Netherfield the new City was to be based on grid geometry, communications, and distribution theories that in theoretical planning research aimed at a looser, freer, interpretation of land use than in earlier new towns. The grid was sinuously distorted in plan in relation to the rolling nature of the English countryside and the many historic existing features.
We were insructed to design at the maximum conceivable scale for single construction contracts, in order to quicken implementation of the city. We took the whole of each isolated grid square as the scale of operation, with exceptions such as along a canal that permeated the grids. Our reaction was to consider each grid square as potentially a village or small township, to be compacted in density and set in the residual landscape, full local facilities to be fought for. Each was to contain 1000 houses, some 3500 people.
As planners and designers for the implementation of the southern sector of the City, we empathised with the theoretical background to the physical plan. There were a few reservations. We were building over a seven mile square of some of the finest agricultural land in a small island country.
Finally, the aim that all commerce, social, welfare building and spaces, may find locations in a loose pattern of even distribution, was confronted by the demands of the large commercial shopping operators, who demanded that there be a single grand centre, a kind of gargantuan supermall, surrounded by acres of car parking, and thus isolated; local centres to be effectively diminished to the level of a mimimarket and a gestural little group of shops, perhaps a desultory ‘community centre'.
The council housing at Netherfields, a thousand houses, formerly arranged in relation to the landscape with a shopping centre and other facilities, constituted a discreet community within an Milton Keynes grid square.
Client: Milton Keynes' Development Corporation.
Architects: Michael Gold, Christopher Cross, Jeremy Dixon, Edward Jones.