250 New Towns - The club for people with big plans to build We lay out a 1:50,000 scale OS map of Britain and discuss where the equivalent of 250 new towns might be located
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1. Council of Mortgage Lenders, 'First-time buyers - are they really getting older?', 4 August 2009, CML News and Views, Issue Number 15, Graph of First Time Buyers acting without family assistance, posted on

2. Michael Ball, Robert Blanchette, Anupam Nanda, and Peter Wyatt, Housing markets and independence in old age: expanding the opportunities, Reading, Real Estate and Planning, Henley Business School, May 2011, p 28, posted on

3. James Woudhuysen and Ian Abley, Why is construction so backward?, Chichester, Wiley-Academy, 2004

4. National Housing Federation campaign microsite, Don't mention the housing crisis, posted here

5. Ian Abley, 'Planning Gain is a loss', 1 January 2010, posted here

6. Ian Abley, 'Predicting the future of British house building', 10 November 2009, posted here

7. Ian Abley, 'Britain can't so easily stop the Dependency Culture', 31 October 2010, posted here

click here for the aims of the 250 New Towns Clubclick here for the 250 Locations index

Plotlands as a measure of housing affordability 75 years on

Mark IddonFear of the Draft National Planning Policy Framework

Jonathan Schwinge's 2012 Mile High London, dimensionally defined by Ian Abley and CAD modelled by Andrew Sheldon

Hands off Dale Farm

Robert BruegmannSolly Angel

Where to build?250 New Towns Club supports the National Housing Federation's campaign - Don't mention the housing crisisclick here for Big Potatoes - raising the level of discussion and debate about innovation, in the UK and beyond

zero carbon nonsense from the Zero Carbon HubThe 20 New Labour Eco-Towns that will never be built

Map of English residential land prices in 2007

Grant Shappsclick here to find out what people might do to resolve the predicament of the peculiar British Housing TrilemmaEric Pickles

Ian AbleyJames StevensTony Pierce

Simon Punter PhotographyAndrew BrooksMark Harrop

250 New Towns - The Saturday club for people with big plans to build

We are a Saturday club devoted to mapping 250 locations in Britain that might each accommodate a 21st century new town. The club is for everyone who wants many more houses to be built now. Our aims are:

1) To work for population growth, more migration, and industrial advances in productivity, as materialists opposed to green idealism

2) To demand the return of development rights to owners of Freehold land, exchanging the 1947 Act for a system of development or land tax

3) To publicly plan as citizens for house building at a rate never achieved before and with the intention of deflating housing markets

click250 New Town Locations

clickEndorsements supporting the 250 New Town Club

clickMedia coverage for the 250 New Towns Club

click here for New Market Towns by Barton Willmore

Next Meeting in Manchester...

Saturday 16 June 2012

clickProgramme 12 16.06.2012

The next meeting is at the BDP Manchester Studio, 11 Ducie Street, Piccadilly Canal Basin, Manchester, M1 2JB. We will look for Hard-Edged Ideas for Northern New Towns. As the 250 New Towns Club works towards publishing our first 50 locations, Mark Iddon of Urbanization Architects hosts the second Manchester branch meeting.

We are pleased that the speakers are:

Gavin Elliott - BDP Manchester Studio Chairman and Creative Director will present a case study on the production of the RIBA Award winning Abito micro-flats project in Salford Quays.

Mark Turner - MA Student of Architecture at Manchester Metropolitan University, is concerned with Social Housing. Is the Public Sector today making progress or tied in Red Tape?

Tony Pierce - With over 20 years experience as director or head of service in planning, property, engineering, surveying and housing services in various councils in London and the South-East, Tony argues that returning cities to villages is not the way forward.

Ian Abley - Drawing on the 1:50,000 scale Ordnance Survey Map

Mark Harrop - Developing the M62 corridor for greater mobility - a preview to the 250NTC event in Leeds on 6 October 2012

Get planning now...

The 250 New Towns Club is a creative meeting point where enthusiasts connect with experts to discuss where and how we could live in Britain.

There are professional designers working alongside amateur artists and people willing to draw, model, or map a place to live. All are welcome, and please don't keep the club a secret. Bring friends. The club is for:

  • Young people wondering when or where they might buy a house
  • Families wanting more living space on a tight budget
  • Older households wanting to live somewhere better in retirement
  • Architects and engineers with ideas lacking planning approval
  • Geographers with a sense that landscape changes
  • Farmers with land they want to sell for development
  • Estate Agents who see that there are too few homes being built
  • Mortgage Lenders looking to the future
  • Planners with imagination and expertise to offer the public
  • House Builders wanting more business
  • Contractors with the vision to organise novel projects
  • Manufacturers of every kind of Construction Product
Make more use of London's radial and orbital road and rail networks

Of course rental housing is always needed. Of course we will be fully involved with the construction industry. Above all, the 250 New Towns Club is for would-be First Time Buyers. The average age of a First Time Buyer in England, acting without financial help from their family, is now 36 and getting older. Anyway, 80 per cent of First Time Buyers now rely on family money. (1) Young working people wanting to buy a home of their own can expect to have to wait until early middle age. Many now face living in overcrowded and entirely avoidable domestic conditions.

