||A planned free-standing, urban centre, added to an existing settlement system. In this sense any planned settlement of substantial size is a \'new town\'; including, for example, the bastides of medieval Europe, company towns built by enlightened industrialists for their workers, settlements of colonial powers in overseas empires, and \'artificial\' capital cities in independent states. In Britain the phrase refers to the post-Second World War overspill solution to excessive conurbation growth, itself a natural successor of Howard\'s garden city concept (indeed, Welwyn Garden City became one of the first London New Towns). These also showed other defining characteristics of minimal commuting and maximum social balance. Some of these New Towns were also intended to serve as instruments of regional policy.
So the world\'s first industrial nation became the first also to respond to the economic and social pressures of dysfunctional metropolitan growth in this way. Abercrombie\'s influential 1944 Greater London Plan advocated ten New Town reception areas for London overspill beyond a green belt, and the New Towns Act two years later established the necessary administrative and financial structures, including their management by non-elected development corporations. In total, 14 New Towns were designated in the UK in a frenzy of activity from 1947 to 1950, of which 8 served London overspill, and a further 17 have been designated since, none around London.
While the general principles of economic self-containment, social balance, landscaping, recreation and high-quality transport provision have been followed, Britain\'s New Towns have also undergone detailed changes in their half-century of achievement. Their planned eventual size has risen tenfold, the amount of private development incorporated has increased, and the neighbourhood unit principles in the early schemes were abandoned in some of the later ones. Finally, the intended transfer of New Town assets to local government with the \'wind up\' of their development corporations became complicated by the privatization programme of public assets, leading to a wider mix of housing tenure than originally envisaged.
The concept has been widely admired and copied: Osborn and Whittick (1977) list parallel developments in 67 countries. Those in France (notably, to accommodate Paris overspill), Sweden and the USA are particularly significant in advanced economies, although their experience differs from Britain\'s (Cervero, 1995).
In the USA, for example, the oldest of its over 140 New Towns pre-dates the British experiment (i.e. Radburn, designed in 1928). Private development is more to the fore (for example, Reston, Virginia); and free-standing locations are less commonplace (such as the \'town within a town\' at Cedar-Riverside, to revitalize downtown Minneapolis/St. Paul). Equally, neither self-containment nor social balance is sacrosanct: Soul City, North Carolina, is designed to house poor blacks while many others are avowedly middle-class, and use zoning ordinances to remain so.
In the latest phase of the New Town story the spotlight has switched to Japan and the Third World, as correctives to primate city dominance, as through new capitals in Brazil and Nigeria or Egypt\'s programme of desert cities as counterweights to the economic pull of the Nile Delta (Stewart, 1996).Â (AGH)
References Cervero, R. 1995: Planned communities, self-containment and commuting â€” a cross-national perspective. Urban Studies 32: 1135-61.Â Osborn, F.J. and Whittick, A. 1977: New Towns, 3rd edn. London: Leonard Hill; Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Â Stewart, D.J. 1996: Cities in the desert â€” the Egyptian New Town program. Annals of the Association of American Geographers 86: 459-80.