Book Chapter

Planning the world’s new towns: A tale of two countries, 1975-2013


Reflecting their extensive domestic programmes, the UK and France became major exporters of New Town planning expertise during the later twentieth century. Yet each country delivered its expertise in markedly different ways. Drawing on the UK’s own New Towns programme begun in 1946, a public sector international New Town planning agency, the British Urban Development Services Unit was created in 1975. However it quickly proved unsuccessful and was abandoned in 1978. Instead national expertise was exported by UK private planning consultants, with strong government encouragement. By contrast France, whose own Villes Nouvelles programme started in 1960, created a single public sector international planning agency Groupement d’intéret économique Villes Nouvelles de France in 1984 that operated successfully (latterly under a different name) until 2013. The chapter briefly considers the international efforts of the two countries, largely but not exclusively in oil-exporting countries and their respective own former colonial Empires. It also interprets their different approaches in light of their different political histories. Thus the UK was much earlier affected by neo-liberal, pro-market political ideologies that instinctively favoured private rather than public sector approaches. This was especially so given the already established position of its private planning consultancies both in international work and in preparing the original master plans of many UK New Towns. In France, by contrast, neo-liberal sentiments were only slowly accepted and private planning consultancies were much less important. The chapter ends by briefly considering the wider impacts of the two countries’ different approaches.

Attached files


Orillard, Clément
Ward, Steven V.

Oxford Brookes departments

School of the Built Environment


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-07-07

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Planning the world’s new towns: A tale of two countries, 1975-2013
This RADAR resource is Part of Lessons from British and French new towns: Paradise lost? [ISBN: 9781839094316] / edited by David Fée, Bob Colenutt, and Sabine Coady Schäbitz (Emerald, 2020).


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