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Welwyn Garden City
Author: Thomas Adams (and others)*
Published: 1932 by J. &. A. Churchill
Format: Hardback 10" by 7½" with 400 pages
In 1899 the Garden City Association was formed with the object of promoting Howard's garden city ideas as set out in his 1898 book To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform. In 1901, Ralph Neville, K. C., became chairman of the council of the Association, and Thomas Adams (1871-1940) became its first paid secretary. Adams, a supporter of land reform, had written for Scottish newspapers on social issues, and was a Liberal Party agent. He had moved his family to London in January 1901. Stanley Buder* wrote: Self-confident and ambitious, Adams soon was at odds with Howard and his band of enthusiasts. A down-to-earth man, Adams thought "it a waste of time to set up idealistic utopias of what we would like to do but cannot." He steered away from the garden city idea which he thought narrow. According to Buder: Thomas Adams, condescended to Howard as an amusing figure not to be taken seriously. Adams played a prominent rôle in town planning in Britain and North America after WW-I. He founded the Town Planning Institute in 1914, the American City Planning Institute in 1917, and the Town Planning Institute of Canada in 1919.
*The quotations above are from Visionaries and Planners - The Garden City Movement and the Modern Community, 1990, Stanley Buder.
(image from the Internet)
IN the following pages I have attempted to describe the recent advances and tendencies of town planning in its three phases of law, practice and design. This is, perhaps, the first effort that has been made to give a comprehensive review of all three aspects in one book. Naturally such a task has involved many difliculties, and a great deal of labour in collecting and analysing the data and in trying to deal with a technical and complicated subject in as readable a manner as possible.
It has only been practicable for me to complete the book because of the extent of collaboration I have received.
Mr. F. Longstreth Thompson has made valuable contributions in matter and in the form of constructive criticism. Mr. Maxwell Fry has also assisted in preparing part of the text and has made a number of excellent drawings for illustrations. The main task of collecting and arranging the material and making the first draft of the greater part of the book was undertaken by Mr. James W. R. Adams. He has also taken charge of all the details involved in preparing the final manuscript and illustrations for publication. I am also indebted to Mr. W. Loftus Hare for aid in drafting part of Chapter II and for much editorial assistance, to Mr. Hamlet S. Philpot for notes on Oxford, and to Mr. George L. Pepler for advice and suggestions. Thus, while I alone am responsible for such opinions as the book contains, and for its arrangement and manner of presentation, the credit for much of the authorship has to be assigned to others.
While the book approaches the subject of law and practice of town planning from the British point of view and mainly in relation to conditions in the United Kingdom, a considerable part of it deals with conditions in other countries and especially in the United States.
Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, there may be some matters that are not quite accurately described or that should be dealt with more, or less, fully to maintain a true sense of proportion. I shall welcome any comments or criticisms with a view to future revision.
INTRODUCTION: OBJECTS AND SCOPE OF TOWN PLANNING
CHAPTER I: EARLY PHASES OF THE MODERN TOWN PLANNING MOVEMENT
CHAPTER II: LAW AND PRACTICE IN GREAT BRITAIN, 1909 - 1931
CHAPTER III: LAW AND PRACTICE OUTSIDE GREAT BRITAIN
CHAPTER IV: STUDIES OF EXISTING CONDITIONS AND PROBLEMS
CHAPTER V: ADVISORY REGIONAL PLANS
CHAPTER VI: ADVISORY TOWN DEVELOPMENT PLANS
CHAPTER VII: TOWN PLANNING SCHEMES IN ENGLAND
CHAPTER VIII: PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICE OF ZONING REGULATION
CHAPTER IX: STREETS, ROADS, AND OTHER WAYS
CHAPTER X: OPEN SPACES AND AMENITIES
CHAPTER XI: LOCAL DEVELOPMENT AND SITE PLANNING
CHAPTER XII: TRANSPORTATION, MARKETS AND PUBLIC SERVICES
CHAPTER XIII: TENDENCIES IN LAW AND PRACTICE
Those in red are reproduced at the bottom
In this first excerpt which is from the Introduction, Adams discusses the problems of overcrowding in cities, comparing the views of H. G. Wells with the supporters of garden cities.
There has been much controversy and changing opinion during the past thirty years with regard to what has been called decentralization.
The change of opinion in regard to this matter may in one sense be regarded as representing an advance in theory of town planning; an advance which has been the result, in part, of the development of new factors in town development and, in part, of the experience that there are evils in decentralization as well as in centralization.
