HomeNew towns in France and the UK: lessons for the future?

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New towns in France and the UK: lessons for the future?

Les villes nouvelles en France et au Royaume-Uni : des leçons pour l'avenir ?

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Published on Monday, March 04, 2019


Cet appel à contribution s'adresse à des chercheurs français (sociologues, historiens, urbanistes etc.) en vue de la publication d'un ouvrage au Royaume-Uni en 2020. L'ouvrage portera sur l'héritage des villes nouvelles en France et au Royaume-Uni sous l'angle comparatif. Les thématiques couvertes sont détaillées plus bas et peuvent inclure entre autres la gouvernance des villes nouvelles, leur patrimoine, leur économie ou encore leur développement spatial.



Comparing the UK and French New Town experience shines an important light on European post war urban development and town planning.  Although different in number and urban design style, UK and French New Towns nevertheless have much in common in terms of the role of the national state in tackling urgent problems of housing and urban growth and in promoting innovative design and architecture.  Both New Town programmes demonstrate the commitment of Governments in the post war years to shape the spatial and architectural pattern of urbanization within a broadly welfare state context. 

New Towns in UK and in France were initiated at a moment when it was accepted that the state needed to act to accommodate national housing, employment and population growth.  Government was both a paternal force and a coordinator of spatial development.  In most cases this was prompted by the desire to plan urban growth around the growing capital cities of London and Paris.  Although the UK New Towns programme in particular went further than this into the restructuring of  declining regions, the main focus of both New Town systems was the accommodation and decentralisation of growth in the capital cities.  Yet the London New Towns and the Paris New Towns differ in one sense; the French New Towns around Paris are suburban developments while the ring of New Towns around London are free standing New Towns. 

The reason for gathering this collection of comparative essays at this time is that New Towns are again very much on the political and urbanisation agenda in Europe.  Indeed in the context of debates about the unity and coherence of the European Union, such comparisons are particularly relevant.  Across Europe, large scale housing development, urban centres and the desire for sustainability are the new drivers of urban planning and design.  They call for renewed discussion of New Towns/ Garden cities and urban extensions to structure growth and contain it in a sustainable way.  After years of the private development market being seen as the principal instrument of urban growth, the state in all its forms is being called upon to take action to deliver this.

Looking at the New Towns that are now reaching maturity provides an insight into the success or otherwise of the spatial planning and design concepts that underlie these settlements.  They allow us to compare these towns in terms of the quality of the built environment – especially the innovative built heritage of the New Towns.  But at the same time, they also enable us to explore the non material factors which are part of the DNA of New Towns in both the UK and France in particular the social values underlying the planning of the UK and French New Towns. What were they trying to achieve in terms of urban living and citizenship?  How far have they moved from the initial goals? As seen through this collection of essays, we think their legacy provides lessons for the present - for the renewal and regeneration of existing New Towns for planning for the next generation of New Towns and more generally for debates on urban planning.

Below are the main themes we would like to address in the book from both UK and French viewpoints;

1° « actors, key players, ideas, methods, means and choices »: we shall look at the original decisions, strategies and people behind these from a public policy perspective and assess how they have played out some 70 years later. 2° « the new towns and their residents»: from a sociological perspective, we shall explore the opinions of residents on their towns in 2019 in the light of the founders’ expectations. 3° « the new towns in their wider regional context»: from a geographical perspective, we shall take a broader look at their relations with other regional towns and cities in 2019, keeping in mind the founding principles of self-standing and self-sufficient settlements. 4° «urban environment, quality of life, urban form, heritage»: we shall look at the specificity of the urban design, the place of public art in new towns and how they have weathered the test of time by 2019.

Submission guidelines

Les abstracts en anglais (500 mots) doivent être envoyés

avant fin mars 2019

à : david.fee @sorbonne-nouvelle.fr

Les chapitres définitifs en anglais (5000 mots) seront à remettre fin 2019

Selection Committee

  • Bob Colenutt, Oxford Brookes University
  • Sabine Coady Shaebitz, University of Coventry
  • Alina Congreves, Climate KIC
  • David Fée, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle


  • Sunday, March 31, 2019


  • ville nouvelle, patrimoine, art, urbanisme, architecture


  • David Fee
    courriel : david [dot] fee [at] sorbonne-nouvelle [dot] fr

Information source

  • David Fee
    courriel : david [dot] fee [at] sorbonne-nouvelle [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« New towns in France and the UK: lessons for the future? », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Monday, March 04, 2019, https://calenda.org/572547

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