and 1942, Baldwin Hills, Los Angeles was designed as a collaboration between architect Reginald Johnson, landscape architect Fred Barlow and urban planner Clarence Stein. Building on Stein’s experience at Sunnyside Gardens and Radburn, Baldwin Hills features Garden City inspired planning in its use of residential superblocks around a large public green. As with his other plans there was a distinct separation of roads and pedestrianised areas. Baldwin Hills Village was declared a cultural heritage site in 1977. The settlement changed its name to Village Green and was named a National Historic Landmark in 2001.

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The city of Stockholm built several municipal settlements, based on garden city principles, in order to fill its severe housing shortage. The city began purchasing large tracts of land in the early 1900s, on which city engineer Herman Ygberg argued it was possible to build high quality housing, with gardens, for the same price as an inner-city apartment.

The plans for Enskede were drawn up in 1906, with plots of land offered leasehold to stop speculative building and loans of up to 80% were offered to help lower income families.

Other sites soon followed including Appelviken in 1910, which was marketed to middle class families due to the higher cost of land, Ulvsunda in 1912, Enskededalen in 1920, and North Angby and South Angby in the 1930s. Each area was planned around a central square with shops and public services, which acted as a focus for the district.

Many of these areas still retain much of their original appearance and are now listed as being historically important.


The garden settlements around Gothenburg were the work of city engineer Albert Lilienberg who was tasked with solving the shortage of affordable and healthy housing. Landala Egnahem was built between 1913 and 1922 on a mountain plateau above the city, chosen for its clean air. The plan for settlement followed the topography of the site with curving streets that culminated to open spaces. The houses had gardens for farming and were clad in wood in harmony with their pine forest setting. Lilienberg was responsible for the development of other suburbs of the city, several of which also show the influence of the Garden City Movement. This included Orgryte built in 1920 and Bagaregarden in 1914 with its irregular frontages and curving tree-lined streets. Many of these areas are now protected, and are recognised as being of national interest. To find out more about Enskede please click here or about Landala click here


Covaresa is a southern suburban area of Valladolid, the capital of Castile and Leon in the north west of Spain. It is a relatively recent development completed by the ‘Industrial Cooperative of Valladolid Construction’, which became an official society called ‘Constructures Vallisoletanos Reunidus S.A’. They were simply a group of local builders determined to create a neighbourhood based upon the principles of the original garden city movement pioneered by Ebenezer Howard. Development began in the 1980’s and didn’t finish until 2008, making Covaresa one of the youngest areas in Valladolid. Initially there were difficulties and doubts about the huge 200 hectare project, and the Society considered reducing this to 70 hectares. Finally between 1988 and 1989 the area was urbanised with streets, paths and electricity.

Podkowa Leśna

Podkowa Leśna, Warsaw was designed in 1925 by Anthony Jawornicki. The establishment of the Electric Commuter Rail in the 1920s opened up the outskirts of the city for residential development. In a similar design to Letchworth Garden City, the housing was planned in concentric tree-lined streets, organised in a horseshoe shape, with the train station at its centre.  Whilst the urban layout has remained intact, the architecture has suffered from unsympathetic alterations. In 1981 Podkowa Leśna was registered as historically important.

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Ullevaal Hageby

Ullevål Hageby was planned in 1913 by Oscar Hoff in response to the growing population of nearby Oslo, with the intention of creating a self contained community.

Hoff was influenced by garden city principles and tried to establish an alternative to urban life; the settlement was planned with a central space and public buildings, combined with green spaces. Initially, the area was planned for the City’s workers but design and building costs meant that it was necessary to market it at wealthier middle class buyers.

The buildings were designed in the arts and crafts style, with red tiled roofs, by the architect, Harald Hals. A Variety of housing styles and types were produced including single and multi-family dwelling most with access to an allotment. Ullevål Hageby retains much of its original character today.  Click here to find out more


The Mezaparks, Riga were conceived by city engineer Adolphe Aghte around 1900. They predate yet share several common features with the Garden City Movement, developing concurrently with Letchworth Garden City.

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Originally called Kaiserwald, the suburb with its forest setting was planned by Georg Kuphaldt, with the first houses completed in 1902, and a tramline linking it to the city centre added the following year. The prevailing architectural style was Art Nouveau until after the First World War when a more modernist approach was adopted.

