Five of Ebenezer Howard’s ideas that may have accidentally been omitted from the new garden city proposals



Here are a few extracts from Ebenezer Howard’s work Garden Cities of Tomorrow, which give an insight into some of the work’s more pioneering ideas, particularly those that may – for some reason – be overlooked in the planning of the new garden city in Bicester, Oxfordshire. (The quotations are taken from the second edition, published by Swan Sonnenschein & Co., Ltd in 1902.)

A rent-based system of contribution to a collective trust
“One essential feature of the plan is that all ground rents, which are to be based upon the annual value of the land, shall be paid to the trustees, who, after providing for interest and [a] sinking fund, will hand the balance to the Central Council of the new municipality to be employed by such Council in the creation and maintenance of all necessary public works.”

A means of creating public benefit from rising land values
“The land, as we have seen, is vested in trustees, who hold it in trust (after payment of the debentures) for the whole community, so that the entire increment of value gradually created becomes the property of the municipality, with the effect that though rents may rise, and even rise considerably, such rise in rent will not become the property :of private individuals, but will be applied in relief of rates. It is this arrangement which will be seen to give Garden City much of its magnetic power.”

Employment in manufacturing within the garden city itself
“On the outer ring of the town are factories, warehouses, dairies, markets, coal yards, timber yards, etc., all fronting on the circle railway, which encompasses the whole town, and which has sidings connecting it with a main line of railway which passes through the estate. This arrangement enables goods to be loaded direct into trucks from the warehouses and workshops, and so sent by railway to distant markets, or to be taken direct from the trucks into the warehouses or factories”

A concentric plan of parkland, amenities and housing
“Walking still toward the outskirts of the town, we come upon “Grand Avenue”. This avenue is fully entitled to the name it bears, for it is 420 feet wide and, forming a belt of green upwards of three miles long, divides that part of the town which lies outside Central Park into two belts. It really constitutes an additional park of 115 acres—a park which is within 240 yards of the furthest removed inhabitant.”

The ownership in trust by the city of  agricultural land 
“[The plan] also embraces a system of rate-rents by which many of the farmer’s hard-earned sovereigns, hitherto lost to him by being paid away to his landlord, shall return to his exhausted exchequer, not indeed in the form in which they left it, but in a variety of useful forms, such as roads, schools, markets, which will assist him most materially, though indirectly, in his work, but which, under present conditions, entail so severe a burden as to make him naturally slow to see their inherent necessity”


About cosmopolitanscum

Journalist, writer, commentator, blogging about architecture, urbanism and design from a humanist perspective.
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