Tributes to a man of drive and real vision

Urbane urbanist: Sir Peter Hall who as chairman of Blackpool's regeneration agency from 2004 to 2008 fought for the masterplan to transform the town.
Urbane urbanist: Sir Peter Hall who as chairman of Blackpool's regeneration agency from 2004 to 2008 fought for the masterplan to transform the town.
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Tributes have poured in for one of the country’s leading urban planners, Sir Peter Hall.

Sir Peter, who was 82, came to live in Blackpool as a boy during the Second World War and was educated at Blackpool Grammar School.

His father was a clerical officer in the pensions service and, although Sir Peter worked all over the country, he never forgot his time in Blackpool.

He returned to chair the Blackpool regeneration agency ReBlackpool from 2004 to 2008 and was a keen promoter of the resort’s bid to host a supercasino.

He was also a strong supporter of Blackpool’s trams system and fought to establish a link between the trams and the railway using hybrid diesel trams to run on the railway line from the Pleasure Beach to Preston.

Sir Peter took a degree and PhD in Geography at St Catharine’s College Cambridge and lectured at several universities and colleges.

He championed urban garden cities, huge projects such as Crossrail in London, and was considered by many to be the father of the industrial enterprise zone concept.

He was advisor to successive governments and was knighted in 1998 for services to the Town and Country Planning Association.

Former Blackpool North MP and Blackpool Civic Trust chairman Joan Humble said he was a highly respected figure nationally and locally.

She said: “He was a man who shared a vision for Blackpool that would support that which was best in our past but also that which would move us forward into the 21st Century.

“His support was very important to Blackpool. People listened to what he had to say, he was so respected and I am very sad he has died.”

Alan Cavill, Director of Places for the council, said: “Blackpool Council was saddened to hear of the loss of Sir Peter Hall. This giant of the world of urban planning was educated in Blackpool and had returned to the town to help us with regeneration as Chair of ReBlackpool and latterly he was leading on a project to help innovate the tram system even further.

“He will be greatly missed and our thoughts are with his family at this sad time”.

At the time of the super-casino bid, Sir Peter spoke at a regeneration conference at the Reebok stadium and said: “Blackpool is a town which has lost its industry, lost its focus during the 1980s and some may say it has lost its appetite to attract. We have a unique chance here to change around the fortunes of a resort which many have already written off and this chance comes with the urban regeneration of some of the most deprived areas of the town.”

The casino bid later came to nothing but Sir Peter fought on for the town until he stepped down from ReBlackpool in 2008 and helped lay the foundations for the Talbot Gateway and Prom regeneration. He also opened the Solaris Centre in 2004 after the £1.5m project to create a renewable energy hub from the former Harrowside Solarium.