Old Towns and New Needs; also the Town Extension Plan/The Town Extension Plan
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 accustomed to hear alarmist cries whenever it is proposed to raise a small amount of revenue from some particular class of property, whether it be a threatened 2s. duty on the miller's corn or a ½d. tax on undeveloped land values; but if such taxes could ruin an industry, what are we to say of rates? By rates we raise in England and Wales sixty-four million pounds per annum, and the tax amounts on the average to 6s, 2¾d. in the pound. Even the income tax which is assessed on the whole of the tax-payer's income, irrespective of the class of property, only amounts to about £37,000,000 for the United Kingdom. We are therefore raising in rates from one particular class of property in England and Wales nearly double the amount that we raise by the income tax. If really disastrous effects follow from taxes upon one or other particular class of property, I think you will admit that it is rather wonderful that any of us have houses to live in or factories to work in. I believe that this particular method of raising local revenue does add to the difficulty of adequately housing the people and accommodating their industries in suitable buildings; but the essential fact after all is that the public have to pay for local administration as well as for national administration; and that, though one way may be better than another way, other things will to a large extent accommodate themselves to the particular method adopted. There can be no doubt, for example, that if we abolished rates, and put the whole of the local government taxes upon ground rents, though the tenant might not have to pay for his house quite as much in additional ground rent as he saved in rates, and though for a time many owners of ground rents would be hard hit by the change, still the land-owners would in the long run be able to transfer much of that tax back again upon the tenants in the form of increased ground rent.
Let us consider what are the essentials in connection with town development, and in what way the town's growth may be assisted by a proper Extension Plan. If we were planning a new town the matter would be less complicated; we could begin from first principles; but in ninety -nine cases out of a hundred what we are called upon to do is to make a plan to provide for the extension of an existing town. Therefore, the town-planner must first be sure that he thoroughly understands the life and needs of the community for whose extension he has to provide: hence, the study of the existing town can hardly be too thorough if the best results are to be attained. Here we may learn something from other countries, notably from Germany, where town-planning has been practised for many years: we may see the grave mistakes that have been made in some of their early town plans for want of this careful study of the existing town and its economic circumstances. That this is now thoroughly appreciated is proved by the wonderful study which has been made of the town of Düsseldorf, and the careful series of plans which have been prepared, embodying the results of this great civic survey, for the purpose of conveying the information in an easily grasped form to town-planners, who have been asked by the municipality of that city to enter a great competition for the preparation of a new Extension Plan for Düsseldorf. It is only necessary to study their diagrams to realise the thoroughness with which this work has been done. The city of Düsseldorf began seriously to plan for its extension in 1888, and has therefore had some twenty -four years experience of this work. As a result of previous extravagance in the width and number of roads, the cost of the development of land has so increased that it is becoming less and less possible to build self-contained houses within the city for people of moderate means; and there has resulted a tendency for the people to be crowded into huge blocks of tenement and flat dwellings. This tendency has not gone nearly so far in Düssseldorf as it has in other German towns, Berlin for example; but the citizens are anxious now to check the tendency, and hence the care devoted to the subject in the survey. It is very remarkable that our country, which has for a century and a half watched the wonderful economies and the great progress which have resulted from the application of proper organisation and foresight to the carrying on of great industrial concerns, is only now beginning to realise that there may be some need to apply similar principles of foresight and organisation to the development of our great industrial centres, our towns and cities. It is difficult to see how we can have imagined in the past that it was safe to leave our towns to grow haphazard, the owner of each bit of land not only free to develop it just as he liked, without any central control, but even powerless if he wished to effect anything outside his own immediate boundary. What wonder that a hopeless jumble has resulted? But for the few old country highways leading into the town, matters would have been ten times worse; as it is, except where such highways have saved the situation, it is usually impossible to get a direct route within our towns from anywhere to anywhere. No provision whatever has been made for expansion; roads that must obviously at an early date need to be widened to accommodate growing traffic, have been allowed to be lined on each side with property built close up to the road. Railways have been allowed to hem in the town without any effort having been made to forecast its development and provide for the necessary bridges and other requirements for expansion, thus throttling the town and its traffic in many directions. Cottage property has been allowed to spring up along the margins of railways and canals. Factories and workshops have been dotted about wherever a bit of land could be obtained for the purpose, often dumped down to the ruin of some good residential district, and always so scattered as to involve much needless carting to and fro of the materials of industry, adding greatly to the cost of production, to the congestion of traffic, and to the expense of street-making, widening, and maintenance, thus directly crippling the efficiency of the industry, and by destroying the amenities of the homes of those engaged upon the industry, indirectly crippling this efficiency still further. Not only is the industrial life of the community hampered; but the cost of administration is increased; and the development of the town is restricted. This leads to the congestion of buildings upon the ground, to the creation of slums, the destruction alike of the health, comfort, and happiness of the people, and to the enormous increase of their death-rate. It is impossible to estimate the increase in expense of administration; but I am told that in your city on three separate occasions since the year 1833 has it been necessary to widen some part of Cross Street to provide for increased traffic; and that the value of the land which has had to be purchased for this purpose has risen from the date of the first of these widenings to the present time by 1,300 per cent.: that is, the amount of widening which at that time would have cost £1,000 must now cost £13,000. This sort of thing has been going on in nearly all our growing towns for want of the Town Extension Plan; and most of this confusion and loss to the community can be avoided by such a plan.
