Sociable Cities: The 21st-Century Reinvention of the Garden City, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Sociable Cities

The 21st-Century Reinvention of the Garden City, 2nd Edition

By Peter Hall, Colin Ward


270 pages

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Peter Hall and Colin Ward wrote Sociable Cities to celebrate the centenary of publication of Ebenezer Howard’s To-morrow: A Peaceful Path to Real Reform in 1998 – an event they then marked by co-editing (with Dennis Hardy) the magnificent annotated facsimile edition of Howard’s original, long lost and very scarce, in 2003. In this revised edition of Sociable Cities, sadly now without Colin Ward, Peter Hall writes: ‘the sixteen years separating the two editions of this book seem almost like geological time. Revisiting the 1998 edition is like going back deep into ancient history’. The glad confident morning following Tony Blair’s election has been followed by political disillusionment, the fiscal crash, widespread austerity and a marked anti-planning stance on the part of the Coalition government.

But – closely following the argument of Good Cities, Better Lives: How Europe discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism (Routledge 2013), to which this book is designed as a companion – Hall argues that the central message is now even stronger: we need more planning, not less. And this planning needs to be driven by broad, high-level strategic visions – national, regional – of the kind of country we want to see.

Above all, Hall shows in the concluding chapters, Britain’s escalating housing crisis can be resolved only by a massive programme of planned decentralization from London, at least equal in scale to the great Abercrombie plan seventy years ago. He sets out a picture of great new city clusters at the periphery of South East England, sustainably self-sufficient in their daily patterns of living and working, but linked to the capital by new high-speed rail services.

This is a book that every planner, and every serious student of policy-making, will want to read. Published at a time when the political parties are preparing their policy manifestos, it is designed to make a major contribution to a major national debate.


Peter Hall has produced a timely update of his book with the late Colin Ward. With Government minds turning once again to the potential of Garden Cities and Garden Suburbs, it draws on his unparalleled experience as a strategic Ministerial adviser, academic, polemicist and planning historian to set out how that potential might be maximised. And he lays down a challenge to communities and individuals understandably worried by the scale of the housing development that is coming: learn from the past, join in a coherent programme, or you risk being swamped by a tide of the very sprawl that you most fear. - Martin Crookston, Strategic Planning Consultant

Table of Contents

Preface Part 1: The First Century 1. Howard's Beginning 2. Garden City: Ideal And Reality 3. From Garden Cities To New Towns 4. Garden Cities Cross The Channel .Part 2: Land, Life And Liberty 5. Plotlands: The Unauthorized Version 6. Land Settlement: The Failed Alternative 7. Do-It-Yourself New Towns 8. Not Counting Nimbies Part 3: The Coming Century 9. Then And Now 10. The Quest For Sustainability 11. Sustainable Social Cities Of Tomorrow 12. Making It Happen

About the Authors

Sir Peter Hall is Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at University College London, and President of both the Town and Country Planning Association and Regional Studies Association. He has produced over fifty books since the start of his academic career in 1957. He is internationally renowned for his studies on all aspects of cities and regions.

Colin Ward (1924–2010), often referred to as Britain’s most famous anarchist, wrote nearly thirty books on subjects that ranged from allotments, architecture, town planning and self-build housing, to children’s play, education, water distribution and anarchist theory.

About the Series

Planning, History and Environment Series

This series offers a unique window on the creation of the modern environment. Designed for an international readership, the emphasis is on:

  • urban and regional planning
  • recent as well as longer-term history
  • what the past can tell us about the present
  • local as well as global and comparative topics

Within this framework the books address three themes:

  • regional, continental and comparative studies
  • planning histories of key cities
  • changing planning ideologies and policies


Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
ARCHITECTURE / Urban & Land Use Planning