The Institute of Enhanced Town Planning | Brussels Blog

The Institute of Enhanced Town Planning

posted by on 10th Apr 2019

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The road to Hell

I have reluctantly got used to the terms “existential crisis” and “dystopia”. Also, I remember the embarrassment from Kenneth Tynan saying the F-word on TV in 1965 but describing the state we’re in needs more than polysyllabic words. So …

We’re fucked
We’ve fucked the planet
We live crap lives.

If there’s hope, it’s that our crap lives could be less crap: happier and less polluting.

To realise that we need people with vision in a new field. I’m looking for a better label but for now I will call it “enhanced town planning” (ETP). The problem is there are no ETP practitioners, no ETP Academics and no degrees or certificates in ETP. Most alarmingly, there is no ETP vision.

The aim of this new field is to design lifestyles that are still pleasant but don’t screw up the world. It needs input from engineers, economists, climate scientists, agronomists, house builders, architects, transport planners, town planners & all of us. Most of all it needs people with ideas and vision who can understand the evidence of our current dire situation.

In the UK, we are a small nation of fast-diminishing importance but there is still the off chance that visions started here can spread through the world. This has happened before. From William Wilberforce to the Beatles Mersey Sound of the sixties.

In the field of town planning the UK has a rich history, like the model villages of Victorian philanthropists: New Lanark, New Earswick, Saltaire, Port Sunlight and Bourneville. These were followed by the garden cities of Letchworth and Welwyn, conceived by Ebenezer Howard.

Ebenezer Howard’s plan for a garden city

Given the short time we have to address the problem, planning and building completely new towns can only be part of the answer. New build should help existing settlements cope in transformation to low carbon living. Most importantly, it should develop a way of planning to show the world.

Some topics “the Institute” should study are:

Britain could pioneer an Institute of Enhanced Town Planning: Where should it be? Who should be the first director? And most important of all who will fund it? I look forward to answers. If I get anything sensible they will be added to this piece, also any sensible additional questions. Here are my answers. Other suggestions welcome.

Where should it be?

A town that is cheap to live in. Ideally with an old fashioned art school.
Hull comes to mind.

Who should fund it?

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation would a good starter-for-ten, if they were to take climate change seriously.


The Dutch seem to be working on some of these ideas…

The world’s first “high-tech eco village” will reinvent suburbs
ReGen village, in the Netherlands, will collect and store its own water and energy, grow its own food, and process much of its own waste. Also: no cars.


Fred Magyar ( May 5, 2019 at 2:11 pm )

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