The evils of congestion in centres are a consequence of badly organized and ill-planned centralization but not of centralization in itself. The remedy is to be found neither by stemming the tide of outward movement from the centres nor by artificially promoting the outward flow without any improvement of organization and planning.
For ourselves we prefer the term recentralization to define the kind of movement that is wanted to relieve congestion in existing centres. Sporadic and scattered decentralization of industry and population, and particularly of residential population alone has proved to be a cause of such evils as ribbon development. One effect has been the unnecessary spoiling of much of the country adjacent to large centres of population, and another the waste of energy, time and money in unnecessary travel owing to the wide separation of places of residence from places of work.
It is of interest to recall here the arguments of Mr. H. G. Wells in his Anticipations and of Mr. Ebenezer Howard in his Garden Cities of To-morrow on the subject of decentralization. Both books were published towards the close of the nineteenth century.
ANTICIPATIONS OF H. G. WELLS. Wells predicted the possibility of London and Berlin growing to twenty millions, and New York and Chicago to forty millions in population. He claimed, however, that "even forty millions over 31,000 square miles of territory is, in comparison with forty millions over 50 square miles a highly diffused population." He suggested that among the factors that would continue to promote diffusion were the passion for Nature, expressed or disguising itself as a passion for golf or some other sport; secondly, the charm of cultivation and love of beauty; and thirdly, the demand for a real home in the shape of a private house or cottage in its own grounds. Added to these he saw that people would continue to appreciate the healthfulness of the country for younger children and the wholesome isolation from irritating, noisy and dirty atmosphere and streets.
Against these forces there were, and have continued to be, others that Wells thought would diminish in strength; for instance, he visualized some diminution of the advantages of shopping in highly centralized areas. His expectations have proved to be well founded, for in recent years there has been a great increase in suburban shops and a consequent enlargement of suburban business districts. While the most central shopping districts still maintain their strength in attracting business, they do this in face of growing congestion that is tending more and more to reduce their accessibility. Thus the great department store is not overwhelming the small suburban tradesmen to the extent that it did. It is finding it necessary to establish branches in suburban areas. Wells correctly anticipated the doubtful permanence of the delivery organization of these great stores. He anticipated it was conceivable that specialized shops would return. Access to good schools and to the doctor formerly operated to keep people of restricted means in central areas of big cities. It no longer does so. A strong force he anticipated would be more difficult to get rid of was the love of crowds, which included love of amusement and the theatre, of brilliantly lighted streets, of the excitement of the city. But even these cravings are being gratified in large measure as outlying districts develop their own neighbourhood centres. Families are able to do their shopping, enjoy the excitement of crowded and lighted streets and make visits to the theatre without going to the central parts of cities. Londoners engaged in business or professional work still regard London offices as essential, although there has been some dispersal of office work towards the environs in recent years.
Wells went so far as to say that the old town or city would become obsolete and be replaced by outlying residential districts all laced together by new arterial highways. Such districts would be more scattered and more abundantly wooded than existing cities. At least a part of the region would develop its own differences of type and of style. Through the varied country would run new, wide roads with clusters of buildings having their own social conveniences, probably mixing with islands of agriculture. These urban communities, as Wells viewed them, did not need to be any less pleasant or fair than the countryside districts of his day, for with the increase of cities in proper form of growth the essential charm of the country need not disappear. Boundary lines of municipalities would have no meaning, as adjacent municipal areas would have a common centre and be drawn together by a network of communications.
Wells was right in his prophecy of the direction that growth would take, but he failed to see how it would destroy the countryside, unless the spreading population were centralized in new communities rather than scattered in thin lines along arterial roads.
GARDEN CITY PRINCIPLES. The principles set forth by Howard, and later acted upon in building two garden cities at Letchworth and Welwyn, differed from those which underlay the anticipations of Wells. Howard wished to create new centres of population and industry with a view to reducing the pressure on the old centres and the continual expansion of great urban regions. He did not advocate wider diffusion of London, for instance, in scattered settlements all focusing on one centre, but the creation of distinct communities, as independent as possible of existing centres. Although the two methods differed they were both based on the idea that the time was soon coming when urban regions like London would have to get relief from congestion by a combined process of decentralization and recentralization.
