Establishing the Planning System

  • Yvonne Rydin
Part of the Government Beyond the Centre book series (GBC)


While histories of planning may trace its origins right back to the urban design practices of the Greeks and link its development to the town designs of the medieval and Renaissance periods, it is generally accepted that the impetus to modern planning activity came from the massive industrialisation of the 19th century (see Table 1.1). For this industrialisation brought with it large scale population growth and, more important, population movement. Between 1801 and 1901 the population of England and Wales grew from 8.9 million to 32.5 million. The towns and cities grew at an unprecedented rate as people moved from rural to urban areas. Between 1821 and 1851 alone some 4 million people migrated to the towns and by 1851 some 50 per cent of the population was urban in residence. The resultant urban squalor is well documented, most famously in Engels’ Conditions of the English Working Class (1845 German edn, 1892 English edn). Conditions for the average family were cramped, damp and insanitary. Along with an inadequate diet, this resulted in high mortality rates and a weak and unhealthy working class population. Furthermore the conditions produced a general public health risk through the inadequate water and sewerage systems for the dense urban population. The resulting epidemics, particularly of cholera in the 1840s, spread the consequences of inadequate housing beyond the occupants themselves.


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© Yvonne Rydin 1993

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  • Yvonne Rydin

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