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Will Britain ever build beautiful? Northstowe is a monument to soulless developments

Northstowe: a vision unfulfilled, undesirable, unloved (Carl Court/Getty)

Northstowe: a vision unfulfilled, undesirable, unloved (Carl Court/Getty)


August 15, 2023   5 mins

On the eve of the 2008 financial crisis, in the last days of a monied Britain, Gordon Brown had a rare vision for the country. Amid the burgeoning housing crisis, 10 new eco-towns, a model of future sustainable living, would be built. It was a fit of idealistic planning not seen since the Second World War. “Northstowe”, located on the site of an immigration detention centre north of Cambridge, would be Britain’s largest new urban settlement since Milton Keynes.

In a local competition organised by the developers, schoolchildren presented contending utopias: green arches adorned with solar panels; a tram to ferry residents between parks and leisure centres. It got the adults talking, too. The town, it was proposed, would have its own community-based energy company. This would be an “innovation market town”, capable of sustaining local employment in an eco-idyll of tree-lined cycle lanes and allotments, a sustainable suburbia for 21st-century England.

Nearly 15 years on, the dream is dead. Visit Northstowe today and you are greeted by a Portakabin community centre that, as one local suggests, looks like a “pop-up STI clinic”. Bored children on bikes circle aimlessly, and a steady stream of cars forms an exodus from the leaden townscape of roofs and sky. There is, as one terminally bored 14-year-old tells me, “absolutely nothing to do”. No shops. No leisure centre. No green arches or trams. And certainly nothing that would give this place a collective hearth: a high street, town hall or a pub.

At the entrance to the town, I meet Richard of nearby Cambourne, who takes daily walks through Britain’s newest town to “try and work out what it all means”. Surveying the sprawl of identikit new-builds that stretch into the distance, he pronounces: “I have come to realise that this a soulless place built for a new generation of soulless people.”

Were it not for Michael Gove’s own fit of master-planning ambition, the absent soul of Northstowe might have gone further unexamined. Cambridge 2040 was announced at the end of July, a pipe dream of Scrutonian aesthetics and early 20th-century Californian boosterism. Gove envisaged an annexe of up to 250,000 “beautiful” houses around the nation’s most valuable innovation real estate.

Tied up in this lofty ambition is an urgent necessity. Cambridge is the dusted jewel in Global Britain’s future economic crown, its fastest-growing region held back from becoming a powerhouse by a shortage of lab space and housing. Yet Northstowe, a half-built eco-modernist outpost on the periphery of this vision, offers a foreshadowing of future problems for developing this area: water shortage, unsold housing, a failure to build at the pace and scale desired. Two decades on and Britain cannot even give birth to a modest new town, let alone a Victoriana Silicon Valley in the East Anglian Fens.

Housing will be one of the biggest issues of the 2024 election, a protracted British crisis now as old as the days when Brown first dreamt of Northstowe. And the proposed solutions are nearly as old. Building “beautiful” houses has been discussed in Tory circles for years, most prominently with 2019’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, which mouthed the rhetoric of a “conservative” built environment that has wafted around the party’s attendant think tanks for years. But talk aside, its achievements were minimal. And meanwhile, a donor-driven relationship with property developers (in 2021, a fifth of Tory donations came from the sector) has kept them in the driving seat, carpeting England with unimaginative, and all too often poorly built homes at a rate of about 200,000 a year. The few exceptions to the rule, such as the King’s Poundbury, have already become unaffordable, by virtue of their marked difference. Northstowe therefore stands as a monument to the new-build Britain we’re left with: a vision unfulfilled, undesirable, unloved.

Yet the facts of supply and demand are intractable. Whoever wins the next election will have to build, both to accommodate the record numbers living with their parents and new arrivals to the country over the coming decades (new immigrants are expected to form 57% of new households in the next 20 years). Keir Starmer has not ruled out building on the Green Belt, and has unveiled plans to allow local authorities to buy land cheaply for development to “tilt the balance of power” away from landowners. Sunak, meanwhile, has already been urged to consider a generation of new towns in the upcoming Tory manifesto. New developments on the scale of Northstowe therefore seem inevitable. But the question remains of what we build.

You would hope, then, that Northstowe would be a compulsory stop on the 2024 election circus. A warning for new-build Britain, the poorly conceived and ill-executed end product of what a housing arms race might plaster across England. Does either party have the political will or skill to stop this happening?

Something of an answer lies in the last time the country was forced to build at scale. The post-war building boom was unprecedented in Europe, creating 22 new towns that became home to 2.7 million people. Northstowe’s predecessor, Milton Keynes, now feels like an infrastructural marvel from a more confident age, the post-war equivalent of the Victorians’ Crystal Palace. It was conceived in 1967, progressing (unlike Northstowe) through the austerity of the Seventies to offer its new population an idiosyncratically English hodgepodge of the garden city movement and the car-friendly suburban utopias of Fifties America. Its legacy has always attracted a seam of snobbery: a “bland kitsch, Thatcherite reality”, wrote the architecture critic Owen Hatherley, “the non-place it was planned to be”. Despite this, Milton Keynes grew and grew, and has become one of Britain’s most economically successful cities. Now, by way of grim irony in 2023, both the scale of its conception and the pace of its execution seem a much needed luxury.

