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The Influences of Early Planning Principles on the Current Planning System in England (Coursework Sample)

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Part 1 – Explain why the Times Reporter seemed rather doubtful about Sir Ebenezer Howard’s aspirations. Part 2 - By comparing and contrasting early planning initiatives from 1667 onwards provide a reasoned commentary on the legacy left from Sir Ebenezer Howard’s aspirations, influence and developments from the early 1900’s. Outline your own opinion on how town and cities in Great Britain have developed since the implementation of some of Sir Howard’s initiatives paying particular attention to the introduction of New Towns and how these have shaped planning today. Please present your submission in the form of a properly presented single Report which encompasses both Part 1 and 2 which outlines your explanation and opinion supported by actual facts.

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The Influences of Early Planning Principles on the Current Planning System in England
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The Influences of Early Planning Principles on the Current Planning System in England
Introduction
The development of early planning in England has been attributed to a number of pioneer planners who contributed significantly to the emergence of the English buildings we see today. Born in the 1850, Sir Ebenezer Howard is one of the leading 19th and 20th century planners who contributed to the growth of English planning. Howard authored the article titled ‘tomorrow: a peaceful path to real reform’, a publication that provided a description of the utopian cities (Howard, 2010).
In such cities, occupation was based on harmonious coexistence with nature and the balance of the ecosystem. Though attributed to the initiation of practical town planning in England, the article received mixed reviews from professionals. In 1898, a reporter to the Times newspaper referred to this publication as ‘an ingenious and rather entertaining attempt-only difficulty id to create it’. This demonstrated a doubtful review towards the article and its implications on early planning in England (Howard, 2010).
Part 1
The reporter amplified the views of many on the works of Howard who feel they lack the appropriate inspiration for planning in the country. Through his urban city perspective, Howard developed a planning approach that integrating the need for green belts and neighborhoods. The garden city idea involved the development of buildings that included retail malls and created room for new towns. In his publication, Howard demonstrated a preoccupation with social and economic questions. This was quite different from the spatial approaches that had been conceived by pioneer planners. Through providing a perception that differed from the late Victorian Britain, Howard postulated an England free from overcrowding and congestion through garden city (Hall, Hardy & Ward, 2003).
The sentiment of the Times reporter reflected those shared by early critics to Howard’s publication on the garden cities. Hall and ward described the green city as a brilliant idea that lack in proper mechanism for implementation. Howard himself developed the framework and faced significant challenges in implementing it, a demonstration of the views expressed by the reporter.
When the garden city was introduced, investors were not convinced of the viability and potential to increase the value of their investments. Most investors during this period appreciated the benefits of land and acquired large parcels for investment purposes. The proposal of Howard that involved acquiring large tracts of productive land did not make economic sense to them.
While developing the garden city idea, Howard failed to appreciate the fact that it would work if it created much value as compared to the city of London. Instead, it provided explanations on how the land values could be manipulated to increase the value of the project to the investors. The productivity of the garden city is the only way out of measuring the viability of the project. Failure to show the value of the city irrespective of the funds invested demonstrated the difficulty in achieving it (Hall, Hardy & Ward, 2003).
According to Stauer (2000), Howard had developed and conceptualized his concept constructively by 1902 so he should have devoted his time to sourcing for funding. The main challenge to the green city even during Howard’s time is the allocation of the most suitable site. Though the garden city association had over 1,300 members with a number of distinguished members of the society, they made no attempt to raise £20,000 to initiate the project. The project failed to kick off despite the enormous investments made on it.
The investment needed £300,000 to finance the cost of attracting investors to the project. As a result of the nature of the project, this figure would increase to over £600,000 even before the initial investment could be raised. To complete the payment to the investors, the garden city took over 10 years with a payment of about 1% per annum. By 1945, the complete payoff for the investment had not been completed, and this affected the feasibility of Howard’s idea (Parsons & Schuyler, 2002).
As a demonstration of the difficulty posted by the Times reporter, Howard himself made an attempt to change the rules. He proposed the idea that the Letchworth garden city should adopt a philanthropic financing. By philanthropy, Howard eliminated the need for having investors undertake the project further showing the economic challenges of accomplishing the idea. His suggestion was not supported by other members of the board, and this resulted to his elimination from the financial decisions concerning the project (Freestone, 2006).
After attempts to realize the goals of Howard, the Letchworth city was conceived with the ideas of Raymond Unwin and Barry Parker taking prominence. The second challenge was yet to be addressed after the completion of the project. Based on the plan of Howard, the city will attract a maximum number of occupants within the shortest time possible. This was not to be the case as it over 35 years for the city to attract 15,000 occupants. This number of less than half the total population that Howard projected in his publication. Residential occupants formed the largest population of the occupants as firms were unwilling to occupy the city due to its design (Hall, Hardy & Ward, 2003).
Apart from the garden cities, Howard publications also provided an insightful advice on the development of recreational areas in the suburbs. These were to meet the demands of the affluent in this part of the country. Through this plan, Howard argued that the land should be divided into ‘plotlands’ or small plots which could be used for holiday homes (Howard, 2010).
However, this failed to see the trends of migration that had gripped the country at the time. Most of the suburb occupants were moving into cities and towns for jobs and education, as opposed to farming in the remote parts of the country. Therefore, Howard’s publication failed to provide the momentum that it was meant to create both in the city. This is because it failed to factor in a number of factors which affected the realization of his plans in the city and the suburbs (Howard, 2010).
Part 2
Though the publication received criticism, the legacy of sir Ebenezer Howard lived beyond his days. His work has impacted significantly on the architectural planning and development in England since the early 1900s. Different towns and cities have witnessed massive developments due to the initiatives that he made especially in the introduction of new towns (Parsons & Schuyler, 2002).
According to freestone (2006), the traces of the garden city as manifested by Howard can be seen in different buildings today. The aspirations of Howard are not just in buildings but can also be visualized in the socio-economic and environmental settings that planning took from the early 1900s. Though critics may argue that the aspirations were never adopted, the plans envisaged by Howard are visible in new towns and garden settlements coming up today.
By developing the metropolitan strategies for different regions, Howard provided a concept on satellite development and the approach to be adopted in the expansion of towns. By capturing the ideas of ‘slumless’ and ‘smokeless’ cities in his Garden Cities of Tomorrow book, Howard provided a guide that has been used to develop the cities of great Britain. In the ‘smokeless’ and ‘slumless’ concept developed by Howard, cities with form a ring like arrangement with social cities, central cities and the middle cities (Hall, Hardy & Ward, 2003).
This idea and picture by Howard was translated and actualized by Unwin as captured in his book, ‘nothing gained by overcrowding’. Though Letchworth was considered as a demonstration of the difficulty in actualizing Howard’s aspirations, it is considered as one of the best designed community own suburban. Hall et al (2003) describe Letchworth as falling short of the aspirations of Howard but providing a critical demonstration that his aspirations were workable (Stauer, 2000).
By developing the social city, Howard had an aspiration of developing decent and better living places for people. These ideals of better living environments with greatly designed homes live today in the hearts and minds of many planners who develop structures following his aspiration. Currently, different cities in great Britain and beyond have developed the polycentric approach which borrows much from the tradition developed by Howard. For example, the development of Tsukuba express line in japan has been developed following the aspirations of Howard (Freestone, 2006).
Through his aspirations, Howard postulated the emergence of better residences for people, connected to other parts of the country with high transit systems. Many cities in the world today have the garden city planning approach which was originally devel...
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