Administration and social change in the post-war British new towns: a case study of Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead 1946-70
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AbstractThis thesis examines one of the major town planning projects of the post-war period, the British new towns programme. It is a comparative study of two 'mark one' new towns, designated after the passing of the New Towns Act in 1946, Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire. The thesis provides a fully integrated study examining the inter-relationship of three factors: the experiences of the new town migrants; the effects of the planned environment of the towns; and the administrative framework within which they were constructed. The thesis examines two main areas: firstly, the consequences of social development policy within the British new towns and, secondly, the nature of social changes experienced by the new town migrants. The thesis outlines the dichotomy between the idealistic intentions of the Labour Government of 1945-51 and the new town planners, and the practical difficulties of putting their plans into practice. There were three main constraints to this idealism: finance, administrative difficulties and the views of the new town migrants themselves. The new towns programme was thus typified by constant struggle between these conflicting forces. Nevertheless, the thesis concludes that the programme was successful as it gave many of the new town migrants the opportunity to have a new home for the first time. The evidence suggests that the new towns soon became examples of thriving communities with ample opportunities for social interaction. However, it should be noted that this social intercourse was often despite, rather than because of, the actions of the government, the new town Development Corporations and the town planners. The thesis draws upon a wide range of sources, both primary and secondary material, published and unpublished. In the area of social development these include the original new town master plans as well as the papers of the Ministry of Housing and the Local Government held at the Public Record Office, Kew. The papers of the Development Corporations and local authorities, which are held at the Hertfordshire County Record Office, have also been used. Reference has also been made to the contemporary planning and sociological literature. Moreover, the discussion and evaluation of the social changes experienced by the population of the new towns is reliant upon records produced by the residents themselves. These include newspapers and newsletters published by the local residents' federations, and personal memoirs.
CitationHomer, A. (1999) 'Administration and social change in the post-war British new towns: a case study of Stevenage and Hemel Hempstead 1946-70'. PhD thesis. University of Luton.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
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