After the Second World War it was clear that Britain needed some new towns, and the government introduced a program to construct new conurbations where there hadn’t previously been any.
During the next 25 years, 32 new towns were built, based on the idea that the people of Britain should have well-designed and carefully thought out cities to live in. The towns were spread out across the country from Skelmersdale to Stevenage and Petersborough to Peterlee.
Research from estate agent Savills has found that seventy years on, the top 10 of these new towns by house price growth are all in the South East. House prices in Britain’s new towns are 12% cheaper than those in the surrounding areas, and some have done well, while others have nose-dived.
Topping the list is Welwyn Garden City, where the average property costs £299,110, and in second place is Letchworth, where a house will set you back an average of £284,039. In third and fourth place are Bracknell and Hemel Hempstead respectively.
Peterborough is the only town in the South East that didn’t make the top 10, and Peterlee is right at the bottom of the list, as an average house will only cost you £84,841.
When plans for the new towns were put into place, the main guidelines were that they should be affordable, have clearly defined residential and industrial areas, demonstrate innovative architecture, provide families with plenty of green space, and offer pedestrian-friendly town centres.
Lucian Cook led the Savills research and says:
“A lot of the motivation was to relieve social pressure in the large cities. And the two places that provided the perfect model for the post-war garden city were Welwyn and Letchworth.
“Of course, you’re always going to bump up against individual issues, but designing a new town becomes a lot easier if what you are doing is not just rejuvenating an area but putting a strong infrastructure in place.”
All 32 of the town were designed to have open spaces, good transport, and easy road links, as many offer a good residential area for those looking to commute into London. Milton Keynes ranked seventh on the list for house prices, but exploded in popularity with an 81% population growth since the mid-1960s.
We are in the midst of a housing crisis, with a higher demand for houses than there is available, especially in the south of the country. Some of the new towns created after World War 2 have proven to be so successful that the creation of new towns in the South East has been promised as a potential solution.
There are currently 19,500 new homes planned north of Cambridge, 6,200 in the Rugby area, and a 15,000-house development at Ebbsfleet in Kent. Savills’ Research Director, Susan Emmett, says: “There is no single solution to the housing crisis. The creation of new garden cities is not a panacea but a piece in a much bigger jigsaw”. She wants a New Town Development Corporation put in place to speed up the process and for landowners to offer land on which new towns can be built.
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