OBITUARY: Professor Gordon Cherry

Gordon Cherry was a leading figure in the scholarly study of town planning. He made a significant and lasting contribution to the evolution of planning both as an academic discipline and as an area of public policy which has profound effects on people and the environment.

His work is typified by a determination to interpret the present and shape the future through an understanding of the past: geography, history, economics, politics and town planning all contribute. To present-day students this may seem almost self-evidently appropriate; that in itself is a tribute to the methodology Cherry pioneered through his research and writing.

A native of Barnsley - and always proud of his Yorkshire origins - he read Geography at Queen Mary College, London, graduating in 1953. After National Service he entered local government, working in city planning departments in Durham, Hull, Doncaster, Sheffield and finally, in 1963, Newcastle upon Tyne where, under Wilfred Burns and Kenneth Galley, his research began to flourish. It was here that he prepared the material for his first book, Town Planning in its Social Context (1970).

A chance meeting with Professor Barry Cullingworth in 1968 led Cherry to accept an invitation to become Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Centre of Urban and Regional Studies in Birmingham University. He found great satisfaction in the academic life: he was an exceptionally fine teacher, an efficient administrator and a productive scholar. Election to the Chair of Urban and Regional Planning followed in 1976; between 1981 and 1986 he served as the Dean of the Faculty of Commerce and Social Science; and, for the last four years before he took early retirement in 1991, he was Head of the School of Geography. During the same period, he found time to be the university's Public Orator.

Within his academic discipline, Cherry specialised in the history of planning. He was a founder member and chairman of the Planning History Group, which evolved under his leadership into the International Planning History Society, whose overall aim is to define the character of contemporary planning problems through analysis of their historical origins. With the same objective he helped to found and then edit Planning Perspective, which is now the leading international journal in the field.

Cherry's publications reveal the same fundamental concern: Urban Change and Planning (1972); The Evolution of British Town Planning (1974); The Politics of Town Planning (1982); Holford: a study in planning, architecture and civil design (with J.L. Penney, 1986); and his last book, Birmingham: a study in geography, history and planning (1994).

Gordon Cherry was never happier than when fully engaged; first in his list of recreations in Who's Who was "work". His energy - clearly visible in the speed and purposefulness of his walk - was generously expended in activities such as serving on a group which advised the Sports Council on research, leisure and recreation (for 10 years to 1977), and as Official Historian, with his colleague Barry Cullingworth, working on cabinet and other papers on environmental planning in the post-war period (1970-75). From this investigation came his important publication Environmental Planning, Volume II: National Parks and Recreation in the Countryside (1975).

In addition, for 10 years Cherry was a member of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England; on the Landscape Advisory Committee of the Department of Transport; and - following his retirement - Chairman of the Bournville Village Trust (of which he had been a trustee since 1979). Even during his final illness when to a considerable extent robbed of speech and increasingly of movement - though undimmed in mind and spirit - Cherry insisted on reading trust papers. No one who saw him in his last weeks could fail to be moved by his remarkable courage.

A man of deep religious faith, Gordon Cherry contributed to a number of the Church's studies of the environment and society. He served, for example, on the Bishop of Birmingham's commission which published Faith in the City in 1980, and sat for many years on the Diocesan Board of Social Responsibility. In his village he acted as churchwarden and secretary to the church council. Among his recreations he listed "church ecumenism" and "enjoyment of family life". His sharp intelligence, ebullient personality and lively sense of humour made him a stimulating as well as an immensely rewarding companion.

Gordon Emanuel Cherry, town planning historian: born Barnsley 6 February 1931; Research Officer, Newcastle-upon-Tyne City Planning Department 1963- 68; Professor of Urban and Regional Studies, Birmingham University 1976- 91 (Emeritus), Dean, Faculty of Commerce and Social Science 1981-86, Head, School of Geography 1987-91, Public Orator 1987-91; Fellow, Institute for Advanced Research in the Humanities 1991-96; President, Royal Town Planning Institute 1978-79; married 1957 Margaret Cox (one son, two daughters); died Hampton-in-Arden, West Midlands 11 January 1996.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Have you been doing a brilliant job in an admi...

Recruitment Genius: Interim Head of HR

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you an innovative, senior H...

Recruitment Genius: Human Resources and Payroll Administrator

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client, a very well respect...

Recruitment Genius: HR Consultant

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An HR Consultant is required to join thi...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable