New Towns were developed following the New Towns Act. They had a number of functions, notably (with the First Generation at least) the removal of pressure on some of the major conurbations such as London. Each of the main urban clusters had their satellite New Towns (some being Expanded Towns as they were not wholly new...) Many of them had an existing core. Planners used the opportunity to try out new ideas such as the grid system of roads in Milton Keynes.
The New Towns Act became law on 1st of August, 1946. Stevenage was designated as Britain's first new town on the 11th of November, 1946. There were 6 neighbourhoods, the first to be planned was Bedwell.
The pedestrianised town centre was the first traffic-free shopping area in Britain, and was opened by the Queen in 1959. In 1962 the A1(M) bypass opened, to take a lot of traffic away from the town. The High Street is now a conservation area.
New Towns were developed on the principle of establishing NEIGHBOURHOODS with their own identities, so that the people moving in would have a better chance of feeling 'at home' and 'belonging', and so that they wouldn't have to travel far to reach the basic services such as schools, health care and retail outlets.
At the heart of each neighbourhood in Bracknell, for example, was a neighbourhood centre with a church, parade of shops, primary school, community centre and a pub. The neighbourhoods varied in size from 3000 to 9000. Bracknell continued to add neighbourhoods over a period of around 30 years. Pedestrianisation was a key idea, as was the construction of a ring road, and segregation of industrial areas from residential areas.
Went to Milton Keynes recently (February 2004). For the first time, I drove around the centre of the town: experiencing the H and V road numbering to create the grid, and the endless roundabouts every couple of hundred metres, which people seemed to cope with by just racing over them whether or not there were cars (i.e. mine) coming. The centre of the town had a strange atmosphere to it. Noticed the many underpasses and cycle routes. Went round the Centre MK, which is presumably where a lot of people congregate. Had some decent bookshops though, and Matt Dawson was in one signing copies of his book.
The Centre MK entrance. Click the thumbnail to enlarge. Picture by Mister P
Plenty more MILTON KEYNES images available online.
For those who want to do some further work on MILTON KEYNES, check out the CITY DISCOVERY CENTRE. At the website you can download a series of FACTSHEETS and link to various web pages which give you the history of the town, plus various links relating to items such as SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT. They will also arrange educational visits for you.
For more on MILTON KEYNES, go to the Milton Keynes WEB. At the top right at the time I visited there was a chance to see the town from the air, from where the structure of the town is laid bare. Check out the MK INTERACTIVE MAP.
Not quite a New Town, but similar in conception is POUNDBURY. This is on the western edge of Dorchester, just off the A35.
The site was designed in association with Prince Charles, the notorious critic of certain architectural faux-pas. It is situated on the edge of the town, and has the tagline:
"....every bit as much about community as about architecture...."
The individual properties are arranged in mews, squares and courtyards, creating streetscapes.
Visit the website of the construction firm C.G FRY. As an example of price, a detached 4 bedroom house costs £ 365 000 (July 2004)
A useful purchase is a publication called "Walking with Dinosaurs in Poundbury" by Eve Stephens, which covers the geology of the stones used in the building of the houses. Apparently the stones are all SEDIMENTARY. These include Bath Stone (Oolitic limestone) and Purbeck stone.
WAVERLEY: A New town for Rotherham ?
This is a new section to develop in 2007
I want to try to re-establish some links with Rotherham.
RETURN TO SETTLEMENT PAGE