Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Privatising the scenery

You can't blame developers. Flogging the 'view' - something that doesn't belong to them - has always been a trick in their armoury to increase profit at little extra expense. So London's river is now lined on both banks with shoddy twelve-story blocks, almost identical, with galvanised balconettes, Ogee roofline and the universal use of coloured render stripes in blues and burnt orange. Immediately behind them are wide strips of undeveloped brownfield land. Dwellings built here won't have any view of course - it being blocked by the riverside apartments. You could easily fit half a million new dwellings on London's brownfield sites - but most of those left undeveloped suffer from not having a 'view', not being near the tube or DLR or having 'bad neighbour' development adjoining. So not attractive to housebuilders.

So of course the developers are looking at London's green belt; here there are free views a plenty. Well, at least until another speculative developer builds their estate over them. Short term profit, long term losses. Louis MacNeice's verse always come to mind
Splayed outwards through the suburbs houses, houses for rest
Seducingly rigged by the builder, half-timbered houses with lips pressed
So tightly and eyes staring at the traffic through bleary haws
And only a six-inch grip of the racing earth in their concrete claws;
In these houses men as in a dream pursue the Platonic Forms
With wireless and cairn terriers and gadgets approximating to the fickle norms
And endeavour to find God and score one over the neighbour
By climbing tentatively upward on jerry-built beauty and sweated labour.


Anonymous said...

Don't think much of the verse, it scans poorly.

High rise appartments down to Tilbury but they'd rather build them at Purley or Shiplake.

These new build flats, scar Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and are so ugly, though God forbid you purchased one to live in - and in good faith.
Surely, it must be a nightmare listening to the bedlam next door and in your corridors now.

I genuinely feel for you plight.

Blue Eyes said...

I like the modern riverside flats. I dislike that I cannot afford one. You are right about there being plenty of space for new housing though. Indeed Boris reckons that most of the shortage can be solved by developing a small number of major brownfield sites.

Weekend Yachtsman said...

"Short term profit, long term losses"

Profit for the developers, losses for the owners - after the next development takes away the view.

Martyn Kinsella-Jones said...

MacNiece was always a dead on the money poet.

James Higham said...

Flogging the 'view' - something that doesn't belong to them

Yep - it's moments like this - and they pass - one vaguely entertains socialism.

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