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Archive for the ‘Undesirable Housing’ Category

You can’t hide from the words “credit” “crunch” and the dreaded r word “recession”. These terms seem to get sucked into every news story. The art world is described as “disgustingly decadent” as Damien Hirst’s  pickled sharks sell for millions, when surely this is arts version of Malcolm McLaren’s and The Sex Pistols’ Great Rock and Roll Swindle. It’s a way of prizing out some ill-gotten gains from Russian oligarchs.

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I have always been into “pensioner chic”, I love my  brown slacks, sensible shoes and, my woolly cardi. If I wasn’t so modern as to buy all my food shopping online (a pre silversurfer?) I would leave Tesco pulling one of those bags on wheels with my leeks and cabbage sticking out the top. I’m looking forward to being a granddad, and with kids soon to move out of their teenage years it may not be that far off.

Spiritually therefore I’m certainly a baby boomer and as a designer can doubly see the challenges that this generation will be facing in the next 10 to 20 years as homes, poorly suited to adaptation, become prisons.

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So the government and the wider planning community have realised that our town and cities have become awash with apartments. With the FTSE 100 performing better than its done for 5 years, investors who have been piling their cash into apartments are returning to stocks and shares, and the “buy to leave empty” brigade have found new pastures in Estonia and the Baltic states. But  streets full of apartments with “To Let” and “For Sale” outside, and  fully sold apartment blocks with a hardly a light on in the apartments in the evening hadn’t  been enough to inform decision makers that our rush to follow the Urban Task Force mantra  to “live more densely like our European neighbours” hasn’t been a success. Its taken the housebuilders to moth ball their sites after even failing to attract “bulk buy” investors to buy unsold units at cost, to explain to planners that the industry needs to change its approach to the kind of properties being delivered. As long as we don’t allow them to deliver their standard soulless estates then we have to listen.

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A few weekends ago I had a bad day. As a Blackburn Rovers loving family we had driven down to Cardiff to watch them lose the FA Cup semi final against Arsenal. I don’t like driving at the best of time unless there are fantastic views and something good on the radio. This particular morose journey was made worse by a biased southern media on Radio 5 Live having an unfounded go at Rovers so called “bully boy” tactics and views of something that drives me to despair (despair is a destination that I often end up at when I drive), dozens of soulless new housing developments set in seas of black tarmac.

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