It is true that you cannot foresee exactly what the development of a town will be; that you may possibly provide for a wider street than will be required; that you may reserve an open space for a park on a site where as it turns out only a sparse population will settle; that, on the other hand, you may not reserve quite enough open space, enough sites for schools, police, fire, and other administrative buildings, in other parts where the population becomes denser than was foreseen. But put these errors of judgment at their very worst and compare them with what happens now. Is the town likely to suffer severely in pocket or in any other way from having bought up a little open space, beyond what is actually necessary, at slightly more than agricultural value; or for having made a road a little wider than actual requirements, at a time when the land probably cost little or nothing and was free from buildings? At any rate, compare this with the way in which the public now has to pay for every site for a school or other building it requires, for every strip of road widening, for every scrap of open space, play ground or park, just because it does not look ahead and provide for development, but waits until the ground is covered with buildings and has reached almost its maximum value before it makes these provisions. The town plan will not only provide for future extension, but, by the very fact of doing so, will control and guide development along just those lines which will fall in with this provision; and, therefore, it is really possible by the combination of such reasonable foresight as a town plan can embody, with such control and guidance as those enforcing it will exercise, to adjust the provision to the future needs with a very fair degree of accuracy,
A town plan can assist industry by reserving definite areas for industrial purposes, by arranging for the provision adjacent to these areas, of all the required facilities, such as railway carriage, water carriage, ample siding accommodation, space for needful warehouses, bonded stores, etc., and finally by securing, within easy access, adequate areas upon which those engaged in the industries can live under circumstances which will make for health, amenity, and the greatest efficiency. This is being secured by the city plan in many places, some examples of which I will show you shortly, but before doing so, let me ask you to consider what the city of Manchester might have been if its development had been carefully planned and guided by an enlightened Local Authority since the year 1795, when, as the City Surveyor, Mr, Mead, recently described it, "the open country was within a few minutes' walk from any part of the town. The inhabitants had the green fields and rural lanes of Hulme, Strangeways, and Ancoats almost at their doors," and, as you will see from a map of the period, kindly lent by Mr. Mead, Manchester consisted of a little town lying between the Cathedral and the present Town Hall; there were hardly any buildings North and West of the Cathedral, and the town had not at any point reached the river Medlock. If at that time a plan for the growth of the city had been laid down, preserving some of the beautiful valleys along the water courses as permanent open spaces, providing for main radial roads leading out in different directions and allotting definite areas for manufacturing purposes, what a different place Manchester might now have been! Even the fine, straight Deansgate which figures on the old plan has not been carried forward, and anyone wanting to travel further in that direction must dodge about round corners and up side streets before he can again reach anything like a through road. Since that date Manchester has grown almost beyond recognition. The different periods of the enlargement of its boundaries are shown by the different colours and dates on the slide. Very much has been done, of course, to improve Manchester both before and since the able survey of the city conditions made by the Citizens Association in 1904. From their plan the enormous growth which has taken place may be judged, and the haphazard development of the streets and the overcrowding of buildings which has been permitted is only too evident. By a very efficient and complete system of tramways following such direct routes as are available, much has been done to relieve the pressure of population in the centre of the town, and to make it possible for a large proportion of the inhabitants to live nearer the fresh air and green fields outside; but the want of good highways has hampered this development; and you will see that there are still large areas within the city boundaries not served by this means of locomotion, and not properly accessible by any suitable roads from the centre of the town. Our municipalities have only just been given Town Planning powers. In many cases, as in Manchester, they have done much without those powers. "We are to-night considering what further can be done by the aid of Town Planning. We will take as our first example the town of Frankfort, situated on a tributary of the Rhine, 500 miles from the sea. Owing to the foresight of the German nation in providing for the maintenance of a navigable condition, and of the towns adjacent to the river in providing adequate connection with the industrial quarters and sufficient dock and harbour space, the Rhine is becoming the most important traffic highway in the country. Frankfort has recently laid out and is constructing on the east side of the town something like seven miles of additional wharf space for the loading and unloading of barges; it has set aside an enormous area of ground provided with siding accommodation, giving connection alike with the railways and the wharves, with