Saturday, September 3, 2011

A pro-building voice in the Torygraph?

For the good of rural life, we must build houses in the English countryside

People often speak of landscape as “natural”, but it very rarely is. Its appearance is the result of human engagement with the land – mainly agricultural, but also, for many centuries now, industrial. Shops, churches, bridges, roads, mills and potteries, forges and barns. In 1733, someone built Flatford Mill in Suffolk. The artist John Constable used it as the inspiration for the great paintings which, more than any other, encapsulate our view of rural England. I bet the mill would not have got past the planners if such things had existed in 1733. I bet the National Trust would have accused this “industrial unit” of being “out of keeping” with the rural scene. Someone would have slapped a noise abatement order on the hay wain as it creaked and splashed through the ford.

Posted by drewster @ 01:12 PM (1655 views)
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14 thoughts on “A pro-building voice in the Torygraph?

  • So what your saying is that we construct a rural “village” with a lovely selection of identikit houses with double garages and all the block paving you can muster and get Tracey Emin to knock up a picture and in 300 years time people will gaze upon this rural idyll and hold it up as a fine example of inspired planning say like the Bull ring.

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  • crash bandicoot says:

    How about we construct a modern solution using up to date materials and designs rather than yet more faux cottages. That would at least give us something to look back on as marking this era and would be a better use of all resources – including land.

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  • mark wadsworth says:

    There is more joy in Heaven over one sinner who repenteth etc.

    Charles Moore has written other articles in the last year or two where he finally starts questioning all the prejudices he used to hold dear, my sister read one in which he said that maybe Marx might have had a point about capitalism being prone to destructive cycles.

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  • @2 cb

    Correct. Britain must modernise and refocus onto new ventures and structures. No more museums.

    @3 mw

    Agreed. I truly commend CM for it.

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  • Thanks for the post Drewster …but the article is by Charles Moore, not the finest of minds and a man who would undoubtedly pen a piece on why freedom is slavery if the Tory party told him so.
    However, your comment attached interested me. If you want to revisit the cutural and social mores of the late 18th and early 19th centuary why start with such an irrelevance as what an imaginary ancestor of the NT would say about a mill development? Go for the bigger issues …like abandoning our misconceived contemporary concept of “childhood”. Getting some of the millions of the nations overindulged, gobby, corpulent bonzai adults involved in some serious compulsory manual labour would be a blessing for all concerned. No more obesity, spotless streets, a proper sense of values, respect and responsibility inculcated on a deep level and from an early age….even the tantalising possibility of cheap deep mined domestic coal if Phillip Green or another private sector “Dragon” gets involved.

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  • @5 clockslinger

    You’re as guilty of being stuck in the past. I say ‘reinvent’. Genuinely change.

    Put your mind to that, and save some timepieces.

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  • Sound advice Dill. Still, I genuinely believe that three fundamental changes are required as part of addressing the mess we are undoubtedly in:- the abandoning of any attempt to continue exponential economic growth, a massive realignnment in income and wealth differentials and a deep reassessment of the sanity of promoting material possessions as a primary source of status and fulfillment. Given that position I would suggest that putting such intangibles as beauty and preservation at the centre of planning policy is a priority, not a luxury. I certainly don’t see our (remarkably unchanging) Tory party hack Mr Moore grasping any of that (except the last bit cause he has probably read an opinion piece by Roger Scruton, who is a bright lad as it goes)
    As for the apparently accepted idea that HPI is a product of undersupply, I’ll leave that to Steve Keene to explain in the next entry on the main topics board.

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  • We need a new Arts and Crafts movement to beautify manual labour and a resurgence in manual skills and crafts. Start by replanting and restoring hedgerows, rebuild and repair the 1000’s of miles of decrepit dry-stone walling, bring back orchards and maintain our grubby and neglected roadsides. In urban areas derelict land should be restored to use, privately owned land inadequately maintained should be siezed and put back to good use, this would apply especially to privately held land banks. We need to repopulate and rejuvenate rural Britain and this starts with rural jobs not second or commuter homes for city dwellers who should sacrifice the right to live in such areas for the privilege of higher earnings, if they want to spend their weekends in the coutryside they should book a hotel, B&B or holiday chalet.

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  • holding out @1, clockslinger @5,
    That’s not my comment – I was quoting directly from the article.

    enuii @8,
    Nice ideals. Who’s going to pay for it all? Beautiful walls aren’t cheap. Those rural jobs won’t create themselves. City-dwellers won’t want to be taxed to pay for prettier hedgerows to be enjoyed by rural folk.

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  • Who said anything about enjoying hedgerows, hedgerows are natural fencing that lasts 100’s of years but requires a little regular maintenance like cutting. Entirely sensible unlike the rural dwelling BMW driving commuters who have a hoovered up rural dwellings and a few acres beside for their pet nags, goats, ducks, ornamental pigs or horridly spoilt brats to ride crossers on. Anyway city dwellers are already taxed for the privilege of living in the grotty immigrant filled dumps we call cities, in particular London, Birmingham and Manchester.

    I’m completely convinced that the rest of the UK would get along just fine without them.

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  • Back in from the pub and I’m in a bad mood, if it wasn’t for the sh1te mortgage advise of the Halifax 24 years ago, Standard Life, raising 3 kids and the poor health of er-indoors I would have paid the mortgage off next year. Instead I’ve got another 19 years to go during which I could have saved some extra money to retire on and will have spent the grand sum of £159600 on an exactly national average priced house (Halifax index) that was £36K in 1987, god knows how much that would have compounded to in a normal savings account but I’m not going to work it out.

    Normal, run of the mill housing in this country is an utter rip-off and is sucking the financial life out of this country and is a complete ponzi scheme stoked by the banks, government and the big housebuilders.

    Thinking bricks ‘n’ mortar are an investment has caused more damage to this country than any enemy it has faced over the last 1000 years. From the thicko spiv landlords and their chains of tarted up former terraced slums to the knobs that think a 2 up 2 down in kensington is worth 3 million quid they are all the same and have brought zero benefit to this country just a trail of misery for ordinary folks who actually do a days work for a living.

    Rant over and I’m not returning to these pages until I’ve restored some clear and rational mental focus.

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  • @11 enuii

    Damn good rant, though.

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  • Get this then. Spoke to a chap eariler today (in my village). He has a plot of land with a partial derelict house on it which has to be pulled down. He had applied for planning to build a larger property, as it’s on a reasonable size plot. Planning was refused, and he was given the following options: 1. Rebuild a property of identical proportions. Or 2. Build 6 properties. WTF is that about? I though planning was decide if you could build or not. If they would approve 6 properties, then why not one large one. [email protected]

    @ enuii 8…. Most new builds these days come with a ‘postage stamp’ garden. If they swapped fences for hedges, there’d be no garden left.

    I’m not a country bumpkin, but i do prefer to live in the country rather than town/city. There is a need for both. A lot of villages around my way are being developed so much they risk being merged into each other. And the number of new houses are far out-stripping the number of original village houses. IMO planning should protect the villages more. But also look to develops new villages, towns and cities.

    However, supply (Or lack of), is not the problem. House prices being 6-10 tiems salary IS the problem. But that’s where we are. That’s where government, banks, and developers have led us. We are living in a period of unaffordable property. And have to frin and bare it.

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  • Hear hear ennui.

    Readers may like to listen to John Gray’s Point of View, broadcast on R4 this morning at 8.50.

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