London and the Greater London ideology defined urban and regional planning.

Post the Second World War, London, was the most damaged city with substantial monumental, industrial, and residential damage. Due to its large role in society as a region for international trade, society and neighbors pushed for the era of reconstruction.

Different plans were proposed, with several planners being attracted to the capital than in any other city in England. However, it was Sir Patrick Abercrombie who changed the cityscape and influenced the thoughts of urban planning that shape the world today.

1A digital composite of a wrecked Humber car on Pall Mall street after an air raid during the London Blitz, October 15, 1940, overlaid on a Pall Mall street scene in Piccadilly on May 1, 2016. (theatlantic.com)

The most important regional-scale planning plans were regarding The London County and the Greater London plans.

2Then: September 14, 1940, a crater and damaged railings outside Buckingham Palace, London, after the explosion of a German bomb dropped in an air raid the previous day. Now: Tourists gather outside Buckingham Palace on April 26, 2016 (theatlantic.com)

In 1943, Abercrombie presented the Country of London Plan in collaboration with H.J. Forshaw, an architect in the London County Council.

The following year, The Greater London Regional plan was introduced and described as a ‘big adventure’. Abercrombie’s idea for the gradual evolution of boundaries and zoning principles was to remove over 1 million civilians from the city to beyond the Green Belt. The idea to decentralize the city, control population growth, intermixing social classes, and removal of the young middle-class families from the city centre. London’s industrial sector was to blend with housing instead of remaining in isolation of lower areas in the city; leaving room for new towns, a larger green belt area, and maintaining London as a low-density city.  Abercrombie stated that “Adequate open space for both recreation and rest is a vital factor in maintaining and improving the health of the people”, on his mission to create a coordinated Park System. The system proposed that for every 1 person there must be 4 acres of open space with parkways on existing and new roads. Civilians must be able to open their door and be able to breathe in fresh air while looking at scenic, relaxing views.

Almost all of Abercrombie’s plans were implemented, such as the Lee Valley Regional Park Authority, still being funded today. His award-winning designs and planning have shaped the London we know today.

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