Post War Population Problems
The proximity of Redditch to Birmingham, sixteen miles from Redditch town centre had an undoubted impact upon local leaders. Severe bomb damage during the Second World War and a population ''explosion'' saw Birmingham looking for housing land outside the city boundaries.
Redditch people feared the erosion of the green belt -
The Brett Plan
Significantly, the Brett plan emphasised
''the replanning of the whole urban population of Redditch to accommodate a population of 35,000 with space for sufficient mixed industry to employ and sufficient amenities to attractive population and with sufficient regional and local communications.”
Prophetically it went on to say
''….any further growth can only take place by the creation of what would, in effect, be a New Town beyond the Arrow Valley, which the regional planners feel to be undesirable.''
The Brett Plan, therefore, saw expansion effected by filling in between existing areas of ribbon development at Headless Cross, Crabbs Cross, Studley Road and northwards from the Town Centre. A very imaginative reconstruction of the inadequate existing shopping centre envisaged a covered shopping precinct and modern council offices. While this proposal appealed greatly to the public, the restricted population target of 35,000 appeared unrealistic in view of population growth from 1920
In December 1948 the Urban District Council decided not to proceed with the Town
Centre plan and to await ''an appropriate time'' -
Government policy diverted industrial expansion to the Development Areas and the
Board of Trade saw no reason to offer new industries to the town. The Worcestershire
Development Plan published in 1951 took an equally myopic view. It forecast that
the population of Redditch would increase from about 29, 000 between 1951-
The Town Development Act -
In the meantime, it seemed that all the proposals ignored the realities of the overspill problem of the West Midlands conurbation but the new Conservative Government introduced the Town Development Act of 1952. Not committed to the New Town philosophise the previous Labour Government, its new thinking envisaged a more rapid and cheaper expansion of existing communities by financial arrangements. The word ''overspill'' became an emotive expression and evoked wordy arguments about Big Brother attitudes of neighbouring Authorities. Financial provisions were enacted to enable the payment of the then statutory rate fund contribution of £7.35 for every council house to be made by either the Ministry or the Exporting Authority. It also made possible other Exchequer grants on capital projects such as sewerage, water supply and site preparation. With a massive postwar housing need, Birmingham City Council sought help from the neighbouring counties of Staffordshire, Warwickshire and Worcestershire. While the first two were prepared to offer sites, namely Tamworth and Castle Bromwich, Worcestershire refused to identify any sites other than expansion at Droitwich and Redditch to take industry with their associated population from Birmingham. With the City of Birmingham claiming to exhaust all its available residential land by 1957, the time factor became critical in the overspill issue.
Negotiations over the next few years were bedevilled by arguments over financial
arrangements: such as the level of statutory rate contributions from Birmingham and
the rate of house building. Irritated by delays, the Urban District Council resolved
to negotiate directly with Birmingham if progress was not made. There followed a
scheme for 1,000 overspill houses to be built over a period of five years under the
Town Development Act. The Urban District Council insisted that key-
The Redditch proposals envisaged development to the south of the existing town and
housing for 25,000 people (21,000 from Birmingham and 4,000 natural growth) between
1965 and 1974. Not surprisingly fierce controversy followed. After resolute opposition
in Wythall at a Public Inquiry, the Minister, Dr. Charles Hill (then Lord Hill) who
had succeeded Henry Brooke in October 1961, rejected Birmingham's application to
build there. In Redditch, opinion was greatly divided on the merits of the proposals.
In the end the scheme foundered upon the impossibilities improving financial support
to offset rising rate deficits over the ten-
A further factor may well have been the rethink on policy by Dr. Hill. This kind of problem showed up the limitations of town development schemes and he recommended the New Towns programme with the designation of Skelmersdale in 1961.
On 21 January 1963, Sir Keith Joseph, Minister of Housing and Local Government, met local representatives and announced that the only way out was ''that the Government should step in to take action itself under the New Towns Act". Redditch was to be designated a New Town.
The die was cast!
The above outline of the events that lead up to Redditch being designated a New Town
has be extracted from the book “The History of Redditch New Town 1964 -
This publication is the definitive account of the work of the Redditch Development Corporation and a must read for anyone with an interest in the New Town.