Elder Lester and Partners
Dubbed the ‘Miracle of Billingham’, Billingham Urban District Council announced plans in 1961 to develop the town along ‘New Town’ principles without the aid of government funding. Masterplanned by local firm Elder Lester and Partners, the scheme was to be self-financed through local rate charges – a move made possible owing to the presence of Imperial Chemical Industries, a major local employer. Along with several residential blocks, the new town centre was to have a fully pedestrianised shopping precinct, multi-storey parking, and a combined leisure and sports facility. The latter, known as Billingham Forum, opened in 1967 and contains a swimming pool, ice rink and a grade II listed theatre.