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International Socialism, Summer 1965


Hilary Rose

Sketch Map


From International Socialism, No.21, Summer 1965, p.31.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


Town and Country Planning in England and Wales
J.B. Cullingworth
Allen & Unwin, 36s.

Cullingworth’s book briefly chalks out the development of Town and Country planning from the first Act in 1909 well within the sanitary tradition in housing, throughout the chaos of the inter-war years to the optimism of the post-war reconstruction period.

The second concern is to set out the machinery of planning. Inevitably this contains largish chunks of government documents, which although indigestible are extraordinarily useful as a guide to a complex aspect of government.

The third and longest section of the book deals with some of the most pressing current concerns. Some are old friends which the author himself has written up more extensively elsewhere, such as urban growth and overspill, land values and urban renewal. Others are new, such the discussion of the conflicts between the administrative machinery and the planners’ aims, or the discussion of amenity, that is the general environment, and its close correlate, the provision for leisure.

Cullingworth has not provided much in the way of answers, but he does pull together the problems. Considerable research and study of the administrative machinery as well as the difficult definitional problems like those posed by the concept of amenity, is clearly demanded, before the answers can begin coming.

At the same time a new note is sounded in planning, the postulate that people must be involved in the creation of their own cities. The highly successful consortium of local authorities school building arrived through continuous study not only of technology but of the schools themselves. From the reports of Coventry and Rochdale we gather that the ideal planner is no longer a single-minded steamroller but instead is to listen and interpret. Listening, coupled with major inroads into the technical problems posed here could create a significantly different society. Towards this Cullingworth’s book stands as a useful sketch map, if not a blueprint.

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