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Not since Ebenezer Howard mobilised the Garden City movement some 120 years ago has there been a more exciting time to be a town planner. Howard’s objective in planning for Garden Cities was to find ways for “redistributing the population in a spontaneous and healthy manner”.

Joel Kotkin in The Coming Age of Dispersion argues that “one possible consequence [of the COVID-19 pandemic] is an acceleration of the end of the megacity era”.

Similarly, Charlie Gillon suggests that the response to COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to remote work arrangements, enabling many to relocate to regional centres.

There are other reasons for moving out of cities, including a shorter work commute, more affordable housing and closer connection to nature. Gillon also notes that push factors away from cities must be complemented by the pull of regional areas.

Regional Councils seeking to “capture the benefits of young people on the move” should, in addition to Gillon’s suggestions, be planning for modern versions of the Garden City.

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