Strict guidelines were set for the construction of the Mezaparks including limiting the height of dwellings, their density and their proximity to the roads. This created a uniform, low density development in a natural green setting. The area is now listed and much sought after; one of the properties is now used for the Swiss Embassy.



The garden suburb of Marino, was built by the Dublin Corporation (now City Council) as the result of a series of housing enquiries carried out before the First World War. These highlighted the severe shortage and poor condition of housing in Dublin. Patrick Geddes, with the help of Raymond Unwin, put forward a proposal for a suburb based on garden city principles. After the War the plans were modified by Horace O’Rourke and included a central green area from which spread symmetrical clusters of housing around further green spaces. Building began in 1923, with a lottery system being used to allocate the first houses. High quality houses, with the latest mod cons, were built specifically for the working classes. The town still retains much of its original garden suburb character.

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Wekerletelep, Budapest, was built between 1909 and 1926 to provide housing for the cities growing population.

In particular there was large scale immigration from the countryside, and the need for housing for these rural workers may have influenced the choice of building a garden settlement. It was built on land purchased by the government on the outskirts of the city. Reminiscent of Hampstead Garden Suburb, Wekerle included a central square with schools, churches, cinema and police station, creating a self-contained community on the edge of the city. Its houses were designed in a mix of arts and crafts and local vernacular style, with gardens, allotments and tree lined streets and squares.

Now no longer on the outskirts of the city, the area retains its feel of a village within a city. It was made a national monument in 2011.

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The Garden suburb of Wandsbek, Hamburg, was founded in 1910 with the formation of the co-operative Wandsbek Garden City Company. Like other garden suburbs, vernacular style housing was grouped around green spaced along tree-lined streets. The city was heavily damaged during the Second World War; due to economic reasons, however, it was necessary to rebuild on a much higher density than had originally been used. The co-operative association still operates and owns and manages properties in the suburb and across Hamburg on behalf of its members.


Gartenstadt am Ziegelhain, Stuttgart, is a recent variation on a garden settlement. Started in 2010, the development was marketed for its ’green’ credentials. The buildings were designed to be energy efficient and to occupy less than forty percent of the total site, the majority being set aside for gardens and a central green area that was closed to traffic for public leisure use. The site includes a mix of housing types as well as commercial units. Unlike other garden suburbs, Gartenstadt am Ziegelhain, is close to the city centre as it is built on the site of a former brickworks.

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Römerstadt was built as one of a series of satellite settlements in the Nidda Valley around Frankfurt. Ernst May prepared plans for the sites as part of Ludwig Landmann’s wider ‘New Era’ cultural and economic reform of the area. May had spent two years working with Raymond Unwin before working on Römerstadt and incorporated many of the details of Hampstead Garden Suburb into his plans, such as the use of boundary walls. Römerstadt updated the Garden City look, with strong Modernist architecture but followed its principles including the availability of allotments and gardens to create a self-supporting community. May’s studies in rationalisation also meant houses were built to be space and labour saving with the latest modern conveniences; Römerstadt was Germany’s first fully electrified settlement. The impact of Römerstadt has been lost due to subsequent building, however many of its iconic structures still remain.


The garden suburb of Nuremberg was founded in 1908 with the formation of a co-operative housing association. The planning and architecture of the settlement was initially produced by Richard Riemerschmid, who had gained experience of garden city principles through his earlier work at Hellerau, before being taken over by Hans Lehr. The plan included the use of cul-de-sacs and houses grouped around courtyards and green spaces. Construction began in 1911 with the first houses being allocated to the co-operative’s members through a lottery. As with other garden cities, economic restraints meant that apartment blocks had to be built instead of the preferred single-family dwellings. The area was severely damaged during the Second World War with almost 70% of the buildings being lost; therefore little of the suburb’s  original appearance has been retained. The buildings are still owned and managed by the same co-operative association.


