Leonard Vincent about the size of the neighbourhoods in Stevenage
The 10,000 neighbourhood idea was taken from the Abercrombie plan, but such neighbourhoods are too big to be communities: neighbours are strangers to each other.
The size of the neighbourhoods
Building an entire new town was something nobody at the time had experience with, therefore the suggested size for the neighbourhoods didn’t raise any objection from an architectural point of view.
“The idea of the neighbourhood plan came out of the Greater London plan, 1944 it was, where Abercrombie1 suggested the 10,000 neighbourhood was a good idea as a residential base. And that was adopted and we saw no reason at the time to do something differently. I suppose primarily because of no experience, to be quite frank about it none of us had any experience in those days of building new towns. I mean huge communities lots of experience in building estates, residential estates but that is a different thing altogether.
My general view now is that the neighbourhoods are too big there areas are all right where they are located, they are too big to be called neighbourhoods and they should have been possibly split down in to residential areas or units. Probably about a third of the size.”
The social aspect is missing
In the end, however, the social aspect, the neighbours that become a community is missing. The neighbourhood are too big and people living there are strangers to one another.
“Because many years ago we had a social survey done by Peter Townsend2 and er, a colleague of his, I forget the name and they found quite rightly that in a neighbourhood the people that lived at one end of a neighbourhood had no connection whatever with the people that lived at the other end of the neighbourhood they were like strangers. But the neighbourhood next door, the other side of the road they had a lot of communication. So the physical idea of the neighbourhood as a social or community wouldn’t work in that sense too big.”
1. Sir Leslie Patrick Abercrombie (1879-1957) was an English town planner and the author of The Greater London Plan (1944), also known as the Abercrombie Plan.
2. Peter Townsend (1928-2009) was a British sociologist whose work focused on the study of poverty in the UK