Peter Hall (urbanist)

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Peter Hall
Peter Hall delivering address at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Born Peter Geoffrey Hall
(1932-03-19)19 March 1932
Hampstead, London, England
Died 30 July 2014(2014-07-30) (aged 82)
London, England
Nationality British
Alma mater St Catharine's College, Cambridge
Occupation urban geographer, town planner
Known for World Cities ranking, urban planning history, city regions

Sir Peter Geoffrey Hall, FBA (19 March 1932 – 30 July 2014) was an English town planner, urbanist and geographer. He was the Bartlett Professor of Planning and Regeneration at The Bartlett, University College London[1] and President of both the Town and Country Planning Association and the Regional Studies Association.[2]

He was internationally renowned for his studies and writings on the economic, demographic, cultural and management issues that face cities around the globe. Hall was for many years a planning and regeneration adviser to successive UK governments. He was Special Adviser on Strategic Planning to the British government (1991–94) and a member of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's Urban Task Force (1998–1999).[1] Hall is considered by many to be the father of the industrial enterprise zone concept, adopted by countries worldwide to develop industry in disadvantaged areas.


Hall was born in Hampstead, north London, England. In 1940 his family moved to Blackpool, when his father, a clerical officer in the pensions service, was relocated. Hall attended Blackpool Grammar School and then went on to graduate from St Catharine's, Cambridge with a Master's degree and Doctorate in Geography before starting his academic career in 1957 as lecturer at Birkbeck College, University of London.[3] He later became a reader in geography at the London School of Economics. Hall was a founding editor of the academic journal Regional Studies which has become a leading international journal in its field.

In 1968, aged only 37, Hall was appointed Professor of Geography and Head of Department at the University of Reading. He remained Head of Department until 1980, but in the meantime served as Chair of the Planning School from 1971 (for a total of 9 years until 1986) as well as Dean of Urban and Regional Planning for 3 years. Running parallel through the 1980s, he was also Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, moving often between the two posts. He left Reading in 1989 and Berkeley in 1992 to take up the Chair of Planning at The Bartlett, University College, London, where he remained until his death.

Hall was married to Carla Wartenberg from 1962 to 1966, and Magdalena Mróz from 1967 until his death. He died in London on 30 July 2014 at the age of 82.[4] There are many obituaries to his career and impact.[5]


He wrote and edited 50 books, some of them translated into several other languages. In an interview for the Guardian, in January 2014, Prof Hall also estimated that he had written around 2,100 articles and shorter pieces. He also suggested that he had travelled about 70,000 miles for each of the past 40 years, studying and advising upon cities and regions.

During the 1970s and 1980s he influenced Margaret Thatcher in advocating the establishment of an urban development corporation for Docklands (now Canary Wharf), a London orbital motorway (the M25) and the creation of a third London airport at Stansted. Each was built and became a legacy of her government.

In the early 1990s, under John Major's government, he was Special Adviser on strategic planning (1991–94) to the Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine and helped shape the vision of the East Thames Corridor (later Thames Gateway) and Channel Tunnel rail link (now HS1).

Hall advised Tony Blair's New Labour government as part of Richard Rogers' Urban Task Force (1998–1999). He was famously uncomfortable with some of the dense developments advocated as a model, referred to by some as 'town cramming'. He was also a member of the expert advisory committee to the review of the planning system headed by the economist Kate Barker (2006) and the Eco-Towns Challenge Panel (2008).

He was a long-standing advocate of the 'Garden City' principles and the potential for satellite towns. He argued that, while large cities have their place, smaller cities on the garden-city model have enormous potential and remained wed 'to a huge new programme of garden cities'. All three main political parties in the United Kingdom had moved to that position by the time of his death. He was knighted in 1998 for services to the Town and Country Planning Association.

Academic work[edit]

His first book to attract widespread attention, London 2000 (1963) argued for major replanning of London and the south-east of England. His book The World Cities (1966) was published simultaneously in six languages in 1966. A Chinese edition came out in 1982, a year before the English third edition. In The Containment of Urban England (1973) he presented an analysis of the British town and country planning system, based on a formidable amount of statistical research. It focuses on the processes of urban growth in England and Wales since World War II and describes how the planning movement tried to contain and guide it.

Hall charted the history of modern attempts to shape and control the development of the city, including efforts to plan London's growth. He co-wrote Sociable Cities (1998), an analysis of the legacy of Ebenezer Howard, whose Garden Cities of To-Morrow (1902), became the most influential and important book in the history of 20th-century city planning. A major revision of Sociable Cities was published in 2014. That same year, Hall published a revised version of his 1998 classic, Cities in Civilization: Culture, Technology and Urban Order, an 1169-page venture into the comparative cultural history of cities, which investigates the exceptional cultural creativity which distinguished the world’s great cities in their golden ages, from ancient Athens to late 20th-century London.

