New Towns, Our Towns

New Towns, Our Town – Stories on Screen is a collection of (often sponsored information) films “about (mainly) the first four of the UK’s New Towns – Stevenage, Crawley, Hemel Hempstead and Harlow” from the ’20s to the ’80s. (Peterborough, Basildon and Milton Keynes also feature.)
Without an overarching explanatory narration, and presentations of contemporary perceptions of the towns, the criticisms of the new towns movements quickly spring to mind – lacking a central feature of distinction, designed before the take-off of car ownership, vulnerable during periods of high crime, diminished by people choosing home entertainment, home drinking and shopping in hypermarkets, oh and buying from internet companies who avoid paying tax.
But new and old towns alike have been vulnerable to that criticism. As are the redeveloped neighbourhoods and new suburbs.
Seeing “Crosswall” properties being erected, and the failure of (Harlow) Town Hall, it’s clear the New Towns movement didn’t have enough money to always provide quality.
Cliches abounded – “it’s about people”; loads of kids playing and adults bowling; modern art statues and fountains lined with small square tiles. And one I actually like – success will be when they don’t need us (the development corporations) anymore.
Loads to take in, but in the absence of editorial, the collation struggles to champion the New Town movement.
Highlight, the champion for the Milton Keynes development describing it in 1973 as “the most exciting thing in the world”.
The Guardian article.


Planning committee – July 2019

A proposal for dedicated student accommodation for 41 people was referred to the City Planner because of sustained criticism of the design including a poor main entrance, poor designs of windows, a harsh corner and more leading to poor visual amenity.
A proposal to oppose the proposals because of its location was advised it would fail cos of existing planning policy supporting such developments on main roads.
The N Post write-up in interesting, but not quite accurate. Insufficient progress could still bring the proposal back to committee, although 3 major changes were submitted in the last week to met concerns and the developer should be capable of addressing the further criticisms made.

Planning committee – June 2019

My first meeting as Chair.
Started with a tribute to Chris Gibson who chaired the committee for 16 years and the committee achieved – making decisions, whilst knowing there will be constructive criticism.
A long debate on an office block proposed for Crocus Place, next to the tram ramp and Crocus Square.
More to be written.
Note, Nottingham Express Transit have recently installed 5 trees – 3 oaks and 2 planes – in Crocus Square, but we are still to explore whether more features are needed in the square.
A very different house on a tight spot on Devonshire Crescent was approved in principle, but colour, materials choice and windows was referred back.

Planning committee – March 2019

From a Nottingham Post article on proposal for 422 student flats accommodation between Mansfield Street and York Road.
The accommodation is needed, but the rear views are a tad monolithic.
Councillor Mike Edwards, who represents the Bridge ward for Labour, added: “The tops of the buildings are just blocks with straight lines, and it’s just not good enough.
“We need some approach that makes the tops of the building more interesting.
“I don’t want to send a signal to say we don’t support this, but I do want to send a signal that says the top of these buildings needs to be better.”