Yes, We Do Need 250 New Towns

Anthony Fyson,, kindly hopes that the 250 New Towns Club initiative will flourish. Yes, an ‘astounding number’ of new towns, or their equivalent, should be constructed, if this country’s next generation is to be housed as well as, or better than, the current one. Globally, at least one new home every second needs building to provide for additional population over the next 20 years, raising questions over where, how and with what transport and freedom of movement. More people means more brains and hands to produce future research, innovation, technology and wealth, but we need big thinking, imagination and determined action now to achieve it all. In fact, capturing some of the spirit shown by politicians, civil servants, architects, planners and builders in the post-war New Towns movement and giving it a 21C twist would not go amiss. The New Towns and Town Expansion Schemes are still the largest building programmes ever achieved in the Western world, so we need to celebrate their successes and relearn from their failures. More recent intensification on brownfield sites and in city centres, and ‘smarter’ or ‘compact’ cities, have proven problematic, very limited and ineffective, in the face of the scale of demand for decent housing, jobs and transport.

The 250 New Towns Club welcomes all those willing to put their faith in ordinary people creating the solutions to these problems. A ‘reality gap’ is growing between the many of us having great difficulty in accessing decent housing, work and low-cost transport and energy, and an elite of pontificating politicians and their ‘experts’. Those who are increasingly advising, telling, nudging, or forcing us to live in ways that suits their agendas, be it in the name of sustainability, well-being, happiness, cohesion, engagement or localism. Cautious endorsements were given on 9 September by Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the TCPA, and by the Housing Minister Grant Shapps on the Radio 4 programme You and Yours. Listen again on

For those willing to learn how to get practical, get back to basics and build, the next meeting of the 250 New Towns Club is 10.00, Saturday 9 October 2010 at the Building Centre, Store Street. The programme and details for registration can be downloaded from, including a discussion about Croydon.


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