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Title: The beautiful and the profitable in the origins of town planning
Author: McGill, Julian Conway
ISNI:       0000 0003 6690 1277
Awarding Body: Oxford University
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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This thesis examines the shift in public policy that occurred when the government became involved in regulating and providing the intangible external amenity values of housing and neighbourhoods. It shows how early, sanitary, intervention in towns was driven by utilitarian calculations. These calculation could not include the aesthetic concerns over the visual quality of the urban environment emphasized at the same time by the Romantics. As public bodies came to be increasingly involved in the provision of working class housing, they sought to create low density environments that satisfied the English, socially constructed, suburban aesthetic. By using the earlier debate to distinguish between utilitarian values, that can be measured, and aesthetic ones, that cannot, the thesis suggests a tension remained over how much emphasis to place on the external amenity of these houses and neighbourhoods. This is demonstrated by reassessing a number of well known milestones in the growing government intervention in housing. The thesis shows that during the construction of the Letchworth Garden City reformers argued over whether to prioritise the aim of developing cheap or attractive housing. It demonstrates that, during the development of the 1909 Act, John Bums was only able to extend government legislation to the external appearance of neighbourhoods, in the face of a hostile Local Government Board and Parliament, by concealing his aesthetic aims under economic ones. It shows that the passage of the 1919 Act was made possible by relying on the assumption - based on a misreading of the Tudor Waiters Report - that more attractive housing would not cost extra. The cumulative effect of these Acts was to greatly improve the quality of the working class urban environment. The thesis suggests, however, that the difficulties involved in justifying government legislation and expenditure based on the immeasurable value of visual amenity shaped the way in which legislation developed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available