Catalogue ReferenceNT/B
TitleBracknell New Town
DescriptionBracknell was designated a New Town on 17th June 1949 by the Bracknell New Town (Designation) Order 1949, under the New Towns Act 1946, which enabled government to designate areas as New Towns. The idea of New Towns originated from Sir Ebenezer Howard's Garden City Movement which sought to create Garden Cities. People could move away from overcrowded inner cities and unhealthy living conditions to Garden Cities with populations of around 30,000. There would be better housing for its residents, artisanal communities and agricultural belts which would separate the Garden Cities from other towns. The Garden City Movement led to the creation of both Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City. During World War One and prior to the Second World War, there were calls to build New Towns outside London. These increased after the Second World War due to years of overcrowding, lack of house building during the war, the intensive bombing of London, unsuitable and outdated housing stock, and the post-war baby boom.

In 1944, the Abercrombie Plan for London proposed that eight New Towns should be constructed within 50 miles of London. These New Towns would enable people to move away from the city to carefully developed towns which could meet all their needs. In 1945 the New Towns Commission was established which investigated and decided that New Towns should be built, ideally, on greenfield sites. In the New Towns housing and jobs should be provided, neighbourhoods would be designed containing homes, schools, shops, and public houses in walking distance with easy transport links to commercial and industrial areas. The Commission also noted the newly developed towns should have populations around 60,000 and they should be single housing.

The New Towns Act 1946 was the culmination of these investigations and part of Clement Atlee's Labour government's pledge to create a new society from the ruins of the old. The Act laid out that New Towns were to be developed by Development Corporations which were to have no more than seven board members including a Chairman and Deputy Chairman. The Act established the purposes of New Town Development Corporations: to secure the planning and development of the New Towns; to acquire, hold, manage, and dispose of land and other property; to construct buildings and other operations; to provide electricity, water, gas, sewerage, and other services as well as any business and anything necessary to form the New Towns. The New Towns Act was amended several times in 1952, 1953, 1955, 1958, 1964, 1966, 1969, 1976, and 1981.

The future of the New Town Development Corporations was discussed for many years. The Reith Commission 1945 proposed the Development Corporations should continue in perpetuity with their aims altered once their master plans were achieved. In 1946 Lewis Silkin Minister for Town and Country Planning disagreed noting during the presentation of the New Towns Bill 1946 that the assets of the New Towns should be handed over to local authorities once the Development Corporations aims were achieved. Government agreed and the New Towns Act 1959 formed the Commission for the New Towns to receive the assets of the Development Corporations once the New Towns were wound up. By the 1970s interest in the New Towns had decreased and government intended to use the money funding the New Town Development Corporations for other purposes such as renewal of urban centres in London.

The New Towns (Amendment) Act 1976 asserted that the assets of the Development Corporations should be transferred to district councils. In the following years many of the Development Corporations were to be wound down, as they had achieved their aims. This winding down was premature for some Development Corporations, as some New Towns were unfinished when the Development Corporations were dissolved.

Bracknell was designated a New Town in June 1949. The Abercrombie Plan 1944, had suggested that White Waltham, six miles east of Maidenhead, should be the site for a New Town in Berkshire. White Waltham, however, was considered and rejected by central government due to its airfield, good agricultural land, and lack of a train station. Bracknell instead was selected due to its railway station, connections to the M4 motorway and because it was outside of London's green belt, had a low population and had land unsuitable for agricultural purposes. The designation order for Bracknell lays out that Bracknell was chosen to help de-centralise London.

The Bracknell Development Corporation was formed on 20th October 1949 by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government under the New Towns Act 1946. The Bracknell Development Corporation planned, managed, oversaw, and developed Bracknell New Town from 1949 until the Corporation's dissolution in 1982. The Corporation constructed and designed residential, industrial, and commercial properties, attracted industries to Bracknell, oversaw the construction and planning of new roads, walkways, roundabouts, bridges, sewers, reservoirs, schools, communal spaces, medical centres, and green spaces as well as amenities such as electricity and gas. The Corporation motto was ‘Home, Industry, Leisure’, and its aims for Bracknell were to create a town which could meet all its residents needs with all the benefits of the country.

The Corporation designed Bracknell New Town with some notable architectural firms: Louis de Soissons ARA and Partners; Ove Arup Associates; and others. The Corporation's own Architect's Department designed many commercial, industrial, and residential properties in the New Town.

