Set up by Ebenezer Howard in 1899, the London-based Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) have regularly made connections to, and exchanged knowledge with, planners outside the UK.  One long-standing method of doing this has been the international study tour where members of the TCPA would visit sites of interest abroad to study planning ‘on the ground’.

The first TCPA study tour on record was to Germany in 1911 (Hardy, 1991).  After a period of over 40 years, Peter Hall, the President of the Town and Country Planning Association announced that he would “kick-start a return to a very old TCPA tradition, which unaccountably disappeared from our agenda: the European study tour” (Hall, 2008, p. 60).  Following Hall’s announcement in 2008, the TCPA have made regular trips to Sweden, Netherlands, Germany and France (itineraries can be found here).  These visits and the lessons that have been learnt from them are captured in Hall’s (2014) book Good Cities, Better Lives.

Research by Ian R. Cook (Northumbria University), Stephen V. Ward (Oxford Brookes University) and Kevin Ward (Manchester University) has explored the post-war TCPA study tours made during a seeming ‘golden age’ of British planning.  At a time when many British towns and cities were been replanned and rebuilt, the planning profession was expanding and being professionalized, led by Frederic J. Osborn the TCPA made a series of 21 international study tours between 1947 and 1961.

Click on the images below to view them in full.

The 1947-1961 TCPA study tours

Using published reports as well as archives at the TCPA and Frederic J. Osborn’s personal archives stored at Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, we have explored the TCPA study tours between 1947 and 1961.  Beginning with a tour of Sweden and Denmark, the tours visited numerous countries in Western and Eastern Europe from Germany to Ireland, the Soviet Union to Poland, before finishing with a tour of the United States in 1961.  Our research explores the rationales of the study tours, the experiences of those participating, the ramifications of the tours, and the reasons why the TCPA’s international study tours became few and far between after 1961.


Cook, I. R., Ward, S. V. and Ward, K. (2015) Post-war planning and policy tourism: The international study tours of the Town and Country Planning Association 1947-1961. Planning Theory and Practice 16 (2): 184-205. [free version here, official version here]


The 1957-1958 UK-Soviet Union exchange

As part of this focus on the TCPA study tours, we have focused in particular on one exchange between TCPA planners and planners in the Soviet Union between 1957 and 1958.  While the Soviets visited places like Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow and London, the British planners went to Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev and Sochi, among other places.  Once again, this research explores the experiences and ramifications of these exchanges, set against a wider context of Cold War hostility but also against a longer history of connections and exchanges between Soviet and British planners.


Cook, I. R., Ward, S. V. and Ward, K. (2014) A springtime journey to the Soviet Union: Post-war planning and policy mobilities through the Iron Curtain. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 38 (3): 805-822. [free version here, official version here]

Ward, S. V., Cook, I. R. and Ward, K. (2013) Lesson learning – from Liverpool to Moscow… Town and Country Planning 82 (7): 344-347. [free pdf]

See also:

Ward, S. V. (2012) Soviet communism and the British planning movement: Rational learning or utopian imagining? Planning Perspectives 27 (4): 499-524. [official version here]


Cook, I. R. (2012) A Springtime visit to the Soviet Union: Post-war planning and policy tourism through the Iron Curtain. Association of American Geographers annual conference, New York City, March 2012. [free pdf]


For more details please contact Ian Cook (ian.cook [at], Stephen Ward (svward [at] or Kevin Ward (kevin.ward [at]



Hall, P. (2008) Return to tradition to learn for tomorrow. Town and Country Planning 77 (2): 60-62.

Hall, P. (2014) Good cities, better lives: How Europe discovered the lost art of urbanism. London: Routledge.

Hardy, D. (1991) From garden cities to new towns: Campaigning for town and country planning, 1899-1946. London: E&FN Spon.