Centenary talks held in Welwyn Garden City
Published by Nneka Opara for TCPA in Communities and also in Housing
Welwyn Garden citizens will come together today (22nd January) to discuss ideas for celebrating the Centenary of their garden city in 2020. The meeting is called by the Town and Country Planning Association and will be attended by nearly 40 people from societies and groups representing the arts, sports, business and heritage in the garden city and the Mayor of Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council, Councillor Howard Morgan.
The world’s second garden city (Letchworth in north Hertfordshire was the first) was established in 1920 after Ebenezer Howard bought several farms at auction and established a company to start physically building his vision for a town for healthy living in green fields to the south east of Welwyn village.
“Sir Ebenezer Howard was an amazing man” said Fiona Mannion, Head of External affairs for the TCPA “he not only developed Letchworth and Welwyn Garden cities but also established the Town and Country Planning Association in 1899 (called at the time the Garden Cities Association) so we have “shared DNA” with both Letchworth and Welwyn. To reach 100 years is a major milestone and something worth celebrating.”
Dr Dennis Lewis, Chair of the Welwyn Hatfield Heritage Forum said “2014 might seem too early to start thinking about an anniversary in 2020, but my experience of the 50th, 75th and the 90th birthdays of the garden city is that some things have a long lead time. Royal diaries, for example, are filled up years in advance.”
With headlines in the papers about Government plans for new garden cities, it is timely to reflect on how one of the originals - designed to combine the best of town and country in beautiful and inclusive communities - has stood the test of time. Ahead of the centenary discussions, the meeting will hear from Miles Gibson, Prize Director of the Wolfson Economic Prize, a prize of £250,000 for the best detailed proposal for delivering a new garden city. Miles will be using the opportunity to listen to Welwyn Garden citizens about their views on what works well about where they live.
“Welwyn Garden citizens can take pride in their heritage” said Fiona Mannion “it is a tribute to Sir Ebenezer Howard that it fulfils his vision of being a great place to live and work. The TCPA has called this meeting to get the ball rolling but the Centenary is something for garden citizens to organise in detail for themselves. Experience from elsewhere is that grass root community action is the best formula for success and the TCPA will be pleased to support the local community leading up to 2020.”
For over two year the TCPA has been leading a re-invigorated campaign for a new generation of garden cities - more information is available here.