After the Second World War Glasgow was suffering from chronic shortages of housing and poor housing conditions, particularly in areas such as the Gorbals. As a direct result the Clyde Valley Regional Plan 1946 allocated sites where satellite new towns were to be constructed to help alleviate the problem through an overspill agreement. Glasgow would also undertake the development of its peripheral housing estates. Cumbernauld was designated a new town in 1955, the third to be designated in Scotland. The others were East Kilbride, Glenrothes, Livingston and Irvine (Cowling 1997).
The development, promotion and management was undertaken, until 1996, by the Cumbernauld Development Corporation (CDC). This was a quango appointed by the Secretary of State for Scotland (Cowling 1997).
The video below shows the vision of Cumbernauld in the 50’s. Unfortunately that vision was never fully realised and the town centre which was so visionary in it’s day has been run down by various groups over the years and has become unsightly which is one of the major reasons that the town has a poor reputation. When you centre a town around a single building and then let that go it affects the image of the whole town.
Cumbernauld is the most clear example of a modernist new town vision in the UK. Housing was originally delivered through constructing a series of satellite neighbourhoods which were clustered around the hilltop town centre. Separation of people and cars was a major element of the first town masterplan and this was carried through for much of the development of the town. Cumbernauld pioneered designs for underpasses and pedestrian footbridges as well as segregated footpaths. Early neighbourhoods were designed by the CDC and were constructed at Kildrum, Cumbernauld Village, Seafar, North Carbrain and Greenfaulds. Other neighbourhoods were later developed at Condorrat, South Carbrain and Abronhill. Much of the housing of these areas won awards for their innovative designs.
During its construction, under the designer’s eye of Geoffrey Copcutt, Cumbernauld town centre’s daring megastructure architecture was highly praised. Architects, designers, town planners and students of many disciplines visited Cumbernauld from around the globe to marvel at the town, for many years heralded as a utopian construction.
When originally designated a New Town the target population was 50,000. In 1961, only five years after becoming a new town, the Area to the north of the A80 was included in the town’s area with new planned neighbourhoods at Balloch, Dullatur, Westerwood and Eastfield. As a result a revised target population of 70,000 was predicted.
After the creation of the new town, diverse industries such as high-tech, electronics, and chemical and food processing became large employers, along with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. The main industrial estates were developed to the east and west along the A80 at Castlecary, Wardpark and Westfield. Areas at Luggiebank and South Carbrain to the south of the town have also been developed for industry.