Page:Old Towns and New Needs.djvu/55

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The Town Extension Plan


By Raymond Unwin, F.R.I.B.A.


There is only one way by which we may be compensated in this country for delaying until now to undertake the proper arrangement of our towns, namely to profit by the experience that has been gained in other countries, and so to avoid their mistakes and improve upon their successes. If we are to do this, we must not only study what other countries have done, but we must base our estimate of the results of what we may propose upon a study of our towns, and that study must be sufficiently thorough to enable us to distinguish between accidental effects, due to some custom which may be modified, and essential effects dependent on economic laws.

I do not mean that our customs, our land tenure, or the particular form in which we raise our revenue, for example, are not important factors; but, that town-planning must as far as possible be based on the essential facts; for economic laws have a wonderful way of asserting themselves in spite of accidental customs. If it were not so, building and town development must have been brought to a standstill long ago by our custom of raising nearly the whole of the revenue for local administration by means of rates, which are virtually a tax on the rent of buildings. We are