No surprise, then, that the Milton Keynes “development corporation” model has been invoked by both parties in their attempts to confront housing, the Tories in 2018 and Labour earlier this year. But such a model demands a vision beyond mere house numbers. And this is what haunts Northstowe. Unlike Milton Keynes, the fact that it is “driven by developers”, as one councillor told me, has left it open to the vagaries of Britain’s long-term economic malaise. The pandemic has been widely blamed by developers for slow operation, but this didn’t prevent Savills gushing in November 2021 that the site of a town centre represented a “significant milestone”. But two years on and there is still nothing that might offer a sense of place or identity. A tangle of contracts and obligations compels developers to wait for houses to sell before delivering on promised infrastructure and facilities in stages (dependent itself on “market conditions”). Let them come, then build it, is the future of Northstowe.

Amid the Yimby call for housing at any cost, this model poses a warning, accentuated by the proximity and symbolic contrast between Cambridge and Northstowe. The former, a city trying to escape stagnant Britain via an Anglo-futurist mix of historical prestige, accelerated building and scientific innovation. The other: already more of a relic than Cambridge’s honey-gothic landmarks, tethered both spiritually and contractually to a decade of economic stagnation and political amnesia. A visionary piece of planning that has turned into a housing estate without a pulse or purpose.

There are faint idols to its old conception of an “eco-town” in its fledgling trees, sparse allotments and bike lanes to nowhere. But half-built sustainable suburbia places its residents, and the surrounding area, in new-build purgatory. House prices still demand around £150,000 above the national average, deterring the mass influx of future arrivals needed to complete the town in haste. While its present residents wait, the lack of infrastructure has pushed them into nearby communities, enraging locals and only mobilising them against future developments around Cambridge. To solve the housing crisis, we don’t just need more houses, but new places where people want to live.

I get lost as I try to leave, and spend an hour frustratedly wandering around this surreal array of building sites and newly christened homes. “What god cannot do does not exist,” reads a sticker plastered on one front door. Electric cars buzz by like bloated, dull insects. Here is Britain’s most recent lunge into the decade of change and construction ahead: and it’s a purgatory between the built and unbuilt, the desired and the unsatisfied. Northstowe has inadvertently been burdened with all the disappointment of a country that has failed to plan for its future. But it will endure as a symbol, a visual reminder of our politics’s failure to execute any sort of aesthetic or functional vision for Britain.


Fred Skulthorp is a writer living in England. His Substack is Bad Apocalypse 

Skulthorp

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Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago

No solution or reference to the spiritual malaise that has gripped all areas of government. The lack of pubs or even mention of churches/sports grounds points to this fundamental disconnect between the government’s priorities (volume) and those of the people (desirability). There are similar problems where I live, new estates where they are only near enough to town for the young (though not children) and fit and no local shops. There is nothing to do nearby (farms on one side, the old edge of town on the other) and people wonder why their kids are whiling their lives away with drink and drugs and hang about on the pristine street corners. Soulless homes for soulless people sums it up perfectly.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Precisely. They are building hutches, not homes; camps of dormitories, not functioning towns. As you note, they lack public space, religious monuments, ancient or meaningful customs and any place of entertainment. This is the grisly, usual endpoint of the totalitarian plan; this the result of its contempt for the mysterious inspirited animal that humanity actually is – the grid, the template, the framework: death.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The problem is not a “totalitarian plan” quite obviously – that is quite ridiculous. It is the triumph of short term thinking and economics, plus the influence of a powerful donor lobby, that are such weaknesses in modern Britain. Milton Keynes, you might argue, was more of a plan, one that was significantly realised (public transport not so good) and remains popular today, despite the snobbery (another British vice!) usually directed to it.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

You haven’t answered a single one of the substantive points, have you? Just offered the flaccid rhetoric of the oh-so-reasonable centre in the service of the madly unreasonable left. Just to drop it on your plate with a clang – so that others may see your modus operandi for what it is – immigration on the scale of the last twenty years could not possibly result in housing – had it kept pace – that was anything other than mass produced, meaning hutch like and soulless. Got that? In the face of this gaping wound you and others like you prattle in the manner of a medieval doctor confronted with an advanced cancer. It is utterly pathetic. Either address the issue or don’t bother to contribute at all.

