Working paper

Planning the good city in Australia: Elizabeth as a new town

URU Working Paper No. 30
Urban planning Strategic planning Cities and towns Community development Elizabeth

This paper describes the planning of Elizabeth by the South Australian Housing Trust. As a new town, Elizabeth drew on the planning assumptions and objectives of the postwar British town planning movement and represented a specific plagiarization of the empowering British tradition which dominated Australian planning. In particular, the planners of Elizabeth assumed that working-class residents could be 'improved' by a proper arrangement of urban space and would not bring their own spatial creativity to bear upon the community, and that the major employers enticed into locating in the new town would also conform to the expectations of a harmonious as well as profitable landscape. Both assumptions were vital in the new town vision, yet neither had any force outside the planning ideologies themselves. The building of the city reflected the difficulty of implementing borrowed templates for the 'good city', especially in terms of 'self-containment' and 'social mix'. Increasingly wary of the unauthorised activities of residents and doubtful about the means of creating a cohesive and mixed community, the Trust 's officials instead began to rely heavily on employers to guarantee the social as well as economic outcomes of the project . The paper concludes by suggesting that while economic prosperity and the benefits of Trust planning kept employers loyal to this accumulation site while providing residents with the means to build a working community into the early 1970s, the onset of crisis fatally undermined this version of the 'good city'.

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