The distribution of the fifteen new towns in Britain is something that this country has long needed. Twelve of them, in England and Wales, are being constructed by New Town Development Corporations appointed by the minister of Housing and Local Government, and the other three by similar corporations appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland. Eight of these towns were established primarily ta help accommodate overspill population from London, and are consequently situated in a circle around London, 20 to 30 miles from the centre in a manner suggested in Abercrombie’ s plan.

 

This group of new towns will be discussed in more detail at a later stage in this thesis. Of the three new towns in Scotland, two, East Kilbride and Cumbernauld, were started to assist in the relief of congestion in the City of Glasgow, in the same manner as those of the London region. The total over spill population of Glasgow has been estimated as 300, 000 1 and it has been suggested that a further two new towns, in the region of Bishopton-Hougston and at Kilmarnock, are necessary to fully overcome the problem.

 

The remaining five new towns were designated as a remedy for specifie local problems. At Corby, Northamptonshire and at Glenrothes, Fifeshire, housing and community facilities were needed as a result of the planned expansion of primary industries. At the time of designation Corby was a rapidly mushrooming town of 15, 000 persons dominated by the steel mills of Stewarts and Lloyds Ltd. The Development Corporation was charged with channelling the growth in an orderly manner, to a maximum of 40, 000 people, and to give consideration to the provision of employment for those not employed in the steel works. Glenrothes is situated on the northern edge of the Fife Coalfield and was established with the main purpose of providing a balanced community consisting partly of miners and their families moving into the area to provide a labour force for the expanding coal industry and part of employees of the new industries which it was hoped to introduce to give the community a mixed economic basis.

 

The new town of Peter lee, named after the famous miner’ s leader who died in 1935, was established with the idea of bringing social cohesion and diversity of employment into part of County Durham within the North East Development Area. It is proposed to be a centralizing force in an area of scattered impoverished communities, and will eventually beconJ.e a town of 30, 000 people. Cwmbran, Monmouthshire, was also estahlished in a region which suffered from gross unemployment, and social distress in the depression of the 19201s and 1930ts. However the introduction of new industries, particularly those concerned with steel, in immediately prewar years, and their expansion during the war, gave rise to an entirely opposite set of problems, the necessity to provide housing and social facilities in a vigorous industrial area. The solution was found in the designation of the new town. Newton Aycliffe, situated alongside the Al main road, six miles north of Darlington, was built to accommodate worker s in the Aycliffe Trading Estate, a war time Royal Ordnance Factory.

The accompanying map shows the proposals made by Sir Patrick Abercrombie in the Greater London Plan for new town sites in the region around London compared with the sites eventually designated under the New Towns Act 1946. Of the ten sites suggested by Abercrombie only two, Harlow and Stevenage, were chosen by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. It is perhaps worth examining the reasons given by the Minist~y 1 why the other proposals were abandoned. Two of the proposed sites, White Waltham in Berkshire, and Meopham in Kent, were rejected largely because they would have taken valuable agricultural land out of production.

 

In addition the building of White Waltham would have rendered the adjacent airfield useless. Four of the proposed sites were thought to be too close to existing settlements, and would find survival as separate communities difficult. These were Redbourn, being thought to be too close to Hemel Hempstead, St. Albans, and Harpenden; Stapleford to Hertford; Margaretting to Chelmsford, and Holmwood to Dorking. Holmwood had the further disadvantage of being a site in an area of beautiful countryside considered worth preserving. Ongar was disqualified because its development would have involved the building of a costly railway spur, a problem which also applied to Redbourn.

 

Crowhurst was thought to be unlikely to attract industry and too close to Crawley which had been suggested as an alternative to Holmwood. In the light of these reasons given for the rejection of most of the sites suggested by Abercrombie, it becomes difficult to explain the sites eventually chosen by the Ministry of Town and Country Planning. Two of the sites, Crawley and Welwyn Garden City, have adjacent airfields, Gatwick and Panshanger respectively. A large area of Bracknell is taken up by an inviolable R.A.F. Staff College. Harlow is situated in the middle of Glass l, good quality land, described as good general purpose farmland, well drained; soils of good depth, 1 workable for much of the year. 11 The relationship of the new towns to other urban centres can be seen from the map. AU lie on main railway lines and A class major roads out of London. Three, Hatfield, Welwyn Garden City and Stevenage, are on the same system, the main line railway to the north, and the Al road. All the towns are within 30 miles of Central London, and some, notably Bracknell, Hemel Hempstead and Hatfield, are within close proximity to other urban centres of considerable Six of the towns are north of the Thames, and two to the south.

 

The original idea of ringing  London with new towns appears to have been dropped. A general theory of new town location in the London region, apart from the association with major traffic routes, appears to exist no longer. The Master Plans of the New Towns of the London Region have been governed by three factors, the structure, relief and drainage of the designated area; the existing road and railway pattern of the area; and the degree and location of existing developments. Each of the towns will now be considered briefly from these aspects in an attempt to show how the general plan of each town has evolved.

 

In some instances, the degree of physical control has been high, in some the amount of existing development has played the most important role. In Harlow, for instance, this latter factor was unimportant, while in Hemel Hempstead both relief and existing development exercised the most rigid controls.