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The Observer: "With the Good Life over, how can suburbia regain its place in the sun?"

"It was where the interwar generation aspired to, but suburbs today are a tale of dying high streets and creeping poverty"

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"The huge suburban expansion of British cities between the wars accommodated population growth and enabled people to buy homes at low prices. London doubled in area over those two decades and increased its population by 1.2 million people. Speculators built semi-detached houses for sale at between £400 and £500 which were close, as another advertisement put it, to 'tiny hills and hollows … pools of water, brambly wildernesses, where in spring nightingales sing and the air is sweet with the smell of violets, primroses and hawthorn'.

"It is an ideal that has survived snobbery, condescension and hostility. 'Just a prison with the cells all in a row,' wrote George Orwell of a suburban street. 'A line of semi-detached torture-chambers …' Cyril Connolly agreed, calling them 'incubators of apathy and delirium'. HG Wells called an early example 'a dull useless boiling-up of human activities, an immense clustering of futilities'.

"Now, according to Towards a Suburban Renaissance, a report released last week by independent thinktank the Smith Institute, suburbs are facing a new kind of threat. Their ideal 'has rapidly started to fade', says the report’s author, Paul Hunter. 'As inner cities have undergone a renaissance, suburbs have frequently been left behind.'

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