Stevenage: Pioneering New Town Centre

By Emily Cole; Elain Harwood; Edward James

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This book charts the history of Stevenage new town centre, looking at its planning, development, design influences, significance and survival.

The historic market town of Stevenage was the first location to be designated for major expansion under the New Towns Act 1946, making it Britain's first post-war new town. As part of this a new town centre was planned from 1946. Informed by the ideas of figures including Gordon Stephenson and Clarence Stein, among the leading planners of their day, the detailed design of this area was undertaken in the 1950s by Stevenage Development Corporation, under Chief Architect Leonard Vincent.

The shopping precinct, with surrounding car parks and bus station, was built first, begun in earnest in 1956 and officially opened in April 1959. Its design is notable: the fully pedestrian precinct is one of the earliest examples of this kind of development in Britain and on a scale unequalled in Europe at the time of its initiation. The shopping precinct, designated as a conservation area in 1988, is notable for its uniformity, integrity and level of survival. Provision was also made in the town centre for offices, community, entertainment and public buildings, which will be discussed in this book, along with expansion works undertaken in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Key features

  • The first book looking in detail at the architecture and development of the town centre of Stevenage, Britain’s first new town
  • A book presenting the results of new research into Stevenage new town centre
  • A new assessment of Stevenage town centre as one of the earliest and most influential pedestrian developments of its type in the world
  • The first Historic England book on a post-war new town
  • A book including new Historic England photography of Stevenage town centre

Stevenage: Pioneering New Town Centre

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Additional Information

  • Series: Informed Conservation
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 176
  • ISBN: 9781800855991


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