Margarethenhöhe, Essen was founded in 1906 by the Krupp steel company, whose employees made up half of the suburb’s residents. Built on garden city principles, the architect Georg Metzendorf separated the suburb from the city with a wooded greenbelt. At the centre of the town was a market square with public amenities, from which narrow side streets curved to limit through traffic. The town required extensive restoration after being damaged during the Second World War. It was made a protected historical area in 1987. The garden suburb and the later post-war development of Margarethenhöhe II are still owned and managed by the Margarethe Krupp housing foundation. In the nearby town of Dinslaken is the garden suburb of Lohberg, which was built by the Thyssen Company between 1907 and 1924 to provide accommodation for its workers. Coincidently the Krupp and Thyssen companies have since merged to form ThyssenKrupp.

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The garden village of Marga, Senftenberg, was built by the mining company Ilse Bergbau AG. In need of housing for its workers near to its mines, a settlement based on garden city principles was built between 1906 and 1914. Reminiscent of Ebenezer Howard’s diagrams, Marga has a circular layout with a central town square with public buildings, surrounded by houses within generous gardens. These were separated from the adjacent industrial area by a greenbelt. Emphasis was placed on the welfare of the workforce and on high quality houses that provided good ventilation and light. The town was much neglected until the end of the 20th century when both the town and its industrial areas were restored and redeveloped, to enable the two to work alongside each other as originally intended.

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The garden suburb of Mannheim was founded in 1910 by the Mannheim Garden City Cooperative with the aim of building healthy and affordable housing for its members. The plan followed other garden suburbs with a central public area, green spaces and tree-lined streets. Construction began in 1912 with houses being built using wooden shingles in the local vernacular style. In the 1920s a second suburb was built on adjoining land to expand the residential area. The neighbourhood is still owned and managed by the original co-operative association. It remains one of the greenest areas of the city and is now protected as being historically important.


The Garden suburb of Karlsruhe was the work of Hans Kampffmeyer, co-founder and Secretary General of the German Garden City Association in 1905. Rather than Howard’s self-supporting Garden cities, Kampffmeyer believed that garden settlements attached to existing cities were the way forward. He produced the plans as well as forming a co-operative society to build the garden suburb on the outskirts of the city of Karlsruhe. Construction began in 1911 and continued in stages until the 1930s. Economic difficulties meant that some public buildings were not built and a greater emphasis had to be put on the building of apartment blocks over single family dwellings. The Garden City of Karlsruhe Co-operative society still owns and manages most of the settlement.


Founded in 1908, Hellerau, on the outskirts of Dresden, was one of the first garden cities in Germany. It was the creation of Karl Schmidt, owner of the furniture company, Deutsche Werkstätten. A settlement based on garden city principles offered Schmidt both the space needed to expand his production, as well as providing healthy living conditions for his workforce, close to his factory. Richard Riemerschmid produced a development plan that created distinct areas, as had been used at Letchworth, including an industrial area, workers houses, larger detached houses and public spaces. A commission was established to maintain a harmonious unity between the buildings created by the different architects, which included Hermann Muthesius. Cultural activities were also seen as important part of the community’s development; the Festival Hall was built in 1911 and quickly became renowned for its avant-garde productions, which continues to this day. Now incorporated into the city of Dresden, Hellerau is protected as an historical monument.

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Fritz-Schumacher-Siedlung Langenhorn, Hamburg was named after the city’s Chief architect Fritz Schumacher who planned the development in 1918. A severe shortage of housing after the First World War led to the formation of the garden suburb specifically for those returning from the War including invalids and those with large families. A self-contained community was planned with a school, church, shops, nursery and public green spaces. The pressing need for housing and economic constraints meant the majority of dwellings were in the form of terraced houses, each with a garden where the inhabitants could grow food. In 1990 a co-operative society took over the management of the estate from the city of Hamburg. The area is now protected to preserve its appearance.


Gartenstadt Falkenberg was designed by Bruno Taut between 1913 and 1916 and built by a non-profit organisation on behalf of the city. Taut designed a variety of houses types including apartments, terraces, and semi-detached houses that were painted in bold colours. Of importance to Taut was the ‘Aussenwohnraume’ outdoor living space and each dwelling had its own garden for growing food. Garden architect, Ludwig Lesser, was appointed to plan the gardens and green spaces, establishing plant lists to unify their appearance. The careful grouping of houses combined with street planting further enhanced the impression of village greens. Along with other modernist housing estates in Berlin, the gartenstadt Falkenberg is now a world heritage site.