In both conceptions the ideal presented was to make the town more healthy by introducing more of the advantages of the country, and to make the country more attractive and healthy by extending to it more of the advantages of the city. This ideal may be regarded as sound so long as it is based on economic tendency, as it appears to be, and so long as new forms of growth are properly planned to avoid the evils that have been proved to accompany haphazard development.
The garden cities founded by Howard are showing the way towards a new conception of the principles on which modern cities should be encouraged to expand in preserving open areas within and about cities for agriculture as well as to encourage the development of new urban centres.
A productive agricultural belt or
wedge should be as essential as the public park or playground in the larger
urban regions of the future. Well-planned centres and sub-centres with
large open spaces surrounding them form the ideal arrangement. If the
large modern industrial city is to be preserved from decay and disintegration
when it grows still larger, it must develop a system of lungs on a greater
scale than hitherto between its surrounding nerve centres. This system
of open space should include productive areas whether of forest or cultivated
fields as well as areas for active recreation. The need of the population
for unspoilt natural open space is greater than its need for recreative
space and greater than it is practicable to provide on a non-productive
basis. Large areas of land near and within towns can be more economically
used for agricultural production than for building, because they are either
inaccessible or otherwise unsuitable for building.
This second excerpt, from Chapter I, is concerned with garden cities and garden suburbs.
Garden Cities and Suburbs
The places we have been describing were villages developed around single industries. The objectives of the founders were to obtain room for expansion of their factories and good living conditions for their workers. Incidentally they proved the economic value of removing an industry from a crowded centre to an open situation in the environs of a city, where land was cheap and transportation facilities could be provided on the most modern principles. They also proved the practicability of moving the workers as well as the plant and of increasing their efficiency as a result of the movement so long as good housing conditions and social amenities were provided.
In proportion as such schemes were carried out without too much paternalism, that is, without the employer attempting to control the workers outside the factory to a greater degree in the factory village than in the larger city, they have been both commercially and socially a success. But they were indications of how to solve the problem rather than effective solutions; for it is obvious that only a few great manufacturers could follow such examples by providing the capital necessary to house their workers. Moreover, the danger of paternalism, or even suspicion of its presence, must always be a detriment in a community that is initiated by an employer of labour.
In 1898, about the time that Mr. Cadbury was finding his feet in establishing Bournville, Mr. (later Sir) Ebenezer Howard published the book entitled Garden Cities of To-morrow, to which we have referred in previous chapters. Howard advocated the establishment of self-contained industrial communities by organized efforts of private citizens. The history of the origin and progress of Garden City movement has been fully described elsewhere. We will not attempt to do more here than to give a summary of the principles on which the movement was founded and to indicate its influence in promoting scientific town planning.
These principles were :-
LETCHWORTH. Based on these principles a new town was planned and has been developed at Letchworth, in Hertfordshire, on an estate of 3 ,800 acres (since increased to 4,500) acquired in 1903. In the respects in which we are chiefly concerned this experiment has been a great success. It soon demonstrated to the public satisfaction, first, that decentralization of industry must proceed side by side with decentralization of population to obtain relief of congestion in existing cities; second, that effective town planning could only be obtained by dealing with land before it was built upon; and that there was no sound economic reason for crowding houses on the land above an average density of 10 or 12 per acre, thereby permitting each house to have garden space.
Mr. Howard's theories in certain main features were an elaboration of those which Mr. Lever and Mr. Cadbury had proved to be sound in practice - namely, that it would pay manufacturers to move from crowded Cities like London to new sites where land could be acquired at agricultural value, and that workers could be persuaded to move along with the factories. It was recognized in Mr. Howard's conception, as in the other developments, that any site chosen for a garden city must have good transportation facilities; that the developing company must make provision for supplying water, power, and light; and that it should have adequate and wholesome housing accommodation. Starting de novo gave opportunities for this provision being made in accordance with a well-conceived plan and more healthfully and economically than in existing crowded cities that had grown up without planning. Howard's theoretical elaboration of the Port Sunlight-Bournville practice was the conception of a city of many diversified factories providing occupation for a wide variety of workers; a complete small city and not a mere village or suburb; and a city in which the increment of value created by converting the agricultural land into building land would provide both an economic foundation for its commercial success and a fund for benefiting the community as a whole, and not only a few individuals.
While in variety of function he thought of a comprehensive city, in size he conceived of a restricted community. The urban area was to be artificially limited to provide for a population of about 30,000, the method of restriction being the opposite to that of building a wall, namely, of establishing a belt of land permanently reserved for agriculture. Expansion of the city beyond the above limit was to be provided for by forming a new city region outside the agricultural belt. Incidentally, this reservation of farming territory on the borders of the city was to provide for growing food near to a new market with the resulting economies of such proximity between producer and consumer.
