Garden Cities of To-morrow, by Ebenezer Howard

Chapter Five

Further Details of Expenditure on Garden City

‘Oh! if those who rule the destinies of nations would but remember this — if they would but think how hard it is for the very poor to have engendered in their hearts that love of home from which all domestic virtues spring, when they live in dense and squalid masses, where social decency is lost, or rather never found — if they would but turn aside from the wide thoroughfares and great houses, and strive to improve the wretched dwellings in bye-ways, where only Poverty may walk, — many low roofs would point more truly to the sky, than the loftiest steeple that now rears proudly up from the midst of guilt, and crime, and horrible disease, to mock them by its contrast. In hollow voices from Workhouse, Hospital, and Jail, this truth is preached from day to day, and has been proclaimed for years. It is no light matter — no outcry from the working vulgar — no mere question of the people’s health and comforts that may be whistled down on Wednesday nights. In love of home, the love of country has its rise; and who are the truer patriots or the better in time of need — those who venerate the land, owning its wood, and stream, and earth, and all that they produce, or those who love their country, boasting not a foot of ground in all its wide domain?’ — CHARLES DICKENS, The Old Curiosity Shop (1841).

To make this chapter interesting to the general reader would be difficult, perhaps impossible; but if carefully studied, it will, I think, be found to abundantly establish one of the main propositions of this book — that the rate-rent of a well-planned town, built on an agricultural estate, will amply suffice for the creation and maintenance of such municipal undertakings as are usually provided for out of rates compulsorily levied.

The net available revenue of Garden City, after payment of interest on debentures, and providing a sinking fund for the landed estate, has been already estimated at £50,000 per annum (see Chapter Three, p. 69). Having, in the fourth chapter, given special reasons why a given expenditure in Garden City would be unusually productive, I will now enter into fuller details, so that any criticism which this book may elicit, having something tangible to deal with, may be the more valuable in preparing the ground for an experiment such as is here advocated.




On Capital Account

On Maintenance and Working Expenses

See Note





25 miles roads (city) at £4,000 a mile




6 miles additional roads, country estate at £1,200




Circular railway and bridges, 51 miles at £3,000


(maintenance only)


Schools for 6,400 children, or one-fifth of the total population, at £12 per school place for capital account, and £3 maintenance, etc.




Town Hall








Museum 10,000




Parks, 250 acres at £50




Sewage disposal








Interest on £263,000 at 4½ per cent

Sinking Fund to provide for extinction of debt in thirty years

Balance available for rates levied by local bodies within the area of which the estate is situated










Besides the above expenditure, a considerable outlay would be incurred in respect of markets, water supply, lighting, tramways, and other revenue-yielding undertakings. But these items of expenditure are almost invariably attended with considerable profits, which go in aid of rates. No calculation, therefore, need be made in respect of these.

I will now deal separately with most of the items in the above estimate.

(A) Roads and Streets

The first point to be observed under this head is that the cost of making new streets to meet the growth of population is generally not borne by the ground landlord nor defrayed out of the rates. It is usually paid by the building-owner before the local authorities will consent to take the road over as a free gift. It is obvious, therefore, that the greater part of the £100,000 might be struck out. Experts will also not forget that the cost of the road sites is elsewhere provided for. In considering the question of the actual sufficiency of the estimate, they will also remember that of the boulevards one-half and of the streets and avenues one-third may be regarded as in the nature of park, and the cost of laying out and maintenance of these portions of the roads is dealt with under the head ‘Parks’. They will also note that road-making materials would probably be found near at hand, and that, the railway relieving the streets of most of the heavy traffic, the more expensive methods of paving need not be resorted to. The cost, £4,000 per mile, would, however, be doubtless inadequate if subways are constructed, as probably they ought to be. The following consideration, however, has led me not to estimate for these. Subways are, where useful, a source of economy. The cost of maintaining roads is lessened, as the continual breaking-up for laying and repairing of water, gas, and electric mains is avoided, while any waste from leaky pipes is quickly detected, and thus the subways pay. Their cost should, therefore, be debited rather to cost of water, gas, and electric supplies, and these services are almost invariably a source of revenue to the Company or Corporation which constructs them.