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The City of Zlin expanded during in the 1920s due to the success and rapid growth of the Bata Company and its subsequent need for a larger workforce. Frantisek Gahura produced plans for the city along garden city principles, which included the creation of distinct functional areas dedicated to work, home and leisure. Modern architecture and techniques were used for the construction of industrial and public buildings; the residential building however were clad in red brick and surrounded by gardens to emphasise their domestic nature. The expansion increased after 1923 when Tomáŝ Bata, the company founder, became mayor of the city; as a result several public buildings were built by the company. Much of the original architecture and layout remains. The Bata company built other Garden settlements for its workers including Batôv, and East Tilbury, Essex.

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Tivoli Garden Suburb

The building of Tivoli Garden Suburb, Vienna was part of a wider programme of social reform. From 1923 this included plans to re-house those in the poorest housing conditions. In 1927 William Peterle, a supporter of the Garden City Movement, designed an estate with dwellings for two to four families, with walled gardens, all within park-like grounds. Public amenities included a nursery and laundry. It was seen as controversial due to its high cost and low density compared to other housing developments being built at the time. Its park setting and location near the Imperial Schönbron Palace also meant its residents were mostly middle-class rather than its intended residents. The area is now protected.

Puchenau Garden City

Puchenau Garden City, Linz was the work of Roland Rainer and built in two phases beginning in 1962. Its aim was to provide affordable mass housing; despite its high density, its design and ecological credentials made the development distinct from other social housing of the time. Rather than high-rise blocks, the majority of housing consisted of low-rise, single-family dwellings with private gardens. These houses were designed to face the sun, for light and passive heating; solar energy was also harnessed to heat water. The settlement was also traffic-free with garages and underground car parks provided on the outskirts. Puchenau I was completed in 1968 whereas the building of Puchenau II continued into the 21st century, correcting and updating the lessons learnt from phase one. Local amenities, such as a church and school, have been added to enhance the community spirit of the area.

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Glenard Estate Eaglemont

Designed in 1915 by American architects Walter Griffin (1876-1937) and Marion Griffin (1871-1961), the Glenard Estate in Eaglemont, a suburb of Melbourne, is widely recognised as having state significance, with vast areas having been placed on the Victorian Heritage register in 2007.

In order to preserve it, further development and planning of the estate is controlled and restricted by permits that may or may not be issued by the council.

Its cultural significance lies with its innovative and experimental planning based upon the Garden City movement. The Glenard Estate was designed with the landscape in mind, roads and buildings mirror natural curves providing views over the Yarra River Valley and ‘nature strips’ along with a lack of visual barriers enhance this natural aesthetic.

Community spirit was embedded into the design through common spaces for recreation and at intersections the curvilinear roads are broken up by ‘traffic islands’ covered in trees.

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Den-en-Chōfu is an area near the Tama River in Ōta Ward, Southern Tokyo. The name literally translates as ‘garden suburb of Chōfu’. In 1907 Eiichi Shibusawa, a wealthy financier, bought the land in order to create a garden suburb similar to ones already established around the world, especially the ones surrounding London.

A British town planner was hired to design the area and unsurprisingly, large tree-lined streets and parks were incorporated. Housing styles vary greatly; they are mostly detached and include Edwardian villas, Japanese neo-classical buildings and modern architectural designs. Oddly enough the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 had a positive effect on the Den-en-Chōfu suburb; this is because when large areas of Tokyo were destroyed, Den-en-Chōfu remained intact, forcing people out of the centre of the city. Today it remains one of the most exclusive places to live, with houses reaching sizes considerably larger than most other residences of Tokyo, however Den-en-Chōfu no longer considered suburban.

© National Land Image Information (Colour Aerial Photographs), Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism

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New Delhi

New Delhi became capital of India, when the British government decided to transfer this from Calcutta in 1912.

The India Office formulated a committee of architects to assist in the design of a new settlement, which included the highly notable Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker.

The potential for unrestricted growth on all boundaries was considered an advantage and the initial plan was of a suburban nature expanding the existing city, incorporating large plots, wide boulevards, clearly resembling many Garden City design principles.

It incorporated many classic building designs, such as modelled on the Royal Crescent in Bath, Connaught Place, which is an example of this high quality design. The plan benefited from a geometric street layout and a series of radial roads, linking different parts of the city. The plan includes residential, commercial clusters and substantial open in a formal layout.