It is not necessary here to examine in what respects and in what degrees the ideals of Howard bore fruit or were barren in result when put to the test of practical experience. Some of the things he counted on most, for instance, the extent of increases in value of raw land due to building, and the commercial value of an agricultural belt did not come out as well as he anticipated. But the benefits of town planning, of spacious housing conditions, of providing room and facilities for recreation, and of deriving profit from a well-organized system of production of gas and electricity have all been as great as he visualized.
Town planning law in England, as compared with that of other countries, probably derives its chief significance from what it contains as a result of the garden city movement. This significance is in the breaking down of the barriers to restriction of building densities, with the effect of removing the chief difficulty in obtaining healthy housing accommodation. Largely as a result of the Garden City movement the standard of housing density in English town planning schemes is now 12 to the acre on the average, with 20 as a possible maximum, instead of 20 and 40, which formerly prevailed.
Letchworth has now many industries and its population in 1931 was 14,454. Its plan was prepared in 1903 by Messrs. Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin.
WELWYN. Although the garden city at Welwyn was not developed until after the passing of the Town Planning Act it may be referred to here as a further experiment promoted by Howard to test his theories in practice. It has been established in accordance with the same principles on which Letchworth was founded. Being nearer to London by some 14 miles, however, it is less self-contained and, although it has a considerable number of industries, it has a large resident population that travels daily to and from work in London. In the 1931 Census its population was given as 8,585 and showed a decennial increase of 1019.3 per cent., the most rapid increase in England.
The Welwyn estate covered 2,400 acres and was planned by Messrs. Louis de Soissons and Arthur W. Kenyon. It is an example of good formal treatment in which the cul-de-sac street has been largely used with greater success than at Letchworth. Also, it possesses unusually fine architectural features.
HAMPSTEAD GARDEN SUBURB. When Tomorrow was published, Mrs. (now Dame) Henrietta Barnett was carrying out, with her husband, Canon Barnett, their great social work in Toynbee Hall in the East of London. She had already thought of the need of developing a suburb outside of London where she could create a social experiment that would show the way to secure better housing conditions for those living in the crowded districts. Through her efforts, and aided by the interest aroused by the Garden Cities movement, there was established at Hampstead an important experiment in building a garden suburb. She enlisted the services of Mr. Raymond Unwin to make a plan for the suburb and develop it as a place of residence for different classes of the community. It was one of her objects to secure that the comparatively rich should live in the same neighbourhood as the comparatively poor.
In its town planning features, which alone interest us, Hampstead Garden Suburb is probably the best planned of modern neighbourhoods in the London Region (see Frontispiece). Its features have been regarded as a model in other parts of Great Britain, as well as abroad. It has achieved a unique success in the following respects :-
From an architectural point of view the suburb has also been, especially in its earlier development, well designed and arranged. An interesting variety has been obtained in accordance with sound principles of design and in combination with most agreeable landscape effects. The total area of the Estate is about 652 acres. There are 1,800 houses on the older part of the estate, controlled by the Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust, which part covers an area of 240 acres. In addition, a large number of houses have been erected on the remaining 412 acres, being developed by Co-partnership societies.
HOUSING ESTATES. One of the outcomes of the combined garden
city and town planning movements was the development of the co-partnership
movement in housing, under the leadership of the late Henry Vivian, Sir
John Brunner, Bart., Earl Grey and others interested in co-operative methods.
This movement had the effect of promoting the establishment of a number
of neighbourhood developments in which town planning principles were successfully
employed. Some of the best of these co-partnership enterprises were associated
with the Garden City and Garden Suburb projects. Large parts of Letchworth
Garden City and Hampstead Garden Suburb have been developed by the Co-Partnership
Tenants, Ltd., and subsidiary companies. Independent estate developments
also have been carried out by the same group of companies in a number
of places such as at Brentham, in Ealing. The total area in process of
development is 750 acres inclusive of the 412 in the Hampstead Garden
Suburb already alluded to. In all cases architectural advice was employed
in securing the application of good design to the lay-out of the estates
and building of houses, and each co-partnership estate has some features
that represent an advance in neighbourhood planning over what existed
before they were established.
