Prince William hailed the “visionary planning” behind the British city of Milton Keynes on Tuesday as he led celebrations for the 50th anniversary of one of the best-known British “new towns.”
The British Government started developing new towns in the 1950s to alleviate urban housing crisis after World War II.
It officially designated Milton Keynes a new town in January 1967, naming it after a village that today formed part of the city of 270,000 residents.
To mark the 50-year anniversary, William attended a ceremony in Campbell Park in the centre of the city and met civic leaders, viewed driverless cars made by a local high-technology company, and talked to local charity staff.
He also played table football with members of a mental health group sponsored by local football team, MK Dons, and mounted a life-sized elephant made from recycled material, Kensington Palace said.
Queen Elizabeth II had visited the site of the planned “new green metropolis” in April 1966, William said in a speech.
He added that “no one could have imagined that the farmland that the queen was shown would become the vibrant, diverse, creative and community-focused centre that it is today.
“One of the most impressive things about MK – if I may use the locals’ acronym – is that no one lives more than a few minutes’ walk from a green space, an example of wonderful foresight and planning.
“One of the fears of any visionary planning a new town, is that it will somehow lack heart.
“Not so here, as I have seen for myself; there is a very strong sense of community and belonging in Milton Keynes; a busy cultural, heritage and arts scene and a focus on greenery and sustainability that is optimistic about the future.”
In Britain, particularly among those who never visited the city, Milton Keynes is best known for its many roundabouts and for concrete cows erected close to a main road in the 1970s.