Hemel Hempstead


Designated 4 February 1947

The third of the London ‘ring towns’, Hemel Hempstead was designated to help in decentralising the population of Greater London. Hemel Hempstead had been a town since the middle ages, and of all the ‘Mark One’ New Towns had the largest and most deeply rooted existing population. This presented a challenge in integrating old and new communities and, as at Stevenage and Crawley, there was much opposition at designation. But by 1957 there was evidence that the mixing had been very successful. With a population of just over 85,000 (just over its 1960 target population of 80,000), Hemel Hempstead is today the primary settlement in Dacorum Borough. Much of the town’s infrastructure is over 50 years old and in need of renewal. The town centre and Maylands Business Park are designated as key regeneration areas.

Key facts:

  • Location: 42 kilometres north west of London, based around a thriving market town at the confluence of two rivers.
  • 2011 Census population: 85,786, in 35,675 households.
  • Local authority: Dacorum Borough Council.
  • Local Plan status: Dacorum Local Planning Framework Core Strategy 2006-2031 (adopted 2013), plus saved policies from Dacorum Local Plan 1991-2011.

New Town designation:

  • Designated: 4 February 1947.
  • Designated area: 2,392 hectares.
  • Intended population: 60,000, revised in 1960 to 80,000 (population at designation: 21,120). Development Corporation: The original masterplan was influenced by Geoffrey Jellicoe’s vision of a town in a park with generous open spaces in and around the town centre and the residential neighbourhoods. This was modified by the Development Corporation, but Jellicoe’s vision for the town centre was largely retained, including his unique designs for modern water gardens. Development Corporation wound up 31 March 1962.

Figures taken from Hemel Hempstead ‘5 minute’ fact sheet – TCPA New Towns and Garden Cities, Lessons for Tomorrow research, available here.

Council website:


Information about regeneration:


Local museums and archives:

The Dacorum Heritage Trust: https://www.dacorumheritage.org.uk/

Hemel Hempstead at 70: