We're celebrating the platinum anniversary of Hemel Hempstead being declared a New Town.
It was 70 years ago - on 4 February in 1947 - that the town was earmarked for expansion, coming to the rescue of Londoners living in slum housing or whose homes had been bombed during the Second World War. An ambitious building programme began and the first New Town residents moved into their homes in Adeyfield in 1950.
We'll be looking back over the town's history in the spring issue of our residents' magazine Dacorum Digest, which will be on your doorsteps by the end of the month.
Cllr Andrew Williams, Leader of the Council, reflects: “Hemel Hempstead's 70th ‘new town’ anniversary coincides with the start of a new chapter in our history. We're just completing our Hemel Evolution regeneration of Hemel Hempstead, which has transformed the town centre and taken it to the finals of the Great British High Street Awards 2016.
"Staying true to our roots, we're also fulfilling an ambitious £50 million programme to build 300 new homes by 2020. And as a newly designated Enterprise Zone, Maylands will continue to provide major employment opportunities for our residents as they have since the first factory was built there in 1950."
Over the next four decades Hemel Hempstead grew - developing eight new neighbourhoods, a new town centre on Marlowes and a thriving industrial estate around Maylands Avenue. According to the national census, Hemel’s population grew from just over 20,000 in 1951 to over 55,000 in 1961. At the last census in 2011 the population was 94,932, but is now estimated to be over 100,000.
Cllr Williams continues: "Looking back over our New Town heritage shows us just how far we've come. The Forum opened just a few weeks ago, putting the public at the heart of council and voluntary services, and revolutionising the way we work. I'm confident that Hemel Hempstead is in the best possible position to welcome in the next 70 years, allowing the communities of Dacorum to thrive and prosper."