New Town design is a distinctive style which has and will provide endless controversy amongst those interested in such matter s. The towns all exhibit basic similarities in the disposition of land uses and architectural form. The reasons for this are twofold; firstly they were all conceived, and building commenced in the same short period of time, and secondly; they were all built to the same planning standards as outlined in the three New Towns Committee Reports and embodied in the subsequent legislation.

 

The new towns of the London ring are well on their way to being completed, so a fair appraisal of their internal structure can now be made. AU have overcome the preliminary administrative problen1s, and in sorne cases local government boundaries have been adjusted. All are now the centres of Urban Districts, except Hatfield and Bracknell, which are still in Rural Districts. Hemel Hempstead is a Municipal Borough, a status it has enjoyed since long before it was designated a new town. The new towns are also just beginning to pay their way as economie investments. The twelve new towns of England and Wales taken together now show a surplus on revenue accounts, and repayment of Treasury advances, which under the terms of the Act must be made within sixty years, has been started.

 

The time when the new towns will no longer be flnewu is rapidly approaching. Machinery has been created, in the form of the New Town Commission to take care of the new town assets when the development corporations work is finished, and the towns èan rightfully serve as normal urban centres. In the case of Crawley, this time is very close, but in Basildon for instance there is much work still to be done.

 

This is because the basic design of Welwyn was made forty years ago, and thus is a prototype rather than a contemporary example: and Hatfield situated as it is, adjacent to Welwyn, in an area of already extensive industrialization is hardly representative of the group. The maps show firstly, the clear way in which land uses are kept severely separate. Ocly in town centres does mixed usage occur, for instance, offices and flats occuring above stores. Industry has been sited adjacent to railways and trunk roads; residential areas have been grouped into neighbourhood units, each with its primary school and shopp:iing centre; and the town centre of each has been built as close to the geometrie centre of the designated area as other features permit. Major roads have for the most part been used as dividing lines between the various types of development, and permit rapid and easy circulation to any part of the town.

 

Many are bordered by 11 green wedges 11 ; few, with the notable exception of the M~rlowes, the High Street of Hemel Hempstead, serve as elements of unification. The features designed for bringing people together are small scale; the pedestrian shopping streets, the neighbourhood sub-centres, and the pedestrian closes around which houses are grouped. The interna! structure of the new towns, and the principles on which they developed will now be discussed in relation to each of the major land use categories.

 

The industrial estates of the new towns are located usually in the north or north east side of the town to avoid atmospheric pollution of the residential areas, or alongside railways if an industrial area was there before designation or if an existing industry was tied to railway transportation. In Harlow and Crawley an existing railway fortunately ran through the north east part of the designated area, so that both these provisions were met. The laying out of at !east part of the industrial estate was usually the first task of the corporation, since the provision of employment is basic to the survival of a town. In plan they often resemble the Trading Estates laid out in the 19 30’s by the Board of Trade. They are usually connected to the centre of the town, and to the main trunk roads passing by or through the town by broad open roads, and are subdivided into large plots with rear access loading facilities and plenty of room for expansion.

 

The building frontages are usually long, low and pleasant, often bordered by fine lawns and flower beds, with an impressive front entrance around which the offices are grouped. Development corporations either build unit factories in which one or more or all the units can be leased to a manufacturer, or they permit sorne industries to build their own factories on leased land, or the corporation builds factories to the less€es specifications. If the corporation builds a factory it is usually so designed that if a tenant moved out, it could be readily converted to form a number of self contained factories, or adapted to accommodate another type of industrial plant.

 

The problems of attracting industries 2 to the new towns at the beginning was handicapped firstly by the fact that the only firms which could be admitted were tho se from London, an under standable qualification; and secondly, a firm wishing to leave London had to show the Board of Trade, before being issued a clearance certificate, why it could not move oa a development area, which is al ways the Board’ s first choice. In addition the new towns could not subsidise industrialists as they would be in a development area. Set against this however, they can off er the inducements of ready-built convenient factories, with good communications and utilities laid on, and houses with immediate occupation to the employees of incoming firms. One of the problems of employment which the new towns are going to have to combat in the future is that of finding jobs for nonskilled school leaver s. Most of the industries employ a high proportion of skilled and semi-skilled workers, who moved to the town at the same time as the industry in which they are employed.

 

Since they were willing to move they were usually in a youngish age group, often in the 25 to 45 years category, that is in the child producing age, and also unlikely to retire for many years. These facts, coupled with the nature of the industries means that the young people leaving school, which proportionately will be considerably larger than the national average, will have a hard time finding employment within the town. It has been estimated 1 that at Stevenage for instance the number of schoolleavers, which was only 400 in 1948 will rise in the next five year s to 9 50 per year, and thereafter to about 1, 600. A survey in Crawley made in the autumn of 1958 showed that the number of young people employed in the town was 4. 1 percent, considerably lower than the national average of 6. 9 percent. After the initial difficulties were overcome, the new towns of the London a rea found little difficulty in attracting industries. All of them now are attracting sufficient to maintain a full housebuilding and development programme.