Browsing PhD e-theses by Subjects
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Planning rebuilding in the English county town, Worcester and Bedford, 1939-1960This thesis is a comparative study of planning and rebuilding in two English county towns, Worcester and Bedford, between 1939 and 1960. It examines three phases of the process: the construction of the plans, including debates about their merits; official and popular reactions· when the plans were published; and the progress that was made when the plans were eventually passed for implementation. In both places, the story developed on similar lines. Neither town suffered very much bomb damage. But their local councils, dominated by the Conservatives, were nevertheless inspired by the wartime 'planners' moon', and so commissioned planning consultants to draw up plans to create a new and better urban fabric for the post-war future. The planners then did their best to understand local needs by collecting data, distributing large-scale questionnaires, and engaging in a variety of public consultations. Their final plans emphasised efficiency, amenity, and aesthetic values. The planners aimed to create better traffic flows; more functional civic centres with attractive shopping areas; careful zoning for industry and housing; new neighbourhoods with enough welfare and social facilities; and improved townscapes, in which old and new buildings and vistas would be tastefully harmonised. However, in both places, these proposals were generally only partially implemented by the end of the 1950s. The planners faced many difficulties, especially three significant constraints: national government indifference; local politicians' declining interest in planning, predicated upon their growing anxieties about finance; and public apathy about both planning and wider social issues. Nevertheless, this accepted, it is also clear that local conditions could make a degree of difference. Building in Bedford tended to be faster, better balanced, and truer to the planner's original conception. This in turn reflected the fact that the town's mayor in the crucial early 1950s was a noted planning enthusiast; the council largely, if fortuitously, avoided conflict; and the town planning officer of the 1950s constructively modified the original plan. The thesis draws upon a wide range of primary sources, principally files in the National Archives; papers and correspondence in the Max Lock Archive; local authority records; local newspapers; and specialist periodicals.