Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/24

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8
OLD TOWNS AND NEW NEEDS

At all events there came a time, early in our civilization, when London was a comparatively small centre of a comparatively large road radiation. That centre was no doubt the subject of a certain amount of deliberate town-planning; the mere fact of fortification which implies, inter alia, concentration within a fixed boundary, must have produced a measure of thoughtful disposition within the boundaries. But even inside the city walls there probably began a demonstration of the subjection to roads, which is one of the strongest factors that defy the economic occupation of land. Every house must have access, and consequently the houses are so built as to line the roads.

As soon as this process is continued outside any town there immediately arises with it a conspicuous hindrance to the profitable distribution of population on the soil.

Any suburban plan will illustrate my meaning. Wedge-shaped spaces of unbuilt area are left between the roads, and access to these spaces for further development is barred by the continuity of the dwellings or shops which line the roads. This difficulty is one which a town-planner with a clean sheet of paper to work on would easily foresee and overcome—but historically it is met by expedients of a makeshift nature, with various uncomfortable results. I should take up too much of your time if I were to describe fully the unsatisfactory consequences of this perfectly natural tendency. I need only mention two. One is that the later development of the land in the wedges leads to its occupation being of a different social character from that on the main roads, either better or meaner, the other that