other conveniences both for warehousing and manufacturing purposes. It has provided immediately adjacent to this area a splendid park, containing playing fields, boating lake, pavilions, and many acres of beautifully-planted pleasure ground; and, immediately on the other side of this belt of park, a large area has been laid out, upon which are to be built the necessary homes for those who will be employed in connection with those docks and industries. You find the same thing on perhaps a smaller scale being carried out at Cologne, Düsseldorf and many other towns. The interesting little town of Crefeld situated a few miles from the Rhine has extended its boundaries to include a small piece of the Rhine bank, has laid out railways and wide roads connecting with large harbours and docks which it has made adjacent to the Rhine, has planned a detached Garden City, adjacent to the docks, and is becoming a growing and thriving industrial town instead of being left in the backwater of development.
This shows how largely a town may control its own destiny by means of its City Plan. Take the town of Cologne as another example. In 1880 it was practically a mediæval town, consisting of narrow and irregular streets hemmed in within the lines of fortifications. By an Extension Plan it secured that when the fortifications were abolished, a wide avenue or Ring Strasse surrounding the town should be created, and that the whole of the land lying between the old fortifications and the new line of entrenchments outside should be laid out in an orderly and convenient manner, giving the best possible communication from place to place and providing for an adequate number both of radial streets of good width leading out into the country in all directions and of cross roads linking these together; and providing, in addition, parks, open spaces and play grounds, not only in this belt but to a greater extent in different directions far outside this belt. Here also adequate harbours were provided and areas set aside on the East of the town, away from the prevailing winds, for the development of factories and industries of all kinds. Outside they have reserved sites for public buildings, schools, etc. and by grouping these in suitable connection with the parks, open spaces, radial roads, railway stations, and other matters provided for, they have been able practically to control the development, because, by grouping all these conveniences at certain points, they can provide that those points shall be the most attractive for residents to settle around. It is true they have made mistakes, but not the mistakes of buying land in the wrong places or omitting to arrange for development at points where it has taken place. They have actually constructed roads in some cases too far ahead of development and have planned out the areas in too great detail, making all the roads too wide. The German cities have power to take from the owner the land necessary for roads up to a maximum proportion which varies in different places from 30 per cent. to 40 per cent. of the total area of a man's land; but the owner has been able to throw the cost of this land and of the making of these roads upon the community, by charging such high prices for the remaining land as to recoup himself; thus we see that mistakes or needless extravagance in the kind of development must be borne by the community in one way or another, whoever in the first instance provides the land and money. It is therefore equally to the interest of the owner and the public to ensure the best type of development. Let us contrast the growth of Cologne with what has taken place in Chicago where a town of two million people has been developed at such a rapid rate that some still living can remember when there was only a settlement of a few hundred people there. This town has grown on a simple gridiron plan, if such can rightly be called a plan, dividing up the land into rectangular building blocks, of much the same size whether the land is wanted for factories or shops, palaces or cottages. At first no provision was made for open spaces, main wide roads were not then thought of, and the result has been perhaps the greatest aggregation of disorganised units of population that have ever been brought together. Chicago, which contains within itself a wonderful amount of public spirit backed by true American energy, is now seeking at enormous cost to rectify these mistakes and has indeed done great things already. It has secured a number of fine parks, and recovered and preserved long stretches of lake front; it has made and planted miles of magnificent boulevards and avenues, "park ways" as they are called in America. You may ride in a motor hour after hour round Chicago and the whole of the time be travelling along its park-ways and through the parks and hardly leave them. This Green Girdle is indeed, a wonderful creation. They have, too, bought here and there one or more of these building blocks, and have laid them out as playgrounds for the children. Unfortunately in the past, they have allowed the building blocks to be so covered with building that there is not enough space for air or light to reach to the rooms, much less for any garden space in which the children could play. They have now set themselves the task of providing a play ground of some sort within half a mile of every child's home in the city. Perhaps the most interesting point about these play-grounds is that they are becoming local civic centres; they are beginning to provide for Chicago that grouping and organisation of its mass of humanity which hitherto it has wanted. In connection with these play grounds a large building called "a field house" is usually built, containing Gymnasia, Refreshment Rooms, Reading Rooms, Baths and Swimming Baths, a Concert and Dance Hall and different rooms for the use of Trade Unions, Friendly Societies, and other similar bodies requiring a meeting place. The "field house" with the numerous activities centred there, is becoming the focus of the neighbourhood in which it exists; and the amorphous mass of humanity around it is beginning to take on a definite relation to the centre, is beginning to group itself, as particles of a chemical solution group themselves into a beautiful crystalline form about some central point of attraction.
