Recently, a survey was undertaken by a website known as C**p Towns Returns, which saw more than 3,000 votes tallied to find out exactly which town centre in the UK is the ass-ugliest.
The 10 ugliest town centres in the UK
The dubious honour has finally been decided to find out which town centre is the ugliest, but before we tell you which town centre takes the gold, we need to explain exactly what it means to be the ugliest.
It’s not necessarily the worst – nor is it necessarily the most impoverished, but simply the town centre that is quite simply the ugliest. It really just comes down to how it looks. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at the list!
In at number 10 is the Tyne and Wear town Gateshead, which is located on the southern bank of the Tyne River and is just opposite Newcastle.
With a population of around 120,000, Gateshead is the home of the MetroCentre, a large shopping centre as well as The Team Valley Trading Estate, initially the largest and still one of the larger purpose-built commercial estates in the United Kingdom.
But even with a decent economy and a long list of famous residents – Andy Carroll, Paul Gascoigne, AC/DC’s Brian Johnson and Bobby Robson, it still makes the list as voted for by the public!
9. Hatfield, Hertfordshire
Hatfield is a quiet little town and civil parish in Hertfordshire with a population of just 39,000 according to the most recent 2011 census.
The economy has enjoyed a decent level of stability as well as improvement with more and more commuters, thanks to its proximity to the capital, moving to Hatfield who work in the more central parts of London.
It is one of the post-war New Towns built around London just after the Second World War and as such, the majority of its architecture is mostly modernistic.
Still, despite it seeming like a nice little country town, it still made the list and is seen, by the voters, to have one of the ugliest town centres in the UK. Maybe the town planner had a day off when they built it! Mind you I’ve never been there, so if you are living in Hatfield, you’ll have to fill me in!
8. Cumbernauld, North Lanarkshire
This Scottish town not only has one of the dubious honours of being in the top 10 ugliest town centres in the UK, it was also recently voted the worst town in Scotland by the voters of the magazine Prospect.
It was named the most dismal town in which to live for the second time by the voters.
Another New Town, which was founded in 1956, was chosen by 28 percent of the 6,000 readers who voted via the magazine’s website.
Tim Abrahams, the deputy editor, said: “It gives us no pleasure that four years after the last award was handed out, Cumbernauld has won the Plook on the Plinth, again.
But the award brought an angry reaction from Rosemary McKenna, the local MP, who said: “If this so-called award actually helped any of the communities it targets, it might have some credibility.”
David Porch, North Lanarkshire Council’s planning director, added: “Our opinion of this ridiculous event is unchanged. It is unhelpful, unjustified and negative.”
Not only was Coventry’s centre voted one of the ugliest in the UK, the city takes home a far more worrying honour, if it is such a thing, when it was named the seventh most dangerous city in Europe, as well as the being the worst in Britain.
The West Midlands city was ranked ahead of former war zone Sarajevo, Glasgow, and only behind some continental cities that are notorious for crime.
It was also ranked, by Word Atlas, as the most dangerous city in the UK.
World Atlas says rankings are based on a wide range of factors including “perceived threat of being annoyed, harassed, insulted, or solicited by locals”.
Other factors include the perception of crime levels, recent changes in crime, safety walking alone and fear of muggings or robberies.
And their football team isn’t doing too well these days either, so that’s gotta sting too.
Mind you though, being named the most dangerous can leave you with perhaps a bit of the wrong impression of the city. Keep in mind that Turin – a beautiful city that acts as a tourist hot spot – was voted ahead of Coventry. Moreover, holiday hotspots such as Naples feature on the list too.
6. Camberley, Surrey
You might think of Surrey as quite a leafy, gentrified area. Well, every place, no matter how posh or poor, has its dark secrets.
And according to the voters of C*** Towns Returns, that black sheep of the Surrey family is Camberley.
In fact, one blogger for Crap Towns had this to say about the town: “Whilst other towns have derived their names from attractive local features (Watford from the ford over the river Wat; Sevenoaks from, well, seven oaks), Camberley, in an early example of corporate branding, was originally named Cambridge Town after the Cambridge Hotel.
“The name was only changed to assist geographically-challenged 19th-century posties who struggled to distinguish the Surrey-based interloper from its more illustrious namesake a mere 86 miles away. The arse and the elbow are differently named for the same reason.
“At an early stage of its development, Daniel Defoe poo-pooed the area as, ‘horrid and frightful to look on; not only good for little but good for nothing.’ But things have changed since then. They’ve built a mall.” Burn.
Ah, the jewel of the Midlands. The second city. If London were to be wiped off the face of the map tomorrow, then Birmingham would the capital of our fare island nation. Let that settle in.
