Mr Ray Gorbing, architect on arguments about a pedestrian town centre [Text only]

"I mean the estates people were really anti pedestrianising the centre, they used to say “It will never work”. "

Stevenage Museum

Well I suppose the idea arose from a pedestrian type centre in Sweden, at Vallenby. Whilst I was working at the plans for the original pedestrianised centre we persuaded the Development Corporation board that, you know that it should be the pioneers in England for a pedestrian shopping centre.

The estates department were really anti, I mean the estates people were really anti pedestrianising the centre, they used to say “It will never work”. They said “You can’t have a shopping centre without a street”, you know without traffic going along and all the rest of it. And in fact, if I remember rightly, having produced our scheme it was then put up to the ministry and in fact it was thrown out. I then worked on another scheme which made Queensway a road. In fact, it was slightly different, obviously the distance between the shops were different, but it made, it turned it into a traffic road. And this was going to be the scheme because all the traders said “No it’s not going to work”.

But in fact, by dint of a lot of plugging away I suppose and public relations work and there were meetings held within the town for the public. And the public were very good indeed and they said, they came down on the side of a pedestrian centre. And in the end it was very touch and go they decided to have a go and we built the first bit which was Queensway, the Square, Woolworths, Finefare and that section, you know and it was a, as a trading centre, initially it was a great success and so it went on from there.

It was quite an innovation. People came from all over the place to have a look to see how this funny old shopping centre was getting on.

This page was added on 16/04/2018.

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