Page 8 - HGS Suburb News 135 - Summer 2018
P. 8

The first Garden City

                                                            parts of our own city and the   Then there are concerns over   available are used to the benefit   Graham Fisher gave his
                                                            rest of the country.      increasing inequality and an   of the community.      lecture the sub-title: Sustainability
                                                               The town, with its industry   increasingly elderly population,   To that end money is spent   and Community. It is a miracle
                                                            and housing kept separate,  while there is less participation   on promoting the environment,  Letchworth has survived and it
                                                            would be situated within a belt   in civic community life – a   heritage, culture, leisure, learning,  is a fine advertisement for the
                                                            of open countryside – the first   common problem as our own   health and wellbeing, leading to   ideals of a civic movement,
                                                           ‘Green Belt’.  The competition   RA  knows  –  and  a  struggle  to   the support of a working farm,  which some mourn for having
                                                            for the town design led to the   maintain economic vitality. The   the town cinema and theatre, a   disappeared in an  age which
                                                            appointment of Richard Barry   decline in the High Street is   health centre, the Greenway   prizes  the  self  and  mammon
                                                            Parker and Raymond Unwin as   being met, in part, by converting   around the town, community   above community and charity.
                                                            the architects. The original Arts   to residential.   transport and much more.                TERRY BROOKS
                                                            and Crafts housing design and   The term ‘hollowing out’ was
                                                            border hedges would look   used to describe the effect of
                                                            familiar to Suburb residents.  being squeezed between London
                                                               The original town has also   and Cambridge on the town’s                                              GEORGINA MALCOLM
                                                            seen expansion with housing   economic vitality. Trying to attract
                                                            estates being built; two, in 1947   wealth creators into the town has
                                                            and 1961, being municipal estates   become a priority so as not to rely
                                                            built by the LCC with residents   on a proliferation of ubiquitous
                                                            coming from London; and two   low-wage distribution centres.
                                                            more in the 1970’s, although   We  learned  that  the
                                                            these were for private housing.   Foundation has thirty governors.
      The annual Michael Rowley     The speaker explained that
      lecture this year was given on   this utopian solution to the   Graham Fisher told us that 35%   Six are elected, ten are nominated
                                                                                      by registered clubs, societies and
                                                            of the residential property was
      May 20 in the Meeting House on   urban  living  condition  gives   for social housing while 40% of   the local county and district
      the subject of Letchworth Garden   rise to some tensions surfacing
      City by Graham Fisher, the Chief   from the policing of standards   residents work in Letchworth.  councils, and fourteen are
      Executive of the Letchworth   with problems arising with, for   Much of the Foundation’s property   appointed by the Board of
                                                            is commercial, either industrial,  Trustees, which has a member-
      Garden City Heritage Foundation.   example, PVC windows or the   office or retail with these sectors   ship  of  nine  and  is  appointed
         The talk started with a brief   siting  of  satellite  dishes;
      overview explaining some of   problems familiar to Suburb   contributing 80% of its income.  by the governors. Trustees can                                    GEORGINA MALCOLM
                                                              We were told Letchworth faces
      the history of Letchworth, its   Residents, with negative views   the same challenges present in   serve for a maximum of two
                                                                                      terms of three years.
      constitution and governance. It   sometimes  expressed  over  the rest of the country. There is   The management of the
      covers some 5,500 acres with a   disciplinary action.
      population of around 34,000 and   Letchworth was founded in   much old property which needs   estate is the responsibility of a
      as the first garden city it influenced   1903 using ideas from the 1898   looking after and a programme   leadership team under the chief
                                                            of retrofitting has started to make
                                                                                      executive, Graham Fisher, and
      future town planning greatly.  book Tomorrow: A Peaceful Path   its housing stock eco-friendly.  they ensure the resources
         Graham Fisher explained that   to Real Reform (republished as
      the present body is a charitable   Garden Cities of Tomorrow) by the
      trust with its endowment being   social reformer Ebenezer Howard.
      the estate itself. The Foundation   It was part of the great social                                      GEORGINA MALCOLM
      is Letchworth’s largest landlord   movement of the late 19th and
      and has an annual income of   early 20th centuries.
      some £8 million. So it is very   It remains as the only one of
      different from the HGS Trust   what was hoped to be a network
      which we know.             of Garden Cities, all created                                                                                                       GEORGINA MALCOLM
         Its mission statement says it   with the communal ownership
      exists “to create, maintain and   of land, and accountable to that
      promote a vibrant, quality   community, investing its profit
      environment in Letchworth   for its own benefit. It was seen
      Garden City, for all those who   as an answer to the problems of
      live, work and visit the world’s   poor housing, overcrowding and
      first Garden City.” We were told   high rents associated with much
      it acts as a custodian with   urban development at the time. It
      stewardship to ensure the   is remarkable that it has survived
      maintenance of the residential,   and thrived; it is unfortunate
      industrial,  commercial  and  that over one hundred years later
      rural environment.         the same problems still bedevil

      8                                                                                         SUBURB NEWS IS PRODUCED AND DELIVERED TO YOU BY RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION VOLUNTEERS
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