In 1949, prior to its designation, Bracknell's population was around 5,000. The Corporation's initial aim was for Bracknell New Town to achieve a population of 60,000, although this was scaled back, with aims instead for 25,000 residents by 1964. The original designation area for Bracknell New Town in 1949 was 1,870 acres. In 1961 and 1962, the designated area was extended 3,000 acres with the target population increased to 60,000. The designated area was extended to meet local needs, with a new industrial area planned, additional five residential neighbourhoods and the Town Centre redeveloped. By 1980 Bracknell covered a total area of 3,296 acres and its population had swelled to more than 50,000.

The Bracknell Development Corporation was governed by a board of eight members appointed by the Minister of Town and Country Planning and their successors in the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, and the Department of Environment. The board of the Bracknell Development Corporation increased over time, the implementation of the New Towns (Amendment) Act 1976 allowed for the increasing of the number of board members of Development Corporations to eleven people. From 1949 to 1982, thirty-two people served as board members on the Bracknell Development Corporation.

The Bracknell Development Corporation had four Chairmen from 1949-1982.

Sir Lancelot Herman Keay was the first Chairman of the Bracknell Development Corporation from 1949-1959. Keay also served as concurrently as the Chairman for the Basildon Development Corporation from 1949-1954.

Sir Ambrose Dundas Flux Dundas, was the second Chairman from 1959-1967. Dundas had previously served as the Corporation's General Manager from 1950-1952.

Sir Dennis Pilcher was Chairman from 1968-1971. Pilcher had previously been Deputy Chairman of the Corporation.

Sir Jack Hughes was the last to hold the role serving as Chairman 1971-1982, until the Corporation was dissolved.

Appointments to the Bracknell Development Corporation board was an official process requiring the authorisation of the Minister for Housing and Local Government, and their successors, and these appointments were sometimes debated in parliament. Appointments to the board were for two years and many board members were reappointed after their two years was complete. The first Bracknell Development Corporation board meeting was held on 17th November 1949. During the first meeting the Board was concerned about filling the roles of Chief Officers.

The Bracknell Development Corporation had seven Chief Officers at a time, although many others worked for the Corporation. The Chief Officers were: General Manager; Chief Architect; Chief Estates Officer; Chief Engineer; Chief Finance Officer; Chief Law Officer; and Chief Quantity Surveyor.

The Corporation operated from Farley Hall, Binfield, an 18th century country house which was previously a hotel that the Corporation purchased in 1950 and extended to meet the needs of its staff members, including fitting out the hall as offices for the Corporation's Chairman and Chief Officers. Farley Hall is situated just east of the neighbourhood of Priestwood, on the edge of the Bracknell New Town designated area, providing the Corporation with a headquarters close to the area it was developing. The Corporation had further offices in Bracknell Town Centre and depots and stores in Bracknell.

Under the Bracknell Development Corporation 1949-1982, the neighbourhoods of Priestwood, Wick Hill, Bullbrook, Easthampstead, Harmans Water, Great Hollands, Wildridings, Hanworth, Birch Hill and Crown Wood, as well as the Town Centre and several industrial areas were developed, with more than 15,000 residential properties constructed. From 1949 to 1982 the Corporation built eight infant schools, eight junior schools, five primary schools, three secondary schools, a college for further education and a school for additional educational needs, two health centres, a major sports centre as well as developing an arts centre.

All New Town Development Corporations were funded by HM Treasury loans, budgets from other government agencies and per capita budgets for local government. The Bracknell Development Corporation had received more than £69 million in loans from the Treasury at its dissolution in 1982. New Town Development Corporations had to repay the loans they received with interest. All Government loans New Town Development Corporations received were repaid.

In 1978 the The Bracknell Development Corporation's assets began to be transferred to Bracknell District Council adhering to the New Towns (Amendment) Act 1976. The Bracknell Development Corporation was wound up in 1982 with its industrial and commercial assets transferred to the Commission for the New Towns and some to Bracknell District Council. The Bracknell Development Corporation was wound up before its second Master Plan could be fully achieved. The Master Plan proposed the complete development of the town would be accomplished in 1983.

The records in this collection were created by, or in the possession of the Bracknell Development Corporation when they were transferred to Royal Berkshire Archives or the Commission for the New Towns and their successors. Not all records produced by the Corporation were transferred to Royal Berkshire Archives, some are held by Bracknell Forest Libraries. The records of the Chief Law Officer, Chief Quantity Surveyor, Chief Estates Officer, and Chief Finance Officer, largely, do not survive, although some are interspersed within this collection.

