The enduring influence of Welwyn Garden City, and the Garden City Principles it sought to enshrine, is recognised internationally. Back in 2013, the TCPA took part in conversations with Welwyn residents about the best way to celebrate the centenary of Welwyn Garden City. There followed the establishment of the Welwyn Garden City Centenary Foundation and with the kind support of the Lady Margaret Paterson Osborn Trust, a programme of celebratory events, including a Garden Cities Symposium.
The TCPA was appointed in 2019 to organise the event on behalf of the Foundation. Its aim was to bring together expert speakers and commentators from across the world to not only look back at lessons learned in the planning and delivery of the town, but to explore the Garden City idea and generate lively discussion and interventions designed to address the 21st century challenges of providing places where people want and can afford to live.
In 2019, we brought together an Editorial Board of experts and locals to discuss the programme of what was to be a series of events and celebrations in Welwyn Garden City. However, with 2020, the centenary year, coinciding with the Covid 19 pandemic, unfortunately these plans had to shift dramatically. Instead, in September 2021, having been delayed by a year, we held the Symposium as a hybrid event over two days.
While we were not able to hold the Symposium in 2020, a special edition of Town & Country Planning was published in September of that year to mark and celebrate the centenary. A number of contributors to the edition, and the themes they raised, were then involved in the event in 2021.