In 2006, he completed direction of a two-year, seven-country study of Polycentric Mega-City-Regions in Europe, financed by a €2.4 million grant from the European Union. In 2009, he co-authored a report on future train stations for the UK transport secretary, and launched Sintropher, a five-year, €22m (£17.4m), transnational EU programme bringing together five regions in north-west Europe to promote new transport technologies, particularly for tram, train and air intermodal transfer, to assist regional development.

In his final years, Hall strongly perceived that British planners had fallen behind their European counterparts. His last book Good Cities: Better Lives and last book chapter The Strange Death of British Planning: And How to Bring About a Miraculous Revival, both published in 2014, stress this point and seek to direct attention to planning examples from mainland Europe. His vision of clusters of existing towns and new garden cities to form new dynamic city regions in the north-west, the Midlands and the south-east of England won his team a commendation in the Wolfson economics prize competition in May 2014.[6]

Honours and awards[edit]

Hall was knighted in 1998 for services to the Town and Country Planning Association. He was awarded the Vautrin Lud International Geography Prize in 2001; the Royal Town Planning Institute Gold Medal and the Founder's Medal of the Royal Geographical Society for distinction in research in 2003; and the Balzan Prize for the Social and Cultural History of Cities since the Beginning of the 16th Century in 2005. He won the last award "for his unique contribution to the history of ideas about urban planning, his acute analysis of the physical, social and economic problems of modern cities and his powerful historical investigations into the cultural creativity of city life."[7] He also won the Regional Studies Prize for Overall Contribution to the Field of Regional Studies in 2008.

Hall held fourteen honorary doctorates from universities in the UK, Sweden and Canada. He was a Fellow of the British Academy; and a Member of the Academia Europaea and the Austrian Academy of Sciences. He was also on the Board of Trustees of The Architecture Foundation.

On 30th April 2015 Transport for London dedicated a train in recognition of his contribution to London's transport infrastructure. The train, Number 378 204, is a five-carriage London Overground train.[8][9]



  • Peter Hall (2013) Good Cities, Better Lives: How Europe Discovered the Lost Art of Urbanism. London: Routledge.
  • Peter Hall (2007) London Voices, London Lives: Tales from a Working Capital. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Nick Buck, Ian Gordon, Peter Hall, Michael Harloe, and Mark Kleinman (2002) Working Capital: Life and Labour in Contemporary London. London: Routledge.
  • Peter Hall, Ulrich Pfeiffer (2000) Urban Future 21: a Global Agenda for Twenty-First Century Cities. London: Routledge. (updated 2013)
  • Peter Hall, Colin Ward (1998) Sociable Cities: Legacy of Ebenezer Howard. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
  • Peter Hall (1998) Cities in Civilization: Culture, Technology, and Urban Order. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; New York: Pantheon Books.
  • Peter Hall, Manuel Castells (1994) Technopoles of the World: The Making of 21st-Century Industrial Complexes. . London: Routledge.
  • Ann Markusen, Peter Hall, Scott Campbell, and Sabina Deitrick (1991) The Rise of the Gunbelt: The Military Remapping of Industrial America. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Peter Hall (1989) London 2001 London: Unwin Hyman.
  • Peter Hall (1988) Cities of Tomorrow: An Intellectual History of Urban Planning and Design in the Twentieth Century Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. Reprinted 1988. Updated 1996, 2002.
  • Peter Hall and Paschal Preston (1988) The Carrier Wave: New Information Technology and the Geography of Innovation 1846–2003. London: Unwin Hyman.
  • Peter Hall, Michael J. Breheny, Ronald McQuaid, and Douglas Hart (1987) Western Sunrise: The Genesis and Growth of Britain's Major High Tech Corridor. London: Unwin Hyman.
  • Peter Hall, Ann Markusen and Amy K. Glasmeier (1986) High-Tech America: The What, How, Where and Why of the Sunrise Industries. Boston: Allen & Unwin.
  • Michael J. Breheny, Douglas A. Hart, and Peter Hall (1986) Eastern Promise? Development Prospects for the M11 Corridor. Spatial and Economic Associates, Faculty of Urban and Regional Studies, University of Reading.
  • Peter Hall and Carmen Hass-Klau (1985) Can Rail save the City? The Impact of Rail Rapid Transit and Pedestrianisation on British and German Cities. Aldershot: Gower Publishing.
  • Peter Hall and Dennis Hay (1980) Growth Centres in the European Urban System. London: Heinemann.
  • Peter Hall (1980) Great Planning Disasters. London: Weidenfeld.
  • Peter Hall (1975) Urban and Regional Planning. Harmondsworth/London: Penguin. Reprinted 1982; Newton Abbott, David and Charles, 1975; London: Routledge, 1992, 2002, fifth edition 2010 with Mark Tewdwr-Jones.
  • Marion Clawson and Peter Hall (1973) Planning and Urban Growth: An Anglo-American Comparison. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins.
  • Peter Hall, with Ray Thomas, Harry Gracey, and Roy Drewett (1973) The Containment of Urban England. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.; Beverley Hills: Sage Publications Inc. (Two volumes. Vol. 1: "Urban and Metropolitan Growth Processes or Megalopolis Denied"; Vol. 2: "The Planning System: Objectives, Operations, Impacts")
  • Peter Hall (1966) The World Cities. London: World University Library, Weidenfeld & Nicolson. (French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish translations published simultaneously) Reprinted 1977, 1983.
  • Peter Hall (1963) London 2000. London, Faber & Faber. Reprinted 1969, 1971.

