Best New Towns

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DB124
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Best New Towns

Post by DB124 » Tue Oct 26, 2021 18:20

I'm sure everyone is aware of the various "new towns" built around the 1960s and 1970s, and the fabulous expressway networks within them. But which network is the best? There would be several factors to bring into consideration, such as:
-Extensiveness (is it big)
-Level of completion (is it done)
-Complexity (is it interesting)
-Innovation and new ideas (is it funky)
-Effectiveness (does it work)

Thus the question I posit: Which of the various New Towns has the finest road network, and why? :)

(Wikipedia has a fairly comprehensive list of new towns.)

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the cheesecake man
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by the cheesecake man » Tue Oct 26, 2021 20:38

IMHO Milton Keynes because it achieved what it was intended to do. It is soulless but not unplesant. It was designed for the car and does indeed have plentiful roads that seem to have less congestion than anywhere else a similar size. I suspect the grid system and roundabouts are easy to navigate if you use it regularly. It is certainly distinctive and well-known
However housing is set back from the grid roads. An extensive network of cycle/foot paths was properly designed. There's lots of green space. The design respected what was already there with existing villages incongruously incorporated and the whole thing being alligned with the Great Ouse, A5, Grand Union Canal, M1 and West Coast Mainline.

I'm not saying I like the idea of covering countryside with car-led developments but if we have to do so this is how it should be done. In contrast many new towns are depressing expanses of nastyness with crazy road networks and NMU provision that is minimal and utterly awful.

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by B1040 » Tue Oct 26, 2021 20:55

I only really know Harlow, and that was several decades ago.
Expressways were nowhere to be seen, and connection to the motorway network arrived late, probably because there was not too much heavy industry.
There was a reasonable network for cyclists although some of the routes were circuitous because they used the lanes of the former road network.
There was a reasonable differentiation between main roads spine roads and residential roads, with extensive use of the Radburn pattern for estates.
The planners did not anticipate the huge numbers of private cars that would overwhelm the parking areas in housing estates.

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RichardA626
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by RichardA626 » Tue Oct 26, 2021 22:16

My Cousin's husband grew up in Milton Keynes & says it's OK apart from one or two dodgy areas.

When visiting my Aunt had trouble with all the roundabouts & need to be guided because she had become disorientated.
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by KeithW » Wed Oct 27, 2021 09:36

Cambourne in South Cambridgeshire has worked out pretty well in my opinion. It was well planned and has the amenities needed supermarkets , library, schools, health centre etc has decent public transport links and public transport. There is a good provision of green area for walking and cycling.
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by Rob590 » Wed Oct 27, 2021 11:02

I get the impression that most mid to small new towns work pretty well from a road perspective. Certainly the two I'm most familiar with - Cramlington and Newton Aycliffe - function pretty well, and much better than many other non-planned small towns. But then that really should be the case!

Whether or not that functioning is done at the expense of other things - walkabaility, public transport accesibilty, quality of town centre urban sprawl - is another matter. I'd say it probably is in Newton Aycliffe, which is the one I know best.

Washington, the other new town I know, is a tale of two halves. Everything south of the A1231 works pretty well, and does a good job of creating pleasent residential zones and unobtrusive industrial zones, with a central shopping mall which while not pretty has maanged to do better than most town centres in recent years. But everything north of the A1231, including J65 of the A1, is a bit of a mess and signage is terrible (there's still signs calling the Western Bypass the A69, which became the A1 in 1987 I think?)

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jackal
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by jackal » Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:51

In functional terms probably MK as mentioned. Also for extensiveness and completion to use the OP's criteria.

For complexity and innovation maybe Runcorn, though it has been butchered a little now.

Honorable mention for Peterborough (which people don't necessarily think of as a new town as it was already a city).

New towns generally have better road networks than other towns, but an exception is Bracknell, which was done on the cheap.

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by M4Simon » Wed Oct 27, 2021 13:28

In terms of traffic flow, Welwyn Garden City has very few traffic issues compared with other towns in the area (I'm looking at you, Hertford). This is because it is effectively bypassed on three sides by the A414 (south side), A1(M) and B197 (west) and the B1000 corridor to the north (some of that is the A1000 dual carriageway referred to earlier and the section through Digswell was downgraded at least 20 years ago) but the route is still well used. I think it is true to say that these were not built as WGC bypases, rather the town was built off the line of the major routes. I think there was a thread on this a few months back.

Most of the time it is easy to get around, though at peak times there are queues on the approaches to town. The one I know the most about is the A1000 from A1(M) junction 6 which is very slow in the AM peak on the dual carriageway running east from the motorway, but once past the roundabout with Bessemer Road, runs more clearly into town. In the evening the Bessemer Road roundabout with Hertford Road also causes congestion, with further congestion around the motorway junction. Traffic sometimes tails back to the viaduct. The section of Bessemer Road south of the roundabout is presently running under temporary traffic signals - Thames Water have had a fleet of around 8 tanker lorries on site at any one time pumping out the sewer because of an emergency repair somewhere near Digswell. This has been going on since the beginning of October and shows no sign of being completed soon.