This brings us to consider what is the sociological reason which impels men to come together in villages, towns, or great cities. Is it not largely the fact, well expressed recently by an American, that 10 people working together can do more than 15 people working separately, that 100 working together can do more than 1,000 working separately. and that there is no limit to what a million people working together can accomplish? But there is this vital distinction between a small group and the large town: in the small group there is an intimate personal touch and personal understanding between all the different members of the community, whereas the larger the community becomes, the more attenuated must be the amount of personal contact, until, at quite an early stage, the members must cease even to recognise one another at sight. Now in all large associations a definite scheme of organisation is introduced to meet this difficulty. Groups of individuals, large enough to become definite centres of influence, but not too large to permit a considerable degree of personal intercourse between the members, are formed. These groups, for purposes affecting the district, appoint representatives to put forward the group point of view at district meetings, and these district meetings again, if necessary, appoint a National Council to represent the whole movement, whatever it may be. In this way the whole movement is kept in touch, and its power can be focused upon any object. You have a similar type of organisation in the army, where the soldiers are grouped in companies of 100 with their immediate officers through whom they are kept in proper relation with the other companies in the regiment. The group of companies forming the regiment again have their regimental officers through whom they are kept in proper relation with the general officer commanding the division; the generals of division are in immediate contact with the commander-in-chief and his staff; and so the whole force of the army, the force, that is, not only of the material weapons of war, but of the more essential spirit of bravery, can be concentrated upon any purpose by the general, in a manner that would be quite impossible if the whole army consisted of individuals each having an infinitesimal direct connection with the general. Our towns in the past have tended too much to resemble this latter unorganised condition, and it is largely to this fact that we owe the squalor, ugliness and haphazard character of their development; for there is no doubt that the town must represent the character of the social life of the people composing it, and that it will express by its form the social organisation upon which it is based. I venture to suggest that the ideal form of town to which we should aim will consist of a central nucleus surrounded by suburbs each grouped around some subsidiary centre representing the common suburban life of the district; and the suburb in turn will consist of groups of dwellings, workshops, and what not, developing some co-operative activity either in connection with the building and owning of the houses, or in connection with the common enjoyment of open spaces, playing fields, and so forth. To emphasise this ideal development of the town, first of all each individual suburb should be provided with its suitable centre around which should be located its local municipal or administrative buildings, its places of worship, its educational, recreational, and social institutions; and not only should this centre or heart of each district give expression to its unity, leading naturally to the grouping of the district around and in relation to this centre, but between each of these suburbs there might well be reserved some belt of open space, park land, wood land, agricultural, or meadow land, which would at once define one suburb from another, and keep the whole of the inhabitants in intimate touch with ample open space.This form of city organization, Mr, Howard's Garden City idea applied to town development, would simplify all the problems of town planning, and the provision of the many services, water, telephone, light, etc., associated with modern town life. Everything would be taken direct to each centre and thence distributed to the individuals grouped round that centre. Reservation of the necessary sites for schools, playgrounds, and other public requirements would become easy; and the very fact that these were located beforehand in the places best adapted for them, and at the focus of the various roads forming part of the scheme, would lead to the natural development of the suburb around this centre. Moreover, the low-lying meadows and valleys following the rivers and watercourses, just the part of the land which is least healthy for building purposes, and the most expensive to provide with sewers, would be most suitable to preserve as open spaces, playgrounds, and pleasure walks which often need not be wide in extent; and so naturally the dwelling suburbs would be located on the high and healthy grounds. The tops of the higher hills to which water cannot often without special expense be supplied could again be reserved as open tracts of country for common enjoyment. It would be natural to group the factories and railways in conjunction with the
