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Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Labour's fantasy town planning

The debts we owe to our Victorian forebears allow us to flush the toilet, bury our dead and enjoy the Sun in our local park. Yet these assets - the sewers, cemeteries and green spaces - will all have finite capacity. That Bazalgette's London main sewers, built in 1865, can still cope adequately with the waste of a massively increased 2007 population is a testament to the man's brilliance and foresight, not government planning.

News in the Telegraph today that old cemeteries are to be reused by stacking bodies double.

I've taken a look through Ruth Kelly's fantasy planning for the Thames Gateway. Words aplenty, written in that prozac-cheerful official optimism that blabs of new communities, hundreds of thousands of people living in hutches filled with last year's fashionable furniture.

But nowhere, absolutely nowhere, in the whole Thames Gateway plan is there a mention of a single cemetery. Anywhere. Perhaps in Labour's fantasy world people don't die; or perhaps they have plans for compulsory cremation. One isn't told.

Allotments, cemeteries and sewers are not sexy, but they are necessary. If this bankrupt government spent just five minutes less on inventing spin and looked out of their windows at the built environment created by their Victorian ancestors they'd do us all a service.

Light blogging this week for the usual boatish reason.


Ed said...

I am seriously worried that "planning" on such a large scale might result in Thamesmead on a huge scale. The planners then thought they had covered all bases but managed to build a town that nobody would choose to move to.

hatfield girl said...

The built environment not just created by the Victorians, but the 20th century planners and architects too; Milton Keynes is much enjoyed by its denizens, (I won't go on about the garden cities again).

The New Order seems to be imbued with a spirit of arrogant ignorance and refusal to acknowledge the achievements of other generations that the rest of the world comes to study. Wherever were they brought up, and by whom (or what)?

Anyway, it would be interesting and fruitful to review our funerary practices; we can't all be little pharaohs , and most accept cremation or prefer it. Better than being walled up as they do in Italy.

Raedwald said...

Ed & HG - couldn't agree more.

It is the arrogance of the worst of the 60s / 70s all over again; then it was central government giving bigger grants for tower blocks than for traditional homes, now it is a massive asset sell-off to house builders operating on gross margins of 15% - 20% and a weak local government sector with virtually no planning powers over large scale developments and insufficient expertise to negotiate effectively with developers.

My local councillor despairs; her planners tell her there is no point at all in refusing consent to large developers as they invariably win on appeal.

Thamesmead is a bleak place, isn't it? Appropriate that Kubrick's Clockwork Orange was filmed there. Utterly souless.

Roger Thornhill said...

If they want Thamesmead to expand, they shoudl build the infrastructure first and then sell off the land.

If they did not micromanage Healthcare and Education, then hospitals and schools would move in to servcie the new populations.

Yes, "last mile" water, power, drains and a good, reliable rail, tram and or trolleybus network should also be put in place. Only then should they auction off the land to whomsoever wants to build there (including individuals or small specs).

Anonymous said...

Lack of "planning" gave us the Royal Crescent in Bath, Edinburgh New Town, Chatsworth House, and oh, I don't know, maybe one or two other gems as well.

Planning gave us Cumbernauld and Harlow.

Further comment superfluous?