Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Regeneration of England's Towns

I have just read a news report (well it passes itself off as 'news') that claims that, according to some 'researchers' Cambridge offers the 'blandest' shopping experience in England; even though there are many clothing shops, food shops, even a couple of tobacconists left, as well as tailors and shoemakers. For Goodness' sake, Cambridge is one of the very few towns in which you can still buy decent snuff and separate, stiff collars.

Moreover, these 'researcher' chaps obviously haven't visited one of the towns that have recently been 'regenerated'. This 'regeneration' entails ripping down the perfectly serviceable fabric at the centre of places and chopping down trees which are (sometimes) subject to preservation orders and even demolishing listed buildings. The reality is that this is all done for the sake of Mr Barrett and Mr Wimpey and (as John Betjeman described them in his poem on Slough and to paraphrase him)- all the other bald, fat men with hands so used to stroke their double chins. It certainly is not done to benefit towns or the people of the towns - such as St Austell which is full of mobile 'phone shops, estate agents, banks, building societies and charity shops. There is not one greengrocer. There is one off-licence. The last decent newsagent/tobacconist and sweet shop has gone. Even the old Odeon cinema was sacrificed upon the altar of gerry-builders' gain. The development that has gone up there is guaranteed to last for twenty five years - so much for each generation leaving its mark - as those born now will be rebuilding their town before they are thirty. Ironically, it has been named after the nickname for the river that flows through the town - 'White River Place'. By one of life's little ironies, the river has not been 'white' for around twenty years, as the discharge of clay waste into it was stopped as it was pollution and had stripped the river of all living things for a century. But these goons want to celebrate that fact.

Now it seems that, by implication, such morons would like to get their hands on Cambridge (illustrated) too. Really, I'd believe - and fear - anything at the hands of these people. Watch out Cambridge! Here they come!


  1. Most new buildings have a short life; the bldgs in the city of london have the same expectancy of 25-30 years. The regeneration you decry is grand for all towns in England which slump when there is no rebuilding and/or restoration. That happened for many years in Newcastle for example when the ship building industry died there. Cambridge regeneration is happening because people live around its hub and work there. Wimpey builds fine houses now. Perhaps you are a little out of touch with what is happening in England now. We will be moving into a house made by Wimpey which overlooks the river Colne in Hedingham. It is large and spacious and pretty with views onto the little river. You are talking out of your (no doubt bespoke) hat.

  2. My main points are that I object to wanton destruction of fine buildings that should be preserved as part of our built heritage, in favour of tearing them down so that a developer and all his hangers-on can maximize the profit potential of the sites; I object to the descration of the countryside, with massive, soulless development and the routine felling of fine trees. Wimpey Homes must have improved then from the tens of thousands of matchboxes that they have thrown up over the decades! But you seem proud of the fact that your new house has a lifespan that will match your mortgage - and how many solid internal wall have you got? You are right I am slightly out of touch - because I cannot bear to see what is happening.

  3. Thanks for the extra comment on this, Anon.; you make your points cogently.