Image of theatre: Courtesy of Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery

New towns

During the inter-war years the success of ‘garden city’ and ‘garden suburb’ projects led to many of the new council estates being built on similar lines.

Green spaces

Towards the end of the Second World War, attention was directed to the post-war reconstruction of Britain’s towns and communities. The possibility of building new towns had been accepted in 1945 by a government committee chaired by Lord Reith, the founder of the BBC. The committee included a number of leading figures in the Town and Country Planning Association, originally the Garden Cities Association founded in 1899.

New towns

The 1946 New Towns Act established an ambitious programme for building new towns. It gave the government power to designate areas of land for new town development. A series of ‘development corporations’ set up under the Act were each responsible for one of the projected towns. Stevenage, in Hertfordshire, was the first new town created under the Act, with ten others following by 1955. Most were intended to accommodate the overspill of population from London. Since the 1950s, Parliament has authorised further developments in England, Scotland and Wales.

Town and country planning

Parliament saw it as essential to restrict the growth of large cities. The Town and Country Planning Act of 1947 laid down procedures to control urban sprawl into the countryside. All planning was to be subject to planning permission by local councils. Most importantly, every area of the country was to have a ‘development plan’ showing how each area was either to be developed or preserved.

Did you know?

Over two million people live in towns built under the new towns legislation

Related information

Historic Hansard

The House of Commons debates the Second Reading of the New Towns Bill

The House of Commons debates the Second Reading of the Town and Country Planning Bill