Letters to the editor

Why Welwyn still works

Welwyn Garden City

I share Gillian Darley’s scepticism over the curious relationship between the government and garden cities (Opinion April 13).

However, the better model, and one that might well be in cabinet members’ minds given the minister for housing’s constituency, is Welwyn Garden City.

Welwyn was founded by a breakaway group from Letchworth who saw new opportunities following the first world war that could be dressed up as philanthropy. Welwyn Garden City was established as, and remained, a private company up to its purchase by the Commission for the New Towns in 1948.

The Garden City company either owned or had substantial shareholdings in most of the businesses that it allowed to trade. It was a company town. George Bernard Shaw, who lived nearby at Ayot St Lawrence, was both an investor who did not expect a return on his money and a sharp critic of the company.

None of this of course diminishes the quality of planning, which is evident, but the credit for this largely belongs to Louis de Soissons, the architect. I know: I have lived here and admired it for the last 40-plus years.

Bryan Scott
Welwyn Garden City, Herts

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