canals and rivers where they exist, placing them, if possible, on the east of the town so that the prevailing wind would carry away such smoke, noise, and smell as improved methods of production may still leave as necessary accompaniments of a manufacturing area. Such an industrial district would be intimately connected by direct highways, provided with suitable means of locomotion, with the different residential suburbs; and in close proximity to the factory area there would be provided accommodation for those who must needs live very near their work, a belt of open space sufficient to secure the amenities of the area, being, however, preserved between the two. In the heart of the town would be the main public buildings, surrounding a central square, or otherwise grouped to produce a dignified civic centre, and including the cathedral or whatever other building may in the future most suitably represent the spiritual aspirations of the community. But I must not discuss the civic centre to-day. We are dealing with the town extension plan, and it is perhaps time to leave the consideration of the ideal town extension and see how far Mr, Burns' Town Planning Act will enable us to approach this ideal. We shall find that is further than at first we think, and that the obstacles, based on real economic difficulties, are less than at first they seem.
The definite powers given by the Act are not many, but they are far reaching. The community is empowered, through its municipal council, to make a plan laying down the lines upon which all land surrounding it, not yet built upon and likely in the future to be built upon, shall be developed. Such plan may define the direction, position, and width of roads. The scheme which accompanies the plan may provide for the making of any of these roads that are urgently required for the public need. Any by-laws or other statutory enactments may be varied by the town planning scheme so far as may be necessary to its proper execution, with a view to securing proper sanitary conditions, amenity and convenience. The scheme may make restrictions on the number of buildings which may be erected on each acre of ground and the height and character of these, and may prescribe the space about buildings. Finally, land may be purchased for open spaces or other purposes in connection with the Town Planning scheme. If these powers are considered carefully, it will be found that there is little of what I have been sketching as the ideal development of a growing town, which cannot be secured under one or other of these headings. One of the special functions of the Act is to empower the local authority to make agreements with the owners of land on any subject bearing upon its development. The local authority is put in a favourable position for making such agreements, because it has not only power to restrict within certain limits the use to which the owner may put his land, but it has the power very greatly to facilitate development by the suitable laying out of roads, by prohibiting objectionable buildings on adjacent property, and by modifying many existing restrictive by-laws which have been made to suit other conditions of development.
I am glad to know that in Manchester already considerable progress has been made with these negotiations, that your energetic Town Planning Committee, aided by their tactful surveyor have already established a good understanding with many of the chief owners of property, and that these owners realise that it is in the common interest of all that the land should be developed on right lines. It is for you as citizens loyally to support the action of your representatives, and to give them hearty and enlightened encouragement to carry forward town-planning schemes for the area around Manchester, to a degree which will secure for you the utmost benefits which it is possible to obtain under the present Town Planning Act; and when we have exhausted these we will go to Mr. Burns and ask for more! It is, alas, true that a vast area in Manchester has been ruined by the want of any proper co-operation in development, by the selfish and short-sighted overcrowding of dwellings upon some areas of land and the waste of others. But we must not think that it is too late now to move; that is not so: Manchester is still growing rapidly. There is around it much country which would lend itself to more successful development. It is evident from what has already been accomplished that your surveyor will be able to secure many roads leading out of Manchester in different directions. The next point of vital interest is that we shall secure proper homes for the people. Until town planning has done this, until the people of a city have homes fit to inhabit, in surroundings which will provide health, comfort and beauty, it is too soon to consider ambitious schemes for remodelling the central area of the town. Let us once secure a well-housed city, and well-housed citizens will soon see that their civic centre is worthy of them. Now what is it that stands in the way of this proper housing? It is nothing but the idea that it is necessary for the benefit of some person or some class that the maximum number of houses possible shall be crowded upon every acre of land. If this is not done, we are told that building will not pay. It seems so obvious that the more houses you put upon an acre of land, the more economical use are you making of the land that few consider the question further; and, if you asked people generally what would be the effect of halving the number of houses allowed to be built on any acre of ground, they would tell you that you would ruin the builder, and divide the landowners' returns by two.
