new towns

new towns

new towns, planned urban communities in Great Britain, developed by long-term loans from the central government and first authorized by the New Towns Act of 1946. The chief purpose of the act was to reduce congestion in the great cities (or at least prevent its increase) through the creation of attractive, healthful urban units that would provide local employment for their residents. The idea goes back to the book by Ebenezer Howard on "garden cities" (1898). It was given impetus by the example of the "new towns" of Letchworth (1903) and Welwyn Garden City (1919-20), both established with private capital. The act of 1946 empowered the government to designate areas (which might or might not already contain an existing municipality) as new towns, to appoint development corporations, and to approve their plans. New towns in Northern Ireland were designed to have development commissions, established and governed under a separate act (1965). New towns were intended to alleviate the growth problems of Greater London, Manchester, and other urban areas. New towns were also designated to stimulate economic growth (Craigavon), to provide needed housing and community services for industrial areas (Corby, Glenrothes, Cwmbrân), or to decentralize population through the expansion of already large towns (Peterborough, Northampton, and Ipswich). Central Lancashire New Town, designated in 1970, represented yet another variation, the "clustertown."

See Sir Frederic Osborn and A. Whettick, The New Towns (2d rev. ed. 1969); H. Evans, ed., New Towns: The British Experience (1972).

Below is a list of some of the new towns in the United Kingdom created under the various New Town Acts of the 20th century.

Designated new towns were removed from local-authority control and placed under the supervision of a Development Corporation. The Corporations were later disbanded and their assets split between local authorities and, in England, the Commission for New Towns (now English Partnerships).

Early new towns


First wave

The first wave was to help alleviate the housing shortages following World War II, in the green belt around London. A couple of sites in County Durham were also designated. These designations were made under the New Towns Act 1946.

Second wave

The second wave (1961–64) was to help assuage housing short falls. Two of the below (Redditch and Telford) are situated near the West Midlands conurbation; another two (Runcorn and Skelmersdale) are situated near Merseyside.

Cramlington and Killingworth were constructed from the 1960s by local authorities but were not designated new towns.

Third wave

The third and last wave of new towns (1967–70) allowed for additional growth chiefly further north from the previous London new towns, with a few developments between Liverpool and Manchester. Dawley New Town was re-designated as Telford New Town, with a much larger area.

Modern developments

No new towns have been designated since 1970.


Modern developments


Future Developments

Northern Ireland

The New Towns Act (Northern Ireland) 1965 gave the Minister of Development of the Government of Northern Ireland the power to designate an area as a New Town, and to appoint a Development Commission. An order could be made to transfer municipal functions of all or part of any existing local authorities to the commission, which took the additional title of urban district council, although unelected. This was done in the case of Craigavon.

The New Towns Amendment Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 was passed to enable the establishment of the Londonderry Development Commission to replace the County Borough and rural district of Londonderry, and implement the Londonderry Area Plan. On April 3, 1969 the development commission took over the municipal functions of the two councils, the area becoming Londonderry Urban District.

Future developments

On 13 May 2007, Gordon Brown, who was shortly to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, announced that he would designate ten new "eco-towns" to ease demand for low-cost housing. The towns, of approximately 20,000 population each—at least 5000 homes—are planned to be "carbon-neutral" and will use locally generated sustainable-energy sources. Only one site was identified in the announcement: the former Oakington Barracks in Cambridgeshire. Local councils will be invited to provide sites for the remaining four towns.

The Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) is advising the Government on the criteria and best practice in developing the eco-towns by producing a series of "worksheets" for developers.

See also


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