Lutyen’s plan was implemented in 1931 and this original area remains in place. Later expansion in the 1960s and 1970s incorporated high density and high rise development, which did not benefit from the quality of design in the original plan, as New Delhi moves to become one of the largest cities in the world.

The first phase of the expansion of the New Delhi expansion was not directly aimed to be a garden city, but there is evidence of synergies between the designs of Lutyens in his master plan and the work of Parker of Unwin in Letchworth and Hampstead Garden Suburb.

Although this low density approach would not be acceptable in the central area of a major city today, the New Delhi example does show that in the early 20th Century, there was a clear influence from the Garden City Design Principles.

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Tel Aviv

White City forms the central area of Tel Aviv, which was planned by Patrick Geddes in 1925. A rapidly increasing population necessitated the need for planned growth and further housing. Geddes plan was the embodiment of his thinking on environment and the role of people in shaping their surroundings. At its centre, on the highest point, was circus surrounded by public buildings including a theatre and museum. The city was divided into districts defined by main roads, off which narrower secondary roads led to green residential areas. Here houses could only occupy a third of their total plot and had to be a set distance away from the road and the surrounding houses. The buildings show the influence of European Modernist architecture, yet were adapted to the local environment through a reduction in glazing, deep set balconies and roof terraces. The buildings and their original layout have been well preserved and White City is now a World Heritage Site.

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Pinelands is a garden suburb of Cape Town. In 1919, land on the outskirts of the city was acquired by the Garden Cities Trust to meet the demands for healthy affordable housing for the area’s population. A loan from Richard Stuttaford, local businessman and philanthropist was given to the trust in order to develop the settlement.

With the guidance of Raymond Unwin, the town was planned by Albert Thompson in 1920 and included many garden city features such as a central civic centre, tree lined streets and green spaces. Separate roads were created for vehicles, cyclists and pedestrians. Houses had generous plots and had thatched roofs. The suburb has continued to expand and is now recognised as a national monument.

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Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia, was founded in 1913, along Garden City lines.
Subsequent development didn’t adhere closely to the original plan, and recent massive expansion has left the city overcrowded.

Speaking about the city’s centenary in July 2013, Lusaka’s Mayor Daniel Chisenga said:

“Lusaka city will this month celebrate 100 years of civic administration. You may wish to know that civic works officially started in 1913 and this was largely due to unsanitary conditions which posed a health risk at the time.

“You may also wish to know that Lusaka city was established on the concept of a garden city, which has been lost over the years. Through the centenary celebrations, we have an opportunity to reclaim the garden city concept and ensure that we customise it,”

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Heliopolis, Cairo was the work of the Heliopolis Oasis Company formed in 1905 by Belgian industrialist, Edouard Empain.

The company purchased a stretch of desert 10km from the centre of Cairo where they could build a ‘city of luxury and leisure’. With wide streets, controlled building heights and green spaces, the site was much sought after especially when compared to the density of Cairo. As well as the latest conveniences such as plumbed water, drainage and electricity the settlement also included a racetrack, golf course, luxury hotel, cinema and Lunapark, one of the first amusement parks in Africa.

The growth of Cairo soon consumed the settlement of Heliopolis and many of its original buildings were destroyed and green spaces lost in the demand for building space. In 1998 the remaining original buildings were protected to stop further destruction.

Postcard, c.1920, Garden City Collection


Ifrane Garden settlement was initially developed in 1928 as a ‘hill station’ where French colonialists could spend their summers in the cooler temperatures of the Atlas Mountains. As such its layout and architecture is influenced by European models with central public green spaces, curving tree lined streets and alpine chalet-style houses. Houses could not occupy more than 40% of their plot and the large gardens were planted with imported European plants and flowers.

The settlement did not provide housing for the Moroccan workers of Ifrane’s inhabitants, who had to live in the shanty town of Timdiqin, which grew in parallel with Ifrane. After the Country’s independence many Moroccans began moving to the area and more public services were provided such as markets and a mosque. Only small sections of the original architecture can still be seen as the majority has been demolished or replaced.

Jardim America

Several settlements, known as bairro-jardim or garden-neighbourhoods, were built around the growing city of Sao Paulo.