Both builders and landowners have been very much disturbed by the powers given in the Town Planning Act to limit the number and character of the buildings which may be put upon each acre of ground; I think it can be shown that these fears are not justified, but on the contrary that the greater the number of houses crowded upon the land, the less economical is the use being made of it, the higher rate must the occupier pay for every available yard of his plot, and the smaller will be the total return to the owners of land in increment value due to building operations.That we may have some definite figures let us compare two actual schemes of development, each covering 10 acres of ground. (Fig. 6.) No. 1 we will develop with approximately the maximum number of houses of a frontage of 16 feet each, which can be built to comply with the present Manchester By-laws. We will take the cost of the front roads to be
£7. 5s. 0d. per lineal yard, which I am informed is the cost of a Manchester by-law street, and we will allow £1 per lineal yard for the back roads. You will see from the diagram that on 10 acres we can put a total of 340 houses or 34 to the acre. We will take another 10 acres exactly in the same form and here we will reduce the number of houses to 152, i.e., 15.2 per acre. In this case we will not provide back roads but will spread out the houses along the frontage, building them in groups of 2, 4, or 6, and leaving adequate passage way between every two houses to give access to the back gardens. We will take the same cost per yard for the roads and we will assume in both cases that the land, before the roads are made, is worth £500 per acre. We have 10 acres in each case and our land therefore costs us in both cases £5,000; but notice, in Scheme No. 1, our roads cost us £9,747. 10s. 0d., while in Scheme No. 2 our roads only cost us £4,480. 10s. The total cost of land and roads in Scheme No. 1 is therefore £14,747. 10. 0., while in Scheme No. 2 it is only £9,480. 10s. 0d. Dividing that cost by the number of houses in each case we find that the plot in Scheme No. 1, which only measures 83½ square yards of available land for building and back yard, costs £43. 7. 6. or 10s. 4½d. per yard, while in Scheme No. 2 the plot which contains 261½ yards, more than three times the area, only costs £62. 7s. 5d. or 4s. 9¼d. per yard. That is, we find by reducing the number of houses by more than a half which has the result of increasing the size of our plot more than three times, we have only increased the weekly ground rent by 3¾d. In Scheme No. 1, 8d. per week must be paid for the small plot, in Scheme No. 2, only 11¾d. need be paid for the large plot, which may either be given entirely to individual gardens, or part of which as shown in the diagram may be devoted to the purpose of providing common playgrounds for the children, tennis courts and bowling greens for the elders, drying grounds, and allotments, or to any other purpose for which land may be used. Now I ask you, if there were two shops and one of them offered 83 marbles for 8d. and the other offered 261 marbles for ll¾d., would not the youngest player know which is the best offer? But this is not all. In scheme No. 2, we are paying for the land the same price as in scheme No. 1; but, for every year the town continues to grow, we shall want more than double the area of land if we work on scheme No. 2. Let us see how this will affect the increment. I find that in Manchester during the last 10 years on an average 17,000 people have been added to the population in each year. If we allow 5 people to the house, it follows that 3,400 houses have to be built every year; and if we take 34 houses to the acre, the number in Scheme No. 1, we find that every year to satisfy the requirements for new houses only, 100 acres of land must be developed and built upon. This I think you will agree, means practically that 100 acres of land must be transferred from agricultural value to building value. If we take £50 an acre for the sake of argument as the agricultural value of the land outside the town, and £500 as the value for building purposes within the building zone, as in the figures I have given you above, you will see that the owners of land around Manchester may, under present circumstances, expect a total increment of value from the building of houses equivalent to:—
|100 acres at £500||=||£50,000|
|Less 100 acres at the
agricultural value of £50