(B) Country Roads

These roads are only forty feet wide, and £1,200 a mile is ample. The cost of sites has in this case to be defrayed out of estimate.

(C) Circular Railway and Bridges

The cost of site is elsewhere provided for (see p. 67). The cost of maintenance does not, of course, include working expenses, locomotives, etc. To cover these a charge based on cost might be made to traders using the line. It should also be noticed that, as in the case of roads, by showing that the expense of this undertaking could be defrayed out of the rate-rent, I am proving more than I undertook to prove. I am proving that the rate-rent is sufficient to provide for landlords’ rent, for such purposes as are usually defrayed out of rent, and also for greatly extending the area of municipal activity.

It may here be well to point out that this circle railway not only will save the trader the expense of carting to and from his warehouse or factory, but will enable him to claim a rebate from the railway company. Section 4 of the Railway and Canal Tariff Act, 1894, enacts: ‘Whenever merchandise is received or delivered by a railway company at any siding or branch railway not belonging to the company, and a dispute arises between the railway company and the consignor or consignee of such merchandise, as to any allowance or rebate from the rates charged to such consignor or consignee, in respect that the railway company does not provide station accommodation or perform terminal services, the Railway and Canal Commissioners shall have jurisdiction to hear and determine what, if any, is a just and reasonable allowance or rebate.’

(D) Schools

This estimate of £12 per school place represents what was only a few years ago (1892) the average cost per child of the London School Board for building, architect, and clerk of the works, and for furniture and fittings; and no one can doubt that buildings greatly superior to those in London could be obtained for this sum. The saving in sites has been already dealt with, but it may be remarked that in London the cost per child for sites has been £6 11s. 10d.

As showing how ample this estimate is, it may be observed that the cost of schools which have been proposed to be built by a private company at Eastbourne, ‘with a view of keeping out the School Board’, is estimated at £2,500 for 400 places, or but little more than half the sum per school place provided in the estimate for Garden City.

The cost of maintenance, £3 per head, is probably sufficient, in view of the fact that the ‘expenditure per scholar in actual average attendance’ in England and Wales, as given in the Report of the Committee of Council on Education, 1896-7, c. 8545, is £2 11s. 11½d. It must be especially noticed, too, that the whole cost of education is, in these estimates, assumed to be borne by Garden City, though a considerable part would be, in the ordinary course, borne by the National Exchequer. The amount of income per scholar in actual average attendance in England and Wales, as given in the same report, is £1 1s. 2d. as against a rate in Garden City of £3. So that I am again, in the case of the schools, as in the case of roads and circle railway, proving more than I set out to prove.

(E) Town Hall and Expenses of Management

It is to be noticed that the estimates of the various undertakings are intended to cover professional direction and supervision of architects, engineers, teachers, etc. The £2,000 for maintenance and working expenses under this head is, therefore, intended to include only the salaries of town clerk and of officials other than those comprised under special heads, together with incidental expenses.

(F) Library, and (G) Museum

The latter is usually and the former not infrequently elsewhere provided for out of funds other than rates. So, here again, I am more than proving my case.

(H) Parks and Road Ornamentation

This item of cost would not be incurred until the undertaking was in a thoroughly sound financial condition, and the park space for a considerable period might be a source of revenue as agricultural land. Further, much of the park space would probably be left in a state of nature. Forty acres of this park space is road ornamentation, but the planting of trees and shrubs would not entail great expense. Again, a considerable part of the area would be reserved for cricket-fields, lawn-tennis courts, and other playgrounds, and the clubs using public grounds might perhaps be called upon to contribute to the expense of keeping these in order, as is customary elsewhere.

(I) Sewage Disposal

All that need be said on this subject has been said in Chapter One, p. 55, and Chapter Two, pp. 61-2.

(K) Interest

The money to construct the public works with which we have been dealing is supposed to be borrowed at 44 per cent. The question here arises — a question partly dealt with in Chapter Four — what is the security for those who lend money on the ‘B’ debentures?

My answer is threefold.

