The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


#108. New Towns, the Modernist Planning Project and Social Justice


27 September 1999

Authors: Jane Hobson

Publication Date: 1999

By 2005 over half the world's population will be living in urban areas. These will include an estimated 26 cities with populations over 10bn million, of which 21 will be in developing countries (UN, 1993, cited in Badshah, 1996). Many megacities already suffer from well-documented problems of poverty, overcrowding, and poor infrastructure, housing and sanitation. In the twentieth century, one attempted solution to real and perceived problems of large cities has been the construction of small new urban areas, intended to redistribute population and activities from the main city, creating a new form of urban society.

In the North, national new towns programmes have been implemented in the post-1945 era, but have become increasingly discredited. However, when Relph states that 'the planning of new towns is an idea whose time has passed' (1987: 157), he is referring only to the North. New town planning as a policy has survived in the South, notably in Egypt, Brazil and Nigeria (Stewart, 1996).

As urban populations rise, new towns may be considered a planning option in attempting to relieve the pressures on mega-cities in other developing countries. This paper focuses on two new towns, Milton Keynes, considered 'the epitome of Britain's new towns' (Potter, 1991: 297), and 6th October, one of Egypt's more successful new towns.

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