Town Planning Review

Town versus country in the 1940s: Planning the contested space of a city region in the aftermath of the Second World War

Town Planning Review (2005), 76, (3), 239–264.

Abstract

Through the detailed examination of a case study, namely Plymouth, this paper explores the reasons for the demise of the regional planning framework, originally advocated by writers such as Ebenezer Howard, Patrick Geddes, Charles Fawcett and Patrick Abercrombie, in the early post-war years. Plymouth's reconstruction plan, prepared by Abercrombie and Paton Watson in 1943, was devised as a framework for planning an entire city region of 140 square miles (36,269 hectares). In order to unpack the complex history of the development and ultimate rejection of the city-region model for planning in Britain, engagement is required with the human narrative that drives decision making and determines the paths pursued at key moments of change. This historical case study, drawing on the exceptionally full surviving archives, highlights not only the role of Patrick Abercrombie in shaping Plymouth's post-war future, but also the clash of all the individuals at the local and national level engaged in a power struggle regarding 'joint regional planning' for a city region, and the parallel quest to secure an extension to the city's boundaries.

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Author details

Essex, Stephen

Brayshay, Mark