The Big Stuff – Planning Gets Started
Chapter 1 explains how modern town planning was first conceived as a reaction to the problems of the 19th century industrial city. At its heart was the realisation that to give all people a decent home and overall environment required a way of recouping increases in land value for the public good. It describes how this was first achieved on the ground in Britain with the construction of the first Garden Cities at Letchworth and Welwyn in the 1920s. At about the same time, the first council housing was built, with programmes continuing through to the 1970s. The late 1940s saw the start of the New Towns programme where the state could acquire greenfield sites at existing use value. The 1947 Town and Country Planning Act not only introduced a comprehensive planning system but also taxed increases in land value. This tax was repealed in the early 1950s, but the construction of new towns continued through into the 1970s. The most notable example from the 1970s was the new city of Milton Keynes. Not only was it on a larger scale than any new settlement before or since, but it was to provide important lessons on dealing with the challenges posed by motor vehicles.