Now let us see what would be the result if the whole of the building ground around Manchester were developed in accordance with our No. 2 scheme instead of our No 1, and we can take for our purpose the even figure of 15 houses to the acre as representing our No. 2 scheme. We find then that to supply 34,000 houses, instead of 100 acres we shall need 227 acres and in this way, the account for increment will work out as follows: —
|227 acres at £500||＝||£113,500|
|Less 227 acres of agricultural land at £50||＝||11,350|
|Increment as scheme 1||＝||£45,000|
And yet the owners of land are afraid of Town Planning! Why the Town Planning Act may prove to be the handsomest gift this country has made to its land-owners for a very long time! I do not suppose, however, that the economic effect of limiting the number of houses to the acre will be to benefit the owners of land to this extent. I think it is probable that the reduction of the number of houses to the acre will be followed by some reduction in the price of land. But the figures show that even if there were no reduction in the price of land the tenant would be infinitely better off paying 11¾d, for a good big plot than he is at present paying 8d. for a little plot, always assuming that he does only pay 8d, for that little plot. When I said that the overcrowding of land is uneconomical and unprofitable to the owners of land as a whole, I did not say that nobody made profit out of it. What really happens is that the land speculator develops the land on the lines laid out in scheme No. 1, but instead of letting it at 8d. per week per plot, he lets it at 9d. or 10d. per week per plot, and the greater the number of houses, the greater the number of pennies and twopences per week which falls to his share of profit. But, assuming that we always get our plots after paying the landlord for the land at the nett cost price of the plot, then I say, even so, the tenant would be better off paying 11¾d, for the big plot shown in scheme No. 2 than paying 8d. for the little plot shown in scheme No. 1. But supposing that the economic conditions should work out in the opposite extreme and that the owners of land as a body only receive under the new system to be brought in by Town Planning the same total increment that they would have received under the old overcrowding system: let us see what the result would be, again basing our calculations on the increase of Manchester.
With 15 houses to the acre we shall now absorb:
|227 acres of agricultural land at £50 per acre =||£11,350||0||0|
|Add the same increment as before||45,000||0||0|
|The landlords must therefore receive||£56,350||0||0|
|£56,350 ÷ 227 acres =||£248||10||0||per acre|
This is not a picked example. I have tried it with dearer and cheaper land, with more costly roads and less costly ones, and though of course the exact relation varies, the general results come substantially to the same thing.
In other words, our over-crowding system of development is so absolutely uneconomical, it wastes so much of the land in roads, that actually it would be possible, giving the landlord the same total return in increment from every house that is built and paying exactly the same for the streets, to provide the plot of land of 261 square yards for 8½d. per week in place of a plot of 83 square yards which costs 8d. per week. If you compare the two diagrams illustrating the space occupied on every acre of ground by roads, by building, and by garden, in each case, you will see somewhat how this remarkable result comes about; how in the one case such a large proportion of the acre is occupied by roads, and you must remember that roads constitute the most expensive form of open space which it is possible to have, and the least satisfactory.
You will, I think, be able to see that not only is there no real economic difficulty in reducing the over-crowding of houses upon the land, but there is equally no economic difficulty in providing all the open space that is desirable, not only around the town, but within the town; because, even from the point of view of the owner of land, very much the same increment value arises from a given population whatever the exact arrangement of it; and if you reserve a belt of park, two or three hundred yards wide, between the town and the adjacent suburb, it simply means that you have extended the area of land which benefits by building increment as much farther out as is represented by the land which you have reserved unbuilt-upon nearer in.
