Letchworth Garden City inspires Chengdu suburb in China

Composite of Letchworth and Chengdu Letchworth Garden City and its leafy Edwardian avenues (left) have excited Chengdu developers who want to develop a modern but clean suburb

Developers of a new suburb for two million people in a Chinese metropolis have turned to a Hertfordshire garden city for inspiration.

Letchworth Garden City Heritage Foundation is working with planners at Chengdu in Central China.

Leafy Edwardian-style avenues will be the foundation of a suburb dominated by 30-storey skyscrapers and a treetop-high monorail system.

Experts from Letchworth and China will collaborate to develop a master plan.

David Ames, head of Letchworth's strategic planning and heritage, visited China earlier this year to advise officials, academics and developers producing a blueprint.

A delegation from Chengdu plan a return trip to discuss further detail and to work on a low-carbon environment for the new garden suburb residents.

Dr Professor Boa Feng Di, a specialist in development of low-carbon communities at Sichuan University, helped bring Hertfordshire to the notice of the Chinese.

Green belt limit

How does Letchworth compare with Chengdu?

  • Letchworth Garden City was created by Ebenezer Howard, a visionary social reformer
  • His dream was a town where everyone could enjoy fresh air and parks alongside town amenities
  • Letchworth Garden City proved his model worked and the idea spread around the world
  • Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, in Southwest China, has 14,047,625 residents
  • A breeding centre for giant pandas was founded in the north suburb of Chengdu and is the only one in the world located in a metropolitan area
  • The city is on a fertile plain also known as the "Country of Heaven"
  • The industrial base is very broad, including light and heavy manufacturing, aluminium smelting and chemicals

He has taken the master plan for Letchworth Garden City and shown how it can be adapted to cities of up to 14 million people.

Letchworth Garden City was designed as a self-contained, sustainable community with proportionate areas for homes and recreation.

Industrial areas were set aside and all parts of the city were zoned to avoid pollution.

The city is surrounded by a green belt of agricultural land for growing food.

A spokesperson for Letchworth said: "Although direct comparisons are difficult, there are opportunities for clear synergies, in that a carefully applied approach can reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

"For example, an integrated approach to transport, green infrastructure, housing, leisure and employment from the outset can substantially reduce the need for cars.

"The concept of the town feeding itself is of relevance and the utilisation of green belt to prevent unprotected sprawl can lead to a more positive legacy and better places."

Chengdu planners are applying the established garden city principles in the main development area of Chengdu Dongcun.

Features to be included are shared open spaces, mixed use development and links with public transport.

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