Brian Foster discusses the problem of the lack of public spaces in Stevenage
Brian discusses the issues surrounding the lack of public spaces and how this affected the enthusiasm of the Stevenage population.
Brian: Some years later in fact when I was um I’d left Alleyne’s School and I was waiting to go to University I did a volunteer project one summer for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and they were looking at public space and the amount of activity generated and what I found was that there was probably a demand, a need for more civic activities ‘cos every space we found was full. And it gave us the sense that maybe more things would happen if there was simply more public space. It was quite interesting.
Interviewer: So when you say every public space was full…?
Brian: church halls and community centres and scout buildings and they were all fully booked all the time with different groups, different activities but there was a clear sense that there wasn’t enough public space for people to meet and the town it was a bit, it was rather paternalistic because it was planned from the top down which was the period and they had the Corporation, and they built it and designed it – and it was a bit paternalistic – the way the town was designed didn’t keep up with where people were at. I mean it was designed for bicycles and everybody started getting cars – so there was a democracy-deficit somewhere. And the feedback wasn’t always there. So they built a neighbourhood and they would build the Church of England, pub, and the shopping centre. But the sense we had – and this was 1963 – was that if the brake had been taken off a little bit there would have been more happening