Work stops at sunset. Darkness falls over the building site. The sky is filled with stars. “There is the blueprint,” they say. – Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
Urban planning is best defined by scholars as a form of state intervention in a development process dominated by the private sector. Modern day town planning hinges on three central ideas; physical planning, the importance of design as crucial to town planning and lastly, the idea of following a ‘blueprint’ to the same degree of precision as that of engineers and architects when constructing other human-made structures. It involves a range of strategic players-the government, landowners, developers, politicians and lastly ordinary members of the public. Responding to development pressures over time, all these stakeholders in turn shape the built environment and bring their own perspectives on the built environment-on how cities grow and decline, and how they should be structured and made functional. This makes the subject of urban planning an integration of ideas drawn from political science, economics and sociology.
The realisation that urban areas need to be planned to function and provide basic amenities to the populace has its origins in the era of industrial revolution. Over time other important domestic and global events such as the rapid advances in transportation networks, the Great War, the housing boom and suburbanisation during the interwar period and a more dominant role of the government post WWII have had crucial influences in reshaping the subject. This article aims to delve into the history of town planning in the UK and how it evolved to the form it exists today.