This collection is being catalogued and may be unavailable for order.
RepositoryBerkshire Record Office (code: GB 005)
Extent832 files, 118 bdls, 22 vols, 88 docs, 4.56 GB

G1 Establishment, managing, staffing and dissolution
G2 Agendas and papers from the Bracknell Development Corporation Board meetings, 1949-1982
G3 Minutes of Bracknell Development Corporation Board meetings, 1949-1982
G4 Board drawings
G5 Expenditure Committee of the Environment and Home Office sub-committee
G6 Annual accounts
G7 Annual reports
G8 Master Plans
G9 Licensed Premises
G10 Historic Buildings and Archaeology
G11 Public Inquiries
G12 Third Expansion of Bracknell
G13 The construction of properties in Bracknell New Town
G14 Housing Progress Forms
G15 Housing Agreements
G16 Sale of Houses: policy and general procedure
G17 Sale of Houses: Mortgages
G18 Acquisition and Property Registers
G19 Speeches and talks by Sir Ambrose Flux Dundas
G20 Properties acquired under compulsory purchase orders by the Bracknell Development Corporation
G21 Ordinance Survey plans of Bracknell New Town and neighbouring areas
G22 Records transferred by the Bracknell Development Corporation to other organisations
G23 Legislation, central government advisory publications and papers for New Towns
G24 New Town Circulars
G25 Opening ceremonies and official visits to Bracknell New Town
G26 Social Development Office
G27 Seals Registers and related papers
G28 Emergency planning


A1 Contracts for architectural development in Bracknell and its surrounding areas
A2 Proposals and indices for development of Bracknell and its surrounding areas
A3 Photographs of Bracknell
A4 Film of Bracknell New Town
A5 Correspondence, papers and drawings of architectural developments in Bracknell New Town


E1 Contracts, drawings and papers about engineering works in Bracknell
E2 Correspondence, drawings and papers about engineering developments
E3 Photographs and aerials of the construction of roads, sewers, and other engineering works
E4 Film of the construction of the West Link Road railway bridge
E5 Survey drawings of Bracknell and its neighbouring areas
Related MaterialRecords in other collections

D/EX1107/1 Photographic prints of Bracknell new town (two landscape views and one of the High Street), n.d.

D/EX/2322/4 Scrap book, November 1975-June 1977.

D/EX/2677 Roman Hill Resident’s Association Records, 1970s-1992.

C/AR/P6/3 Bracknell: Coopers Hill, 1952-1959.

C/AR/P9/1 Bracknell: Clinic and Ambulance Station, 1959-1968.

C/CL/E1/6/5 Correspondence regarding the acquisition and occupation of houses for teachers in Berkshire,

C/CL/E3/1 Youth and Community Service, 1944-1988.

C/CL/E3/1/2 Bracknell: Documents relating to BCC purchase of Cooper’s Hill House, Bracknell (for Bracknell Youth
Centre, 1958.

C/CL/E4/13/2 Plans showing the location of proposed senior, senior Catholic and primary schools to serve the Great
Hollands Neighbourhood of Bracknell, 1971-1973.

D/MS22/1C/2 Correspondence and papers relating to the sale of the church and adjoining premises to Bracknell
Development Corporation, 1963-1969.

D/MS23/1F/3 Correspondence and plans relating to transfer of strip of land adjoining the church site to Bracknell
Development Corporation for the provision of a footpath from Shepherds Lane to Agar Crescent,

D/P49/3/3 Correspondence relating to the sale of the rectory to Bracknell Development Corporation, 1953.

D/P165/8A/22 Correspondence and papers relating to property, mainly to the compulsory purchase by Bracknell
Development Corporation of Church House (the former church hall), Rochdale Road, Bracknell,

D/P165/8A/23 Correspondence and papers relating to property, mainly to church property subject to compulsory
purchase by Bracknell Development Corporation, 1971-1973.

D/P165B/28/32 Various local guides and booklets, 1974-1978.

D/P165B/28/38 Two issues of Town and Country newspaper (produced by Bracknell District Council and Bracknell
Development Corporation), December 1977 and June 1978.

RD/E/SB10/305 Building control plans: application no. East R/N/7/52, 1952.

D/EX1997 Papers of Violet Hunt relating to Lily Hill House and Park, Warfield, and Martins Heron, Winkfield,

D/EX1934/1 Photographs of Bracknell New Town new shopping centre (nos. BE/108-112) and industrial estate (nos.
[BE/115 and 128]), n.d. [c.1969]

DEX749/1/11 Antiquarian notebook relating to Binfield, n.d. [c.1949-1954].

D/P165/8A/25 Contract for Bracknell Development Corporation's Chief Architect to supply plans and specifications for the new church hall, with site plan and suspended ceiling layout, 1975.
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