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Obituary: Sir Peter Hall

Leading expert in town planning and Birkbeck Fellow

Birkbeck was saddened to hear of the death on 30 July 2014 of College Fellow Sir Peter Hall (1932-2014), Professor of Planning and Regeneration at the Bartlett, University College London, and President of the Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA).

Knighted for his services to the TCPA in 1998, Sir Peter Hall was renowned for his work on the economic, demographic, cultural and management issues that face cities around the globe. During the 1990s, he was directly involved in public policy, advising the then Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine on the early vision for the Thames Gateway and Channel Tunnel rail link. A fellow of the British Academy and a prolific author, he travelled widely over many years studying and advising on cities and regions.

Peter Hall was educated at Blackpool grammar school and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he gained a masters and doctorate in geography. He began his academic career at Birkbeck in 1957 as an assistant lecturer in geography, and had an early fascination with the historical development of London and its traditional industries in the East End.

While at Birkbeck he took his students on field trips around Brick Lane, walking streets that hadn’t changed since the 1890s. He was awarded a Birkbeck Fellowship in 2012, and said at the time how delighted he was to see Birkbeck’s contribution to the regeneration of Stratford, east London, through the creation of University Square Stratford.

Professor Hall became a Reader in Geography at the London School of Economics, then Professor of Geography at the University of Reading from 1968 to 1989. He was also for many years professor in the department of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, before taking up the chair of planning at the Bartlett, in which he was involved until his death.

His obituary in the Guardian newspaper in July notes that the Queen described Sir Peter as a ‘pioneer in the life of the nation’ at a Buckingham Palace reception in 2003.