What typically comes to mind on hearing the words ‘New Town’? Modernist housing estates? Bleak architecture? Roundabouts? The New Towns are often the butt of jokes about the failures of modern urbanism (often made by people who have never visited a New Town, let alone lived or worked in one), but their story is an intriguing one: of anarchists, artists, visionaries, and the promise of a new beginning for millions of people.

2016 marks 70 years since the New Towns Act, and the designation of the first New Town at Stevenage. It also marks 500 years since Sir Thomas More published 'Utopia' (a publication which itself proposed 54 new towns as a means to prevent 'suburban sprawl' and which was referred to by Lewis Silkin MP in the Second Reading of the New Towns Bill).

As a new programme of Garden Cities and new towns in England looks increasingly likely (and as Scotland and Wales explore the opportunities for new communities to help meet their housing needs), the anniversaries of the Act and More’s ‘utopia’ are a good opportunity to reflect on the lessons – good and bad – of what has been done before.

It also provides an opportunity to explore what utopia means in the C21st, and how we can capture the spirit and ambition of 1946 to help deliver the resilient and inclusive new communities today. 

On Tuesday 29th November we will explore these issues in the UK's first New Town: Stevenage. 

Join us for a free tour and seminar that includes the launch of TCPA's short film and Pamphlet celebrating 70 years of the New Towns Act.

In the evening join us for a free performance of 'Land of Promise' the TCPA's performance piece telling the story of the planning movment and quest for utopia through spoken work and live music. Further details and details of to book a free ticket for 'Land of Promise' available here

Outline agenda

11:00-12:30 Tour of Stevenage led by Zayd Al-Jawad, Head of Planning & Engineering, Stevenage Borough Council

12:30-13:30 Lunch provided 

13:30 - 16:00 Seminar at Stevenage Borough Council

18:30-20:00 Land of Promise at Gordon Craig Theatre

Confirmed speakers so far include:

Cllr Sharon Taylor, Leader, Stevenage Borough Council 

Dr Hugh Ellis, TCPA Interim Chief Executive

Deborah Garvie, Senior Policy Officer, Shelter 

Christopher Smith, Producer-Director, 'New Town Utopia'

Jo Ward & Grete Dalum-Tilds, Stevenage Museum 'Talking New Towns' project

Fiona Robinson, MK Futures 2050 Programme Manager

Tickets are free but spaces on the tour and at the seminar are limited and will be based on a first come, first served basis. 

Please contact Michael.Mclean@tcpa.org.uk if you have any queries. 

These events are kindly supported by the Lady Margaret Patterson Osborn Trust

Booking for this event has now closed.