The first of these, Jardim America, was initiated in 1911 with the formation of the City of Sao Paulo Improvements and freehold Co Ltd. With the help of British, French and Brazilian investors, the company acquired large stretches of land around Sao Paulo with the aim of creating neighbourhoods based on garden city principles. Designed by Barry Parker, construction of Jardim America began in 1913 and was completed in 1929. The success of the bairro-jardim meant that many other suburbs were built on similar lines around Sao Paulo, including Bela Aliança and Alto da Lapa in 1921, also designed by Parker Jardim Europa in 1922 and Pacaembu in 1925.

Other Brazillian cities also built bairro-jardim such as Rio de Janerio, Brasilia and Belo Horizonte. Many of these neighbourhoods are now protected as being historically significant and are amongst some of the wealthiest, most sought after suburbs of their cities.

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Del Palomar

Ciudad Jardín Lomas del Palomar, Buenos Aires was the idea of German émigré Dr. Erich Zeyen who moved to Argentina in 1929. Having experienced the successful influence of the garden city movement in German, Zeyen wanted to build his own settlement on Garden city principles. Purchasing land on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, in 1933, the first residents moved in 1944.


Elizabeth was established in 1955 as a satellite New Town for Adelaide by the South Australian Housing Trust. Instead of being a commuter town, it was designed to house 30,000 residents who would both live and work in the area. Influenced by the British New Town Movement, the site was planned with a town centre with civic and public buildings, around which six neighbourhood units were grouped.

These neighbourhoods were to be largely self-contained, each with its own community centre with schools, doctors and shopping areas. Across the site were green spaces and each unit was separated from the others by park land and greenbelts. New industries also established themselves because of the availability of both space and potential employees. The area declined during the 1980s, but is now once again popular for its affordable housing.

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Sunshine, Melbourne was developed by Hugh Victor McKay from 1904 in order to provide housing for his workers at the Sunshine Harvester Works. He aimed to build a community following garden city principles, such as a central public park and civic buildings, including schools and a library.  Early housing was basic, including concrete and weatherboard dwellings with corrugated iron roofs. The settlement expanded rapidly with further suburbs added to the area, along with other industries. Although little remains of the original layout, the neighbourhood retains low density housing and continues to be a hub for industry in the area, with a population of approximately 8,800.

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Haberfield is a suburb of Sydney and was developed in 1901.

It is Australia’s first Garden Suburb and was influenced by the City Beautiful Movement and displays Garden City design principles, although its founding does pre-date Letchworth itself. It was the vision of town planning advocate, Richard Stanton, working with architect John Spencer-Stansfield, who took a detailed approach to the design of the suburb.  Today it has a population of 6,650.

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Daceyville, Sydney, was founded as Australia’s first public housing scheme in 1912.

Planned by John Sulman and based on garden city principles, it was built to provide much needed housing and replace slum dwelling. It was to be a self-contained suburb with healthy, affordable housing, shops and schools with wide streets and large plots. The plan was criticised by Charles Reade as being ‘extravagant and costly’ and was subsequently revised by William Foggitt with narrower streets and cul-de-sacs. The need for housing after the First World War changed the area from a workers’ suburb into one for War widows and returning servicemen and required land to be sold off for private housing. It has since been altered with green spaces being in-filled with new housing. The area is now protected.

Plan c.1912,

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Colonel Light Gardens

Colonel Light Gardens, Mitcham, was a municipal garden suburb built to meet the demand for extra housing. In 1915 the Government purchased land within the Greater Adelaide area, with the intention of building a residential suburb. Charles Reade, Australia’s first government town planner, produced plans in 1917 based on his experience of the Garden City Movement.

Closely following the principles set at Letchworth Garden City, Reade designed a low-density, self-contained community. Distinct areas were created for commercial, residential and recreational activities. Tree-lined streets were laid out in curves as opposed to the prevailing grid layout used in previous suburbs. The area is viewed as being historically important and is now protected.

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With the formation of Australia as an independent nation in 1901, came the need for a capital city for the new Commonwealth of Australia. After the eventual selection a site in the south east of the country in 1908, a competition was held in 1911 to produce a plan for the new city of Canberra.

