I am all for fairness and social equality but do we really believe that everyone has vision and that the most downtrodden of society are the group to turn to when we are looking for inspiration to take the liveability and housing agenda forward. Creative minds are most certainly not restricted to the middle classes but how can we expect people who have been given shit housing and shit places for years to imagine utopia . But that is exactly what is going on up and down the country. In return for “regenerating” (how I hate that word, it just rubs in how rubbish we have been in the past) run down estates and paying for it by increasing density and offering housing for sale, the existing residents are being courted through ridiculously lengthy periods of public consultation and asked to come up with how they want to live.
Is it any wonder that communities who have had to live with damp walls cant think past a shiny new kitchen and don’t care about the design of the buildings?
Is it any wonder that after years of suffering crime and anti social behaviour, that they are fearful of open spaces and don’t want street trees planting for fear of muggers hiding behind them and parks become drug dealing venues?
Is it any wonder that after the council allowed their underground car parks to become over run with rats that the residents vote against underground parking and allow their “regenerated “ streets to become massive, ugly and pedestrian and cyclist unfriendly car parks.
Is it any wonder that after years of councils allowing Aldi and Lidl to open on the seafront in our run down seaside towns that the first priority on the residents lists are new public bloody toilets?
Is it any wonder that they have lost the ability to wonder?
Could you imagine M & S or Tesco or Toyota or Nike launching a new product idea and aiming at those of lowest aspiration first? Vast sums are spent on ensuring that products first reach, what are referred to in marketing terms as the “leaders”, in the knowledge that the” leader followers” will soon be onto these products, followed by the “leader follower followers” and so on. Successful businesses don’t design and launch products from the bottom up so why do we do it with that most important of things, the places where we live.
We need vision and inspiration that comes from hope and positivity not the negativity that naturally comes from a community that has been downtrodden.
Let’s dream and ensure that communities are working with people who can bring out what has been suppressed from their imagination.