The situation is not good for the elderly population either. Housing equity accrued from owner occupation over a lifetime is vital as a means to purchase Retirement Housing. Many old people have been living in public or private rental housing, and have no equity. Of those used to living in owner occupied housing on which they have paid off a mortgage, almost 30 per cent of purchasers of Retirement Housing had to use sources of funds in addition to the sales value of their previous home. Michael Ball says that '... this suggests that children and other members of a family may be financially helping out, as well as providing the more commonly identified incidental and informal care and companionship'. (2) The inflating private housing market is far from a retirement plan for all.

Meanwhile house prices remain inflated, and the construction industry could be innovating ways to meet the scale of housing demand. (3)

click here for the National Housing Federation's campaign website - Don't mention the housing crisis

The National Housing Federation says it’s time for every Member of Parliament in the country to mention the housing crisis and urge the Government to safeguard the provision of social rented and affordable homes. (4) However it is Government that controls the planning system which inflates the price of even poor quality building land allocated for development. This has frustrated house building while Government has extracted a small supply of social rented and affordable homes from a local negotiation over "planning gain". (5) The NHF want to mention the housing crisis, and we want to clearly recognise Government itself as the obstacle to building. The British economy struggles to directly fund rental housing, but the contemporary failure to build is more than a matter of tenure. (6) Government is unwilling to return the freedom to build to Britain's land owners. MPs prefer to sustain the 1947 national denial of development rights that underpins the planning system today.

The 250 New Towns Club doesn't argue against a rental sector, but we want to move beyond the forced funding of rental housing from too little housing built for owner occupation. The Saturday club is for the many parents wondering where their children will live, or when they will leave the parental home. Not all parents can help finance their children to buy a home. Not all children want to be highly indebted, or paying rent. (7)

Browse this website for details about the new town projects of interest to you. Drop into the club at any time. Suggest new town locations to add to the developing index. To find out more download the programme for the next club meeting, and the reports from club members:

Get your hands on our 1:50,000 scale OS map of Britain


clickAims of the 250 New Town Club - Discussion Draft 04 19.09.2012 - Planning is not a Socialist system

clickAims of the 250 New Town Club - Discussion Draft 03 12.03.2012 - Fearing a developer's charter in 2012

clickAims of the 250 New Town Club - Discussion Draft 02 12.02.2011

clickAims of the 250 New Town Club - Discussion Draft 01 06.11.2010

click here for Living Projects


clickHow little space we live in 12.07.2012

clickHome is a Double Decker Bus refit for Daniel Bond and Stacey Drinkwater 01.07.2012

clickThe awesome mendacity of Eric Pickles 31.03.2011

clickZero Eco-Towns 28.03.2011

clickBritain can't so easily stop the Dependency Culture 31.10.2010

clickPeople and Places: A 2001 Census atlas of the UK 27.09.2004

We welcome invitations from architecture students


We are not tied to one venue, and will move around the country to visit locations. Please check the programme for the venue and times.

Please invite us to your venue.

The venues do not take registrations. Please contact us direct.


To be emailed with times for particular presentations and discussions please register by emailing Ian Abley on

We hope you will volunteer to make the 250 New Towns Club into an effective network. There is much to do.

Ian Abley, Tony Pierce, and James Stevens are the initial club organisers. As the club grows members are developing a democratic constitution, which will be based on a branch structure.


A charge of £5 is usually made for materials and unavoidable expenses no matter when you arrive. We can only accept cash on the day.


If you are interested in joining, supporting, or sponsoring the 250 New Towns Club at our forthcoming events, please contact:

Ian Abley, 8 College Close, Hackney, London, E9 6ER

Mobile: 07947 621 790



Previous Meetings...

click03 6 November 2010 - Planning a Nuclear Fusion future

click02 9 October 2010 - Affording living space on expensive land

click01 18 September 2010 - Welcome to the 250 New Towns Club

Photograph courtesy of Simon Punter

Future Meetings...

13 Ian Abley is organising in London for November 2012

click here for the 250 Locations indexclick here for 001 Evenlodeclick here for 002 Croydonclick here for 021 Crays Hillclick here for 035 Fordclick here for 039 Wappingclick here for 053 A4 Tunnel

Simon Punter Photography

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