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Many think they know the story – it was a top-down,state-led initiative which imposed large built-up areas oncommunities that didn’t want them; a process that resultedin car-dominated modernist estates which have largelyfailed. Similarly, although Garden Cities have received a lotof political and media interest in recent years, they areoften dismissed as old-fashioned – the product of anoutdated concept that led to bland, low-density suburbanenvironments. But anyone who has actually visited theplaces that were created, or has taken the time tounderstand the detail of the various developments, knowsthat the reality is far more complex. The Garden Cities andthe New Towns were visionary experiments in finding abetter way to live and are today part of an evolving storyof urbanism across the UK from which we still have a lot to learn.
This report is the result of a two-stage research projectinto the lessons – both good and bad – from the Garden Cities and the post-war New Towns programme. Theresearch has ventured beneath the surface of manycommon assumptions about these two initiatives, and thisreport demonstrates that the approaches they used arenow more relevant than ever.