The scope and purpose of town planning in Britain : The experience of the second town planning act, 1919 to 1933

Gunby, Derek S. (1987). The scope and purpose of town planning in Britain : The experience of the second town planning act, 1919 to 1933. PhD thesis The Open University.



The broad aim of this study is to develop a greater understanding of modern British Town Planning by examining, in depth, its operation during the 1920s and early 1930s, i. e. the period of the Second Town Planning Act.

Two main themes are explored; the ideology of town planning and, the practical achievements of the activity. These are studied in their national context and in several empirical studies of events on Teesside and in Hartlepool.

The ideology of town planning is seen to be dominated by the notion of consensus. This is seen as part of a wider process in British political life. Such a notion fitted into the view of town planning as a non-political, technical activity. In practice, it is demonstrated that consensus was rarely achieved and dominant landowning forces usually achieved their ends in any conflict over land-use with the aid of the Ministry of Health.

The practical achievements of town planning in this period are generally portrayed as weak and of little interest. This study demonstrates that although the scope of town planning was deliberately limited it was reasonably successful in meeting its objectives. The experience of town planning by growing numbers of local authorities in the 1920s and early 1930s helped to lay the foundation of modern town planning. Without this experience it is doubtful if the accomplishments of town planning in the 1940s and 1950s would have been possible.

Whilst the experience of town planning between 1919 and 1933 is seen to be much richer and more important than commonly realised the scope and purpose of the activity is seen as limited from the outset by narrow political objectives.

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