Steve Smith DipLA CMLI played an important role in Milton Keynes and later became an enthusiast for and chronicler of co-partnership housing.
After a period of severe illness, Steve Smith succumbed to a particularly aggressive strain of bone marrow cancer shortly before Christmas 2013.
Born in November 1947, Smith was a student at Manchester Polytechnic under that outstanding teacher of landscape design Rex Fairbrother. After qualifying in 1971, he joined the Runcorn Development Corporation Landscape design team.
He became committed to the challenge of the garden cities and new towns movements and moved to Milton Keynes in 1978 to join the town’s northern multi disciplinary section, and subsequently transferred to the central landscape unit.
He was quietly effective, achieving excellent standards of landscape design in private housing, children’s play areas and, notably, in the presentation of the reconstructed Roman Villa at Bancroft as a major feature in the adjoining parkland.
Following the unfortunate exit of the landscape planner from the design team, Smith took over that key role. Again he quietly and effectively worked on the formulation and public presentation of park-development principles and park development plans for most of the 1750 ha of parks in Milton Keynes. These formed the basis of design briefs and the Milton Keynes Parks Trust’s remit for parks’ activity management throughout the system.
Following the sad demise of the MK Greentown project, Smith became a member of a surviving remnant group who combined their skills and energies to build their own houses in the Loughton area of the city. Inspired by this achievement, he became an enthusiastic believer in cooperative activities and housing cooperatives in particular.
After his involvement with self build he discovered that his grandfather and great grandfather were part of the first co-partnership housing group formed in Ealing, which led to his interest in co-partnership and cooperative housing, some principles of which influenced later developments such as the New Towns. He researched the detailed history and compiled a record of a number of these. His wife Jean has generously agreed that this typically thorough work should be donated to the Landscape Institute archive.
Smith will be sadly missed by many old colleagues as well as by Jean, his daughter Rachel and grandson Beau.