Planned Community Pioneer
RTPI London’s May housing theme kicked off on 2nd May with a planning heritage focus on the site of the original Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust offices overlooking Gray’s Inn. Here a century ago, Henrietta Barnett, who has a good claim to be the Institute’s first woman member, led innovative planning and affordable housing initiatives. An RTPI London visit to Hampstead Garden Suburb in February saw Centenary Year President Cath Ranson present a mature planned settlement award and the planning heritage was later reinforced in her keynote address at New London Architecture.
The audience on 2nd May included those considering planning as a career as well as a wide range of community, professional and university interests . In 1914 Suburb masterplanner Raymond Unwin was preparing to take over as President of the Town Planning Institute whilst juggling the inaugural Summer School at University College London (UCL). His international audience, immersed in Bavarian design influences such as Rothenburg, made that summer all the more poignant. UCL’s planning school century is being commemorated with a wide range of events throughout 2014.
A tercentenary and a bicentenary too
Lord Camden, Charles Pratt, was baptised 300 years ago 21st March 1714 and Baroness Angela Burdett Coutts was born 21st April 1814. Camden Town together with Highgate’s Holly Village and Holly Lodge Estate remain some of their built form legacies. The importance of Great Russell Street over more than two centuries was also explored taking in John Nash, UCL’s Professor Stanley Adshead and archival resources such as the TUC Libraries Collection.
Painting the town red
On display were Winsor and Newton ‘Town and Country Planning Colours. The colourists had their works in Kentish Town for a century and these long set aside inks were nevertheless instantly recognised by senior and distinguished planners in the audience. Indeed font honour was given to ‘Orange 1.2’ and ‘Yellow 2.2’ throughout the power point presentation . The nearby Holborn Restaurant, Hatton Garden macassar oil magnates, the TUC Library Collections and University of London Special Collections yielded yet more remarkable planning heritage links on the doorstep. The colourful path of John Burns to Cabinet Minister, steering the first Town Planning Act via a spell as a convict in Pentonville Prison, added further drama.
Time and place
The unique site for the evening, in today’s Camden Local Studies and Archive Collection offered insights into material such as that relating to the Holborn Restaurant where the ‘Coming of Age Dinner’ for the 21st anniversary of the 1909 Act took place.
The 2nd May scheduling offered added resonance, Suburb construction began on 2nd May 1907 and since then it is a day that has often has often seen planning heritage commemorated. In 1982 the Mayors of Camden and Barnet unveiled a blue plaque to Henrietta Barnett near the Spaniards.
6th May 2014