Valuation deadlock over housing plans

[The Luton News: Thursday, May 22nd, 1919]

For some time past, the Luton Corporation's Housing and Town Planning Committee have been congratulating the borough (and themselves) upon the fact that they were among the most advanced authorities in regard to the present-day housing problem – that they had presented their scheme and had secured their sites with commendable promptitude.

But the situation disclosed at the Council meeting on Tuesday evening somewhat discounts this view, and the situation now wears a very different aspect. Comment is rendered the more difficult on account of the decision to deal with the matter in camera, but if report be true the Council are facing a difficult problem.

The Local Government Board valuer appears to have come down in very decisive manner upon the proposals made in regard to the acquisition of sites. Assuming that he would be likely to find himself at one end of the financial scale, the difference in figures, as given to us, is still of such dimensions as to require considerable explanation.

The local authority appears to have reached something in the nature of a deadlock, and the next move is with the Local Government Board.

As to the scheme generally, Councillor Dillingham on Tuesday threw out a suggestion which seems worthy of some consideration. He took the view that it would be wiser and less expensive to increase the local housing accommodation by the creation of an entirely new colony; and certainly there is much to be aid in favour of the policy.

The all-important consideration, obviously, is whether it would be possible to acquire a sufficienty large estate within easy access of the town. On this point we are not in possession of the information which alone would enable us to pass a competent opinion. If the answer in the affirmative, then it would appear that the Deputy Mayor's plan would be an extremely good one.

The land, being undeveloped, would be procurable at a cheaper price, and if laid out in the form of a self-contained adjunct of the borough, on garden city or up-to-date town planning lines, wopuld supply the great need at a much reduced cost.

On roads alone a very large sum would be saved, for the general plan could be on much the same lines as is the case in many of the mining areas in France – a first-class road running rounf or through the estate, with intersecting roads, suitable for light traffic, of a secondary standard.

Similarly, one would imagine, a material saving would be effected in the installation of a centralised drainage scheme; and the utilisation of private enterprise in regard to designs and erection would tend still further in the direction of economy, without any deterioration in artistic or other effect.

It may be, of course, that the original scheme has progressed too far for an alternative even to be considered. But failing this being so, Councillor Dillingham's half-hint is worthy of mature attention.