(1) Those who advance money to effect any improvements on land have a security the safety of which is in reality largely determined by the effectiveness with which the money so advanced is spent; and, applying this truism, I venture to say that, for effectiveness of expenditure, no money which the investing public has been for many years asked to subscribe for improvements of a like nature has an equal security, whether it be measured by miles of road, acres of park, or numbers of school children well provided for.

(2) Those who advance money to effect improvements on land have a security the safety of which is largely determined by the consideration, aye or no, are other and yet more valuable works to be simultaneously carried out by others at their own expense, which other works are to become a security in respect of the first-mentioned advance; and, applying this second truism, I say that, as the money for effecting the public improvements here described would only be asked for as and when other improvements — factories, houses, shops, etc. (costing far more money than the public works necessary at any given period) — were about to be built or were in process of building, the quality of the security would be a very high one.

(3) It is difficult to name a better security than that offered when money is to be expended in converting an agricultural estate into an urban, and this of the very best known type.

That the scheme is in reality a 3 per cent security, and would in its later stages become so, I entertain little doubt; but I do not forget that, though its points of novelty are the very elements which really make it secure, they may not make it seem so, and that those who are merely looking out for an investment may eye it with some distrust because of its novelty. We shall have in the first instance to look to those who will advance money with somewhat mixed motives — public spirit, love of enterprise, and possibly, as to some persons, with a lurking belief that they will be able to dispose of their debentures at a premium, as they probably will. Therefore, I put down 4½ per cent, but if anyone’s conscience prick him he may tender at 2 or 2½, or may even advance money without interest.

(L) Sinking Fund

This sinking fund, which provides for the extinction of the debt in thirty years, compares most favourably with that usually provided by local bodies for works of so permanent a character. The Local Government Board frequently allows loans to be created with a sinking fund extending over much longer periods. It is to be remembered also that an additional sinking fund for the landed estate has been already provided (see Chapter Four, p. 70).

(M) Balance available for Rates levied by Local Bodies within whose jurisdiction the estate is situated

It will be seen that the whole scheme of Garden City will make extremely few demands upon the resources of outside local authorities. Roads, sewers, schools, parks, libraries, etc., will be provided out of the funds of the new ‘municipality’, and in this way the whole scheme will come to the agriculturists at present on the estate very much like ‘a rate in aid’; for, as rates are only raised for the purpose of public expenditure, it follows that, there being little or no fresh call upon the rates while the number of ratepayers is greatly increased, the rate per head must fall. I do not, however, forget that there are some functions which such a voluntary organization as Garden City could not take over, such as the police and the administration of the poor-law. As to the latter, it is believed that the whole scheme will in the long run make such rates unnecessary, as Garden City will provide, at all events from the time when the estate has been fully paid for, pensions for all its needy old citizens. Meantime and from the very outset it is doing its full share of charitable work. It has allotted sites of 30 acres for various institutions, and at a later stage will doubtless be prepared to assume the whole cost of maintaining them.

With regard to police rates, it is not believed that these can be largely increased by the coming into the town of 30,000 citizens, who, for the most part, will be of the law-abiding class; for, there being but one landlord, and this the community, it will not be difficult to prevent the creation of those surroundings which make the intervention of the police so frequently necessary. (See Chapter Seven.)

I have, I think, now fully established my contention that the rate-rent which would be willingly offered by the tenants of Garden City, in respect of the advantages afforded them, would be amply sufficient: (1) to pay landlord’s rent in the form of interest on debentures; (2) to provide a sinking fund for the entire abolition of landlord’s rent; and (3) to provide for the municipal needs of the town without recourse to any Act of Parliament for the enforcement of rates — the community depending solely on the very large powers it possesses as a landlord.

(N) Revenue-bearing Expenditure

If the conclusion already arrived at — that the experiment advocated affords an outlet for an extremely effective expenditure of labour and capital — is sound in regard to objects the cost of which is usually defrayed out of rates, that conclusion must, I think, be equally sound in regard to tramways, lighting, water-supply, and the like, which, when carried on by municipalities, are usually made a source of revenue, thus relieving the rate-payer by making his rates lighter. And as I have added nothing to the proposed revenue for any prospective profits on such undertakings, I do not propose to make any estimate of expenditure.

Last updated Monday, March 17, 2014 at 16:42