This final excerpt I have chosen is from Chapter XI and is about culs-de-sac.
in the Site Plan
CLOSES AND CULS-DE-SAC. What we have said as to the mistake of mere pattern making in planning the general lay-out of streets applies also to the closed-in places and culs-de-sac. Perhaps there is no detail in site planning that has led to so much imitation as the planning of culs-de-sac. Yet it is difficult to imagine any detail that requires more originality in design or closer study of each case. Simple conventional patterns are easy to imitate, but such departures from them as are made by skilful planners to meet special local conditions cannot successfully be reproduced unless the conditions are identical.
In recent years the necessity for economy, for privacy and for freedom from the noise and vibration of street traffic, and the desire for architectural effect in grouping of small houses, have led to the increased use of the cul-de-sac and close in new residential developments. The advantages of the cul-de-sac can only be obtained when it is planned in relation to the general street system of an area. When used without proper discrimination as part of a complete plan, or for some selfish reason, such as closing a street in the financial interest of an individual owner, it may lead to inconvenience and waste.
The use of culs-de-sac may be justified even when the cost of development is greater with them than without them. But usually it will be found that the introduction of culs-de-sac cheapens or, at least, does not increase the cost of streets and services. This can only be ascertained by preparation of comparative estimates of cost of land, sewers and drains, water and lighting services, roads and walks, and as to whether or not the closed-in streets will result in inconvenience to local traffic.
Mr. Barry Parker, in a paper on Economy in Estate Development,* pointed out that "consideration is given to every penny spent on the cottages while many inconsidered pounds per cottage are being wasted by roads not being so contrived as to afford access to as many cottages as they might . . . . had all that is now known about the innumerable ways in which a given length of road may be made to afford access to a greater number of cottages been applied to the lay-out." The paper is illustrated by a number of comparative diagrams of considerable interest. Two of these are reproduced here, of which Mr. Parker says: "How frequently development from a 'rim' road inwards, such as is shown in Fig. 74, has been adopted without its being realized that development from a 'hub' outwards as shown in Fig. 75, by substituting a small ring road for a large one, effects a saving which certainly runs into four figures and at the same time provides access to 32 more cottages, and so still further reduces the lengths and costs of roads per cottage." The diagrams reproduced illustrate in a striking manner the possibilities of economy in estate development.
[* Published in the Journal of the Town Planning Institute, June, 1928.]
The attitude of the local authority to closed-in streets or places has to be considered before deciding upon their adoption. If the local authority refuse to take over dead-end streets for public maintenance, it may well be a determining factor in deciding against their use.
Local conditions and demands of purchasers or tenants of houses will have a great effect upon the widths and design of approaches to houses on cul-de-sac streets. If the principle be accepted that every dwelling must have a garage incorporated as part of the house or situated on the premises, there is considerably less possibility of effecting any great economy in road construction in the case of cul-de-sac development. Where, however, as in Welwyn Garden City, it is considered satisfactory to provide private garages accessible from the main road, a cul-de-sac can be satisfactorily served with an 8 to 12 foot carriageway and a large turn around, the latter providing facilities for standing vehicles.
There are matters of detail connected with drainage, the laying of water and electrical supply mains, and other services that can only be dealt with economically when these details are taken into consideration in making the street plan.
The principles of cul-de-sac development, combined with the honeycomb type of lay-out, have been adopted by Mr. Barry Parker in planning an estate at Wythenshawe, for the Manchester Corporation. Some of the best examples of the practicable application of cul-de-sac streets, and of open quadrangles with private driveway entrances, are to be seen at Welwyn Garden City and Hampstead Garden Suburb.
The manner in which each piece of land is laid out in streets and building plots determines to a great extent the final appearance of the district in which it lies. A skeleton town plan may provide a good basis for town development, and yet the final result may be bad if the areas intervening between the main thoroughfares consist of a conglomeration of badly planned and unco-ordinated units.
A town planning scheme should contain provisions for the control of estate developments, for extending co-operation between local authorities and owners of property to the planning of sites, notwithstanding that the details of site planning are best omitted from such schemes. There are several examples of good planning carried out by private individuals and corporations ranging from the small industrial village of a single manufacturer to the Garden Cities of Letchworth and Welwyn. Since the war, however, the most extensive site planning has been undertaken by local authorities under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, and there now exists throughout the country a great number of well-planned cottage estates. The great experience gained from the planning and development of these schemes should be used as a basis for drawing up a more comprehensive statement of principles than now exists, for the guidance of land developers in future.