Edited volumes[edit]

  • Peter Hall and Kathy Pain (eds.) (2006) Polycentric Metropolis: Learning from Mega-city Regions in Europe. London, Sterling, VA: Earthscan.
  • Michael J. Breheny and Peter Hall (eds.) 1999. The people: where will they work? National report of the TCPA Regional Inquiry into Housing Need and Provision in England. Town and Country Planning Association.
  • Michael J. Breheny and Peter Hall (eds.) (1996). The people: where will they go? National report of the TCPA Regional Inquiry into Housing Need and Provision in England. Town and Country Planning Association.
  • Peter Hall and Ann Markusen (eds.) (1985). Silicon Landscapes. Boston: Allen & Unwin.
  • Peter Hall (ed.) (1981) The Inner City in Context. London: Heinemann.
  • Peter Hall (ed.) (1977)Europe 2000. London: Duckworth.

Book Chapters[edit]

  • Peter Hall. The Strange Death of British Planning: And How to Bring About a Miraculous Revival. In: Manns, J, (ed.) Kaleidoscope City: Reflections on Planning and London. (56–62). Birdcage Print: London (2014).
  • Peter Hall and Colomb, C. In: Hutchinson, R, (ed.) Encyclopedia of urban studies. (340–341). Sage: London (2010).
  • Peter Hall. The United Kingdom’s Experience in Revitalizing Inner Cities. In: Ingram G and Hong Y-H (ed.) Land Policies and their Outcomes: Proceedings of the 2006 Land Policy Conference. (259–283). Lincoln Institute of Land Policy: Cambridge, Mass (2007).
  • Peter Hall. Delineating Urban Territories: Is this a Relevant Issue? In: Cattan N (ed.) Cities and Networks in Europe: A Critical Approach of Polycentrism. (3–14). Éditions John Libbey Eurotext: Montrouge (2007).
  • Peter Hall. From Coronation to Jubilee. In: Buonfino A and Mulgan G (ed.) Porcupines in Winter: The Pleasures and Pains of Living Together in Modern Britain. (16–22). Young Foundation: London (2006).
  • Peter Hall. Why Some Cities Flourish while Others Languish. In: UN-Habitat (ed.) The State of the World’s Cities Report, 2006/2007. (13). UN-Habitat/Earthscan: London (2006).
  • Peter Hall. What is the Future of Capital Cities? In: Gordon DLA (ed.) Planning Twentieth Century Capital Cities. (270–274). (2006).
  • Peter Hall. The Land Fetish: Densities and London Planning. In: Kochan B (ed.) London: Bigger and Better? (84–93). (2006).



  1. ^ a b Prof. Sir Peter Hall, Bartlett School of Planning
  2. ^ Regional Studies Association
  3. ^ Interview in The Guardian, 2007
  4. ^ RTPI, "RTPI pays tribute to Sir Peter Hall", 31 July 2014
  5. ^ "Peter Hall Obituary in Environment and Planning A". Retrieved 2014-11-03. 
  6. ^ Simon Wicks, "Peter Hall: Master Planner", The Planner, 08/09/2014 [1]
  7. ^ UCL News on Balzan Prize 2005
  8. ^ University College London, News, "TfL names London Overground train in honour of Sir Peter Hall" [2]
  9. ^ Planning Magazine, "Diary", Issue 2014, 9 October 2015, p.32
  • Honorary Degree Orations, Loughborough University 2005
  • UCL News 2005,Thames Gateway Forum 2006 (Dr Jabed Rahman)

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by
Jeremy Bray
Chairman of the Fabian Society
1971 – 1972
Succeeded by
Anthony Lester