I think that saying that Birmingham’s city centre is the fifth ugliest city centre in the UK is a little unfair, but then I suppose maybe if you live there it’s a little different.
It has become a tourist hotspot in recent decades, and doesn’t really have the reputation it used to. But then again, according to Birmingham Live, a Finnish newspaper recently described Birmingham as “rugged industrial town …full of ugly new buildings.”
The newspaper argued that the architecture of the city – most of which coming after the Second World War, was not as pleasing to the eye as some other cities with pre-war designs.
And it added: “The city fathers demolished everything that the Luftwaffe had not destroyed.”
In the article, which discusses how second cities are often better than ‘more pompous’ capitals, it said: “The travel guide says that Birmingham is not renowned for its beauty.”
“Immediately we are interested. Ugly cities are fascinating, just as rough as the TV series set in British locations.”
“Birmingham has been a rugged industrial town, sooty and smoky.
“The city fathers demolished everything that the Luftwaffe had not destroyed.
“The city is full of ugly new buildings, the most famous of which is the Bullring shopping centre.”
However, it seems as though the article has been taken somewhat out of context, according to a fluent Finnish speaking lecturer at Birmingham City University.
She said: “While the English translation may at first reading appear slightly harsh, the implication from a Finnish perspective may be that Birmingham has some sort of rugged charm, in a potentially positive aesthetic sense.”
“Thus, the Finnish original appears more neutral in its description – a neutrality that is lost in translation and that may also pertain to the reference to ethnic diversity.
“In general, the Finnish tone tends to be matter-of-fact and this specific text may indeed be meant to intrigue and interest the reader.”
Due to Bracknell’s age, the decision was made for the town to undergo some renovation to give it a bit of a face-lift.
Designs and plans were submitted to revamp the town but they were rejected the first time around. However, upon being submitted for a second time by the council, they were this time accepted and the renovation began at an estimated cost of around £750 million.
The first stage of the new development plans began with the building of a new Waitrose store, but that didn’t stop the voters of Crap Towns Returns from voting its town centre as the 4th ugliest in the UK. Man, they just can’t catch a break.
The hometown of The Office, Slough is one of the biggest towns in the Berkshire area and boasts the most global corporate headquarters outside of Europe.
Not only that, but the Slough Trading Estate is the largest industrial estate of a single private ownership status in Europe. Blackberry, McAfee, Burger King and Lego have head offices in the town. The Slough Trading Estate provides over 17,000 jobs in 400 businesses. Slough has the second highest gross value added per worker of cities in UK.
So with all this in mind, it’s not as if Slough is a poor area, but it just seems to have a negative perception. One thing that probably doesn’t help is the crime rate, which is above the average standard in the UK – with a few select categories doubling the average elsewhere in the country.
According to British Crime Survey statistics, as of September 2013, Slough had the second worst rate of crime among local authority areas in the Thames Valley Police counties (87 recorded crimes per 1,000 population against Oxford’s 104).
Who would have thought it, Oxford being the worst. Mind. Blown.
Coming in at number two, and breathing a collective sigh of relief at not being named the worst, is Luton.
But it hasn’t gotten off lightly in recent years though, oh no. There is a history of Luton suffering a poor reputation, as back in 2004, the people spoke and voted Luton as the top of a 50 strong list of the worst places to live in the UK.
More than 20,000 people were asked the question of which was the worst place to live in Britain, with Luton coming out top. The results were eventually been turned into a book – Crap Towns II, The Nation Decides.
The book, which lists “the new top-50 worst places to live in the UK”, is the sequel to 2003’s Crap Towns, which chose Hull as the nation’s worst.
Now you might think that 2004 is a long time ago, and that things might have gotten better for Luton since then. Wrong. In 2016, it was again voted the worst place to live in the UK. It came out on top in a Reddit vote, with some commenters describing it as a “sh*thole”, and “the end of humanity”.
Others commented, “Luton. Horrible town. Horrible inhabitants. Thank god there’s 3 motorway junctions, 2 railway stations and an airport that can be used for a swift exit.”
And to top it all off, they were really voted as having the second ugliest town centre in the UK, which means…
1. Hemel Hempstead
The honour, if you could call it that, of the worst town centre in the UK goes to Hemel Hempstead.
Keeping in mind that the vote centres on unattractive architecture and unappealing town planning as well as town centres, Hemel Hempstead came out on top.
So there you have it, the top ten ugliest town centres in the UK. But what next for the writers who put the list together?
Writers Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran are now on the search for Britain’s “dullest” town.
“It could be a question of nightlife, or lack of it,” they said. “It could be a question of shops, or lack of them. It could be a question of architecture, or lack of it.
“It could also be about the population, the council, the endless, endless roundabouts and traffic jams.
“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes things dull but we all know what dull feels like.
Published April 5, 2018