This was eventually won in 1913 by Walter Burley Griffin who produced a plan based on garden city principles. He created a strong unified design, with main avenue vistas, formal parks and artificial lakes. The plan was amended and implemented by John Sulman with detached properties in generous gardens laid out in geometric patterns. The city has grown and many new suburbs have been added; however its role as the Country’s capital has meant that this expansion has been carefully planned. Several of the older areas of the city remain almost untouched and many of its buildings are now listed.

Plan of City and Environs, 1911, National Archives of Australia
View from Summit of Mount Ainslie, 1911, National Archives of Australia

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Garden city influence can be found in the New Urbanism movement heavily influenced by DPZ which is a husband and wife team Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk.

The first major example of their work is at Seaside in Florida where developer and philanthropist Robert Davis sought to create high quality places following the principles of human scale, strong centres and clear boundaries.  There is a design emphasis on public buildings and civic space with convenient pedestrian paths.  As was the case with Radburn, there are restrictions on cars and garages were restricted to rear areas.

The intention was that the town could be easily accessible by pedestrians with common facilities located within easy walking distance. It is a relatively small settlement of 80 acres housing 2,000 people, but is an example of design guidance and coding ensuring a high quality place, within a master planned approach.

The town was the location for filming of the 1998 movie, ‘The Truman Show’.

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Greenbelt, Maryland was founded in 1937; a planned community built to create work for the large numbers of unemployed that was a consequence of the depression of the 1930s. It formed part of President Roosevelt’s Resettlement programme, Greenbelt, was constructed to provide affordable housing for low income families and to act as a model for future town planning in America.

The programme was developed by Rexford Guy Tugwell, who wanted to establish co-operative communities where the built environment would reinforce community spirit amongst its residents. At its centre were community buildings and surrounded by a crescent of residential streets laid out in superblocks, as utilized at Sunnyside and Radburn. The settlement was managed by the government until its sale in 1952 when the majority of the homes were purchased by a cooperative association formed by the residents, today known as Greenbelt Homes, Inc.

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Greenhills was one of three new towns built during the 1930s as part of Franklin D Roosevelt’s ‘New Deal’.

As the depression deepened during the 1930s, the US Central Government’s Re-settlement Administration considered that new places could be linked to a job creation programme.

The ‘New Deal Re-Settlement Administration’ was headed by Presidential advisor, Rexford Tugwell who denied any Garden City influence, but appears to be a modified version of Howard’s model of satellite settlements outside a major conurbation.  Tugwell described these new towns as, “go outside centres of population, pick up cheap land, build a whole community and entice people back into it”.

The aim was to clear slum areas in the big cities and to make parks of them, which linking to Howard and others concern regarding slums within existing towns and cities.

The intention was to create 100 new communities, however the programme did not receive large scale support at a government level and only three settlements were built at Greenbelt, Greendale and Greenhills.

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Buckingham was constructed in 6 phases near WashingtonDC between 1937 and 1953.

Designed by Wright this also reflected a Garden City design, with low density super blocks, separation of cars and pedestrians, high quality internal spaces and landscaping, with a shopping centre in the middle of the community.

Although some parts of this scheme have been demolished, it largely retains its historic character.

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Chatham Village

Chatham Village, Pittsburgh, was founded in 1932 by the Buhl Foundation, to create a project that would provide work for those made unemployed during the depression. It was designed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright around Garden City principles. Houses in neo-Georgian style were built for lower income families offered on low, long term rents, as a response to the unstable economy in the 1930s. Following the Radburn Plan, Chatham Village features superblocks and inward facing properties surrounding green spaces. Chatham Village has retained its original appearance and the houses remain under the ownership of a resident’s cooperative. Chatham Village has been designated a nationally important historic district.

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Radburn, New Jersey, was designed by Clarence Stein and Henry Wright in 1928 for the City Housing Corporation. It was planned as a “town for the motor age”. The town’s defining feature was the separation of cars and pedestrians; underpasses allowed pedestrians to move around the town without crossing roads and the superblock housing was oriented its living spaces to face the pedestrian walkways and green spaces. These parks and open spaces were landscaped using plants native to region. The City Housing Corporation was declared bankrupt in 1934, leaving the town incomplete causing the surrounding lands to be sold off. It was named a National Historic Landmark in 2005. Radburn has subsequently influenced town planning across North America and particularly the New Town Movement in post-war Britain.