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by ravenbluemoon » Thu Oct 28, 2021 12:12

From what I've seen of various New Towns - so MK, Harlow, Stevenage, Basildon etc., the actual towns themselves work. A decent road network, and usually decent NMU provision with local services positioned so that it isn't that far to walk/cycle to the nearest shops. The problem is usually what happens when you exit the town - connections to the outside can be pretty rubbish. MK, for example, only really sees issues due to the below-par junctions with the M1, and decent roads that just fizzle out to the west. Same can be said for Harlow, and to an extent Stevenage.
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by Fenlander » Thu Oct 28, 2021 13:05

jackal wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:51
Honorable mention for Peterborough (which people don't necessarily think of as a new town as it was already a city).
As it's only 20 miles away and the nearest big place to where I live I often visit the new bits of P'bog around the edges where it's often easy to get to thanks to the parkways (dual carriageways). I very rarely visit the original bit in the middle though.

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by Rillington » Thu Oct 28, 2021 15:22

For road layouts it has to be Milton Keynes.

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by LoopyUpholland » Thu Oct 28, 2021 16:57

I'd like to nominate Skem for being bad. In particular our access to the Motorway network feels like they let a 6-year old draw random lines on the map!

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by M19 » Thu Oct 28, 2021 21:56

Those intended to have their own expressway network include from memory:

Cumbernauld
Livingston
Washington
Skelmersdale
Runcorn
Peterborough
Telford
Redditch
Basingstoke (remarkably similar to Cumbernauld in basic structure)

Of all of the above I would say Washington is probably the most complete in terms of what was planned. Skelmersdale perhaps the most incomplete. Then there are those that started off well but in recent years have fallen victim to being modified against their original principles. Parts of the “figure of 8” Runcorn expressway has been interrupted with roundabouts / dumbbell interchanges instead of free flow junctions. The expressway through Cumbernauld was planned to serve the town centre via on and off slips. Roundabouts have been used. Many cloverleaf junctions in Livingston have been modified into parclos.

I excluded Milton Keynes because of the road network is at grade between the M1 and A5. Despite this it works quite well, except at the junctions with the M1 where traffic funnels to and become snarled up. J14 was unfit to begin with. At J13 throwing roundabouts and traffic lights and indirect and interrupted connections to try tie in the A421 around a woefully ancient diamond interchange is a key lesson in how not to do junction “improvements”.
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by Truvelo » Thu Oct 28, 2021 22:02

Most of the late 1960's/early 1970's new towns were to have an expressway network. An example often overlooked is Irvine. Long Drive was to be an expressway and there was also a planned expressway running along the eastern side edge of the town which is completely unbuilt.
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by ravenbluemoon » Thu Oct 28, 2021 22:45

Cramlington is a new town that's often forgotten about, but has a decent expressway system that's almost a grid system like MK. It would be interesting to see how it works if the town and the missing GSJs were fully built, but on the times I've passed through (round) it seemed quiet and freeflowing.
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Chris5156
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by Chris5156 » Fri Oct 29, 2021 07:34

M19 wrote:
Thu Oct 28, 2021 21:56
Many cloverleaf junctions in Livingston have been modified into parclos.
Many? There were only ever two cloverleaf junctions in Livingston, and one was converted to a folded dumbbell/parclo layout. The other is still there.

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SBRoxMan
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Re: Best New Towns

Post by SBRoxMan » Fri Oct 29, 2021 10:01

If you ask me, Runcorn. I've lived here for nearly a year and the only time I saw any traffic was due to the M56. Runcorn's got a great orbital network of expressways, and even a "busway" for buses.

And let's not forget the two bridges

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by trickstat » Fri Oct 29, 2021 12:04

Fenlander wrote:
Thu Oct 28, 2021 13:05
jackal wrote:
Wed Oct 27, 2021 12:51
Honorable mention for Peterborough (which people don't necessarily think of as a new town as it was already a city).
As it's only 20 miles away and the nearest big place to where I live I often visit the new bits of P'bog around the edges where it's often easy to get to thanks to the parkways (dual carriageways). I very rarely visit the original bit in the middle though.
I think one difference with Peterborough is that it does seem to have a lot more through traffic than any of the other places that have ever been officially designated as New Towns. I'm not saying that the others don't have through traffic, for example, a journey between Chelmsford and Buckingham could be done by passing through Harlow, Stevenage and Milton Keynes, but it does appear that there are many journeys where it is difficult to avoid Peterborough.

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by Rambo » Fri Oct 29, 2021 12:10

SBRoxMan wrote:
Fri Oct 29, 2021 10:01
If you ask me, Runcorn. I've lived here for nearly a year and the only time I saw any traffic was due to the M56. Runcorn's got a great orbital network of expressways, and even a "busway" for buses.

And let's not forget the two bridges
I'd agree with this. The only thing missing is a decent link to the M56 heading to / from the east towards the M6 as the central expressway just fizzles out near Preston Brook. However using the Daresbury expressway and A56 to Junction 11 is mostly high quality dual.

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Re: Best New Towns

Post by KeithW » Fri Oct 29, 2021 12:29

trickstat wrote:
Fri Oct 29, 2021 12:04
I think one difference with Peterborough is that it does seem to have a lot more through traffic than any of the other places that have ever been officially designated as New Towns. I'm not saying that the others don't have through traffic, for example, a journey between Chelmsford and Buckingham could be done by passing through Harlow, Stevenage and Milton Keynes, but it does appear that there are many journeys where it is difficult to avoid Peterborough.
Peterborough was a major transport nexus long before it was a New Town, What is now Water Newton on the A1 was the Roman garrison town of Durobrivae on Ermine Street. Peterborough was a strategic target for both the Royalists and Parliamentarians during the civil war. It got a huge boost with the arrival of the railways with the local clay being used for brick making later joined by manufacturers of machinery and engines such as Peter Brotherhood and Perkins. The railways allowed these products to distributed by rail and later the A1/A15 by road.

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