Thursday, September 01, 2005

I have a cunning plan...

Sitting on the Town Council Planning Committee gives an insight into things likely to happen in the town, although the gap between seeing the plans and the skips being delivered to the premises can be a long time (if they ever happen at all- there is no obligation to implement the plans, although they will lapse within 3 years or so if not actually started).

In amongst the comparative routine of the minor extensions, conservatories and changes of use, every now and then something big or unusual may come along. A large hotel was recently proposed which is to be welcomed even if it is rather bland by the standards of some.

Another scheme was the conversion of a former chapel to flats, simple in itself but it was going to "blight the townscape" by a "hideous carbuncle" in the words of others. I wasn't overly bothered by it myself but I thought that the florid prose and architect's drawings oversold something rather dull and it was rather rough on the adjacent houses whose bedrooms would be overlooked by the roof garden. As it happened, the developer came up with a much less controversial scheme but another one made me wonder. An extension to an end-terrace was going to have a flat roof forming a balcony in order to enjoy the view of a hillside opposite. However, the said residents could then also potentially overlook the gardens of the other terraced houses as well, which would invade their privacy. I did point out that anyone could quite happily stare obliquely out of their own window which was perfectly legal behavour but it seems that doing the same in the comfort of a chair with drink in hand is much more hienous and to be objected to. Not even the fallback of obscured glass would sway the opinions.

My libertarian view is that is their own house and simply constructing it that way should be their own choice, their actions being the ones to object to if they actually do dump on others. Having said that, this reeks of individualism, a trait to be discouraged by Town Planners in these enlightened times.

So, however did we manage in the dark old days before the Town and Country Planning Act, when anything went and the buildings were of poor quality? Well it might surprise many to find that it was only introduced in 1947. Since then we have replaced the dreadful technique of town evolution based on usage (going back to roman times) with are much more elegant central planning, the schemes that gave us Coventry, Milton Keynes, Peterlee, Welwyn Garden City and Harlow.

Equally delightfully, we have been able to replace those dour twiddly victorian, edwardian and between the wars horrors with such wonders as Arndale Centres, Centre Point style concrete blocks and those workers paradise high rises that every local authority cherishes.

Er... just run that by me again?

1 comment:

Clifton Reader said...

Where can I to learn abt it in detail?