One other objection to the wider distribution of the population may be raised, namely, that we shall so largely increase the size of our towns as to add very greatly to the problem of locomotion. Here again the difficulty is much less than at first sight appears, for we find on examining towns and comparing the average total population per acre with the population per acre in the congested districts, that, in many cases, it is not the average that is seriously wrong, but that there is acute local congestion. Town planning can provide for the better distribution of the population and the more economical use of land. Just as it will avoid overcrowding in some directions, it will avoid the useless waste of land which often takes place in other directions, because areas, otherwise available for dwellings, are ruined by adjacent factories, or because considerable areas are constantly being left without proper facilities of access. Not only is this the case, but owing to the fact that the area of the circle increases much more rapidly than the diameter (in proportion to the square of the diameter in fact), as a town grows a constantly diminishing addition has to be made to its diameter to enable it to provide for a given increase of its population. Let me just put this in the form of figures for you, taking the increase of population that we have been already dealing with, and assuming that the whole of the dwellings under the present arrangement are built at 34 to the acre, which mercifully is not true. The present area of the borough of Manchester is 21,643 acres, but the area actually built upon is only 10,081 acres, that is 15¾ square miles, equivalent to a circle having a diameter of 4½ miles or a radius of 2¼ miles. I find that in Manchester supposing only half the circumference of the town is available for growth for one reason or another, 10 years development at the rate of 100 acres for dwellings per year, which we saw to be the required amount under scheme No. 1 of congested development, would increase this radius to 2½ miles. Under scheme No. 2 if, for the same ten years, we needed 227 acres per year, the radius would be increased to 2¾ miles. That is, the extreme distance to be travelled in one case would only be ¼ mile further after ten years of wholesome development, and the average distance would show considerably less increase. (Figs. 8 and 9.)There is only one other aspect of this great question that I can touch upon to-night. We have been considering almost exclusively the practical utility and the economic
|FIG. 8.—Diagram showing how it would be possible to reduce the pressure of population in the centre of London by one-third its present inhabitants, and yet find accommodation at an average of only 25 people to the acre for over 12,000,000 people within the present area of greater London and within a radius of less than 15 miles from the centre.||FIG. 9.—Diagram illustrating how the population which can be accommodated in a town increases much more rapidly than the average distance of the dwellings from the centre of the town. In this diagram the whole of the population is assumed to average 25 people to the acre.|
facility of regulating our town development on better lines than in the past; but the purpose of all this is to make of our towns dwelling places more fitting for a race of beings who do not live by bread alone, but who require also mental culture and an outlet for the expression of their spiritual aspirations. When you want to erect a new municipal building or a new cathedral, having settled the requirements, practical or hygienic, that the building must serve, you call in the artist to give form to the building, that it may express by its beauty something more, something which throughout the ages every race of man has felt to be necessary to the completion of his work; and so must it be in our city building. When sociologists and surveyors have settled the requirements, and economists and engineers have settled the possibilities, then we, as our forefathers did, must call in the man of imagination, the artist, to clothe these requirements in some beautiful form. The Greeks and Romans did this as you may see from the beautiful re-creation of Ephesus and others of their cities. The mediaeval builders succeeded also, though on quite different lines, as is evident in Rothenburg, Nuremburg, or any city where mediaeval remains to any extent exist. The town planners of the Renaissance in like manner gave order and beauty to their cities, and their works, as being nearer our own time, we should study with special care, such examples for instance as may be seen in Paris, Karlsruhe, Turin, or Copenhagen.
Your Manchester Society of Architects have already made sketches for a plan of a Manchester suburb which are no doubt known to many of you, showing the breadth of treatment, the careful consideration of the grouping of the buildings and their placing on the ground which must form part of the final stages of town planning, if the town is to become once more a beautiful place to dwell in; and it is as necessary for mental and spiritual health that man should live in beautiful surroundings as it is for his bodily health that he should dwell under sanitary conditions. Town Planning, then, calls for a great co-operative effort to recreate in our cities worthy dwelling places for our social life. The individual must find his reward for sometimes sacrificing his immediate interests and predilections in the far wider opportunities which a co-ordinated development would afford, and above all, might I say here, he must learn to consume his own smoke literally and metaphorically. The engineer and the surveyor must be willing to co-operate with the artist, guiding him on sound and practical lines, but giving him the freest possible hand in dealing with the forms of expression; and the architect must cease to regard each building he erects as a unit in itself, of which he may make what he likes, and must learn to consider it as a detail in the greater street picture, and must accept as his first duty the subordination of that detail to a total effect of ordered beauty which the citizens must learn to require and appreciate, that each may in this way do his share towards the creation of a beautiful city.