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In praise of the New Towns: what Harlow can teach us about today’s housing crisis

Philip Hammond's budget announcement of five new developments will be rightfully critiqued. But the new towns of the 1940s are worth revisiting—however unglamorous they may seem

By Nick Hilton  

Harlow Town Station in 1999. Photo: Ben Brooksbank/Flickr

There’s a statue in Harlow by Keith Godwin, called ‘The Philosopher’. Commissioned in 1960 to celebrate Harlow’s new technical college, Godwin’s philosopher is built from fiberglass but has a crumbling, classical grandeur in the way he looks over his shoulder, like Orpheus, tempted by the sight of vocational education. Except the technical college is gone now, and the philosopher stares at more non-descript mixed material housing in a manner that Nikolaus Pevsner called forlorn, but which looks rather more like confusion.

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