Britain's 'New Towns' Offer Lessons for Addressing Country's Housing Shortage

The mixed successes of Britain's post-war 'new town' and 'expanded town' developments offer some valuable lessons for those seeking to solve the country's acute housing shortage.

"The legacy of Britain’s new towns overall is mixed," says The Economist. "There are 22 of them across the country, as well as several 'expanded towns'. Together, they are home to around 2m people. Built between the 1940s and 1960s, they were the product of the post-war centralised state, which aimed to demolish Britain’s bombed-out Victorian slums and build new rationally planned, semi-rural settlements."

"Even now, success is unevenly spread between them. More northern ones such as Redditch and Corby, still rely heavily on manufacturing for employment. Those near London lean more on commuting and the capital’s outgrowths."

"Yet the lesson of the new towns is that being linked into a bigger city fosters growth. Their success owes much to the other part of 1940s planning—the tight green belts which still surround big cities and squeeze investment farther out. The notion that they would be self-contained economies has largely failed."

Full Story: Paradise lost


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