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Sunnyside Gardens

In 1909 the completion of the Queensboro Bridge, New York, opened up new areas for development. This included two neighbourhoods based around garden city principles. Jackson Heights was formed by the Queensboro Corporation, with the aim of creating a self-contained, people-orientated community within the city. It was actively marketed at white middle class residents. It was designated as a historic district in 1993. Forest Hill Gardens was developed by the Russell Sage Foundation to provide affordable homes for working families, however, as at Jackson Heights, the high rents put the apartments beyond the reach of the intended residents. It is now managed as a private estate. Close by is Sunnyside Gardens, built between 1924 and 1928. Its architects, Clarence S. Stein, Henry Wright, and Frederick Lee Ackerman were also inspired by the Garden City Movement. Housing was organised in rows around communal gardens and consisted of private, rental and co-operative dwellings. In 1974 the City gave Sunnyside Gardens protected status and it was designated as a New York City Historic District in 2007.

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Forest Hills Gardens

Forest Hill Gardens, New York, was designed by the architects Grosvenor Atterbury and  Frederick Law Olmsted, funded by the Russell Sage Foundation, which was established for the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States. A model suburban community, the aim of Forest Hills was to provide affordable homes for working families and demonstrate the economic and social viability of a planned suburban development. Despite egalitarian plans to create affordable housing, rents soared beyond the reach of the intended residents and Forest Hills is today a private estate managed via membership of the Forest Hills Gardens Corporation.

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In Canada, the Garden City movement inspired a number of different settlements. Most were based around industrialists rather than a need to manage population or address issues of social reform.

The first example was Walkerville in Ontario. It was developed in the late 19th Century by Hiram Walker, an entrepreneurial whiskey producer, who planned a model town for its workers, similar to the precursors to Letchworth Garden City at Bournville and Port Sunlight.

Walker’s business interests diversified and included welcoming other industries to the town, an influx that was assisted by a new rail terminus.  Most notable was the Ford Motor Company, who set up a branch in the town in 1904. Chrysler, General Motors and Seagrave followed and the population of the town grew significantly with this industrial growth.

Walkerville is separated into 3 sub-districts (business, commercial and residential) and the town enjoys a distinctive high quality appearance with many large homes, as part of a garden community. Much of the original town remains, with a population of 17,000, and is now a classed as a heritage precinct of the city of Windsor.

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Kapuskasing, Ontario was founded in 1921, as a result of the construction of a railway network that allowed the area’s resources to be exploited for the first time. The government created a scheme, whereby lumber companies provided work for those returning from the First World War, in return for concessions on the land. A pulp mill was built in the district and a settlement was required to house its workforce. Concerns about forming a community relying on a single manufacturer led to the addition of other industries. The town and the company were managed separately whilst maintaining a close relationship between them. The area was planned by Alfred Hall, with an emphasis placed on architectural harmony and a healthy living environment. A commercial area formed the centre of the town which was surrounded by residential, tree-lined avenues. These were separated from the industrial areas by green spaces. Many of the original features of the town are now protected.

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Churchill Park Garden Suburb

Churchill Park, Newfoundland, was developed by the Canadian Government in 1944 to build a new suburb on the outskirts of St. Johns. Designed to replace slum housing and solve a housing shortage, the suburb featured garden city features such as curved residential streets and cul-de-sacs connected by green spaces. The development also introduced the latest modern conveniences to social houses including open plan detached properties with central heating and generous gardens. During the following decades the suburb was expanded through the addition of a variety of housing projects including private, co-operatives and military housing. Many the original building have been altered, however it remains a popular area due to it green spaces.

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Don Mills

Don Mills, Toronto, was established in 1952 by Edward Taylor, the Don Mills Development Corporation. Built on 834 hectares of land it was developed to support 32,000 residents. Macklin Hancock was appointed director of planning and he was influenced by both Garden City principles and Clarence Stein’s Radburn. This duel influence resulted in the establishment of a greenbelt, to safeguard against suburban encroachment and the separation of vehicles from pedestrians. Planned industry allowed residents to live and work within Don Mills, and the Don Mills Development Corporation exercised control over architectural design. Don Mills is lauded as an inspiration for modern Canadian suburbs today.

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