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The Positive Power of Urban Planning

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How celebrated planner Professor Sir Peter Hall’s ideas helped shape London’s transport system.

The Positive Power of Urban Planning

Peter Hall (centre) on one of his last study visits with the EU Sintropher project in 2012.

Credit: Robin Hickman

A five-carriage train numbered 378 204 has a special place in the hearts of many of those at The Bartlett. This London Overground train was named Professor Sir Peter Hall, in honour of his contribution to the orbital London railway, which opened in 2007.

Professor Hall’s ideas helped shape and progress not just the London Overground, but Crossrail 1 and 2, High Speed rail and many other developments in London.

Beyond the capital, the celebrated planner conceived many of the most influential planning ideas in the UK. These included enterprise zones, and the revival of interest in Garden Cities – which stemmed from his role as Chair of the Town & Country Planning Association.

Hall also advised governments around the world and was known internationally for his studies and writings on the economic, demographic, cultural and management issues that face cities around the globe.

“Peter was driven by a belief in the positive power of urban planning to create the conditions in which all members of society could flourish,” says Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin, Lecturer in Transport Planning & Housing.

“In pursuit of the goal to create ‘good cities, better lives’, pragmatism always prevailed over dogma, and he worked closely with politicians and governments of all persuasions.”

Peter was driven by a belief in the positive power of urban planning to create the conditions in which all members of society could flourish.

Dr Iqbal Hamiduddin

An encyclopedic mind

Professor Hall was also a prolific writer with an engaging journalistic style, says Dr Robin Hickman, Director, MSc Transport & City Planning at The Bartlett School of Planning, “writing many of the most well-known books on urban planning. Ask any student of urban planning and they will point you towards their favourites.”

In total, Hall authored or edited around 50 books, many of which are considered seminal texts. These include such noted works as Great Planning Disasters, Cities of Tomorrow, London 2000 and, most recently, Good Cities Better Lives.

When it came to the world of planning, he had an encyclopedic mind. According to Bartlett School of Planning Professor Matthew Carmona, Hall also had a forensic knowledge of trains that stretched to the history behind old lines and stations, and exactly where to get on and off the tube across London for the most efficient journey.

Sir Peter Hall (1932–2014), the Professor of Planning and Regeneration at The Bartlett School of Planning, died in 2014, the year The Bartlett School of Planning marked its own centenary. His last research project was Sintropher – a five-year collaboration with the aim of enhancing local and regional transport provision to, from and within five peripheral regions in North-West Europe.

The School of Planning is one of the leading research-led planning schools in Europe, offering a creative and stimulating environment to study the form, planning, design and management of cities, and to shape their future. It is part of The Bartlett, UCL's Faculty of the Built Environment. Find out more: https://ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/planning

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