Last edited 10 months ago by Simon Denis
Rob J
Rob J
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Classic Types of Unherd Comment, #27: ones that begin by accusing someone else of ‘rhetoric’ and then unload a barrowful of rhetoric and polemic themselves.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob J

And yours? A little sneer? How does that help? And, of course, from the Mount Everest of your self esteem you have failed to notice – like your friend – the substantive point: mass immigration requires cheap, mass housing, ergo ugly housing. Classic Type of Leftist Comment number 1: pompous assumption of judgemental superiority whilst committing the very offense to which it objects.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob J

And yours? A little sneer? How does that help? And, of course, from the Mount Everest of your self esteem you have failed to notice – like your friend – the substantive point: mass immigration requires cheap, mass housing, ergo ugly housing. Classic Type of Leftist Comment number 1: pompous assumption of judgemental superiority whilst committing the very offense to which it objects.

Rob J
Rob J
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Classic Types of Unherd Comment, #27: ones that begin by accusing someone else of ‘rhetoric’ and then unload a barrowful of rhetoric and polemic themselves.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

You haven’t answered a single one of the substantive points, have you? Just offered the flaccid rhetoric of the oh-so-reasonable centre in the service of the madly unreasonable left. Just to drop it on your plate with a clang – so that others may see your modus operandi for what it is – immigration on the scale of the last twenty years could not possibly result in housing – had it kept pace – that was anything other than mass produced, meaning hutch like and soulless. Got that? In the face of this gaping wound you and others like you prattle in the manner of a medieval doctor confronted with an advanced cancer. It is utterly pathetic. Either address the issue or don’t bother to contribute at all.

Last edited 10 months ago by Simon Denis
Rob J
Rob J
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Blimey.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob J

The most intelligent of your several remarks.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob J

The most intelligent of your several remarks.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

The problem is not a “totalitarian plan” quite obviously – that is quite ridiculous. It is the triumph of short term thinking and economics, plus the influence of a powerful donor lobby, that are such weaknesses in modern Britain. Milton Keynes, you might argue, was more of a plan, one that was significantly realised (public transport not so good) and remains popular today, despite the snobbery (another British vice!) usually directed to it.

Rob J
Rob J
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Blimey.

glyn harries
glyn harries
10 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

this is neo-Liberal capitalism.

P N
P N
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

What on earth are you on about? Capitalism demands that people want what they buy. This is obviously not the case. Your comment just sounds like a lefty shout using buzzwords you don’t understand. You don’t even know what you hate.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Neo-illiberal social dictatorship, more like it.

P N
P N
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

What on earth are you on about? Capitalism demands that people want what they buy. This is obviously not the case. Your comment just sounds like a lefty shout using buzzwords you don’t understand. You don’t even know what you hate.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Neo-illiberal social dictatorship, more like it.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
10 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

As someone who does live in a new estate I broadly agree. There are children’s playgrounds in fairness and a school more or less on the estate so it’s good for families in that sense. However, yes, there are no other communal facilities and even getting access to the centre of town is hard if you don’t want to drive. It is getting there though, we do have an entertainment park featuring cinema, bowling, mini golf, restaurants etc that is being built right next to us so there will be something for people to do. Appreciate many estates don’t have this though.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

Precisely. They are building hutches, not homes; camps of dormitories, not functioning towns. As you note, they lack public space, religious monuments, ancient or meaningful customs and any place of entertainment. This is the grisly, usual endpoint of the totalitarian plan; this the result of its contempt for the mysterious inspirited animal that humanity actually is – the grid, the template, the framework: death.

glyn harries
glyn harries
10 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

this is neo-Liberal capitalism.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
10 months ago
Reply to  Milton Gibbon

As someone who does live in a new estate I broadly agree. There are children’s playgrounds in fairness and a school more or less on the estate so it’s good for families in that sense. However, yes, there are no other communal facilities and even getting access to the centre of town is hard if you don’t want to drive. It is getting there though, we do have an entertainment park featuring cinema, bowling, mini golf, restaurants etc that is being built right next to us so there will be something for people to do. Appreciate many estates don’t have this though.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago

No solution or reference to the spiritual malaise that has gripped all areas of government. The lack of pubs or even mention of churches/sports grounds points to this fundamental disconnect between the government’s priorities (volume) and those of the people (desirability). There are similar problems where I live, new estates where they are only near enough to town for the young (though not children) and fit and no local shops. There is nothing to do nearby (farms on one side, the old edge of town on the other) and people wonder why their kids are whiling their lives away with drink and drugs and hang about on the pristine street corners. Soulless homes for soulless people sums it up perfectly.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

Of course Britain won’t “build beautiful”. Did you seriously expect that it would? Beauty in building requires craft, skill, patience, time and money, not to mention tradition, custom and a popular aesthetic – and of all such things we are in the very shortest supply. Meanwhile, thanks to an artificially expanding population, we need housing fast. Result? Hutches, millions of them, brutally tacked on to old places which – outnumbered and demoralised – will lose their nature as village or market town or ancient borough and become part of the dystopian mega-city which the left wishes to make of the entire western world. To take seriously for one moment that in the Britain of today, faced with migration at its current highs and under the control of our freakish left establishment we might build with consideration or care is to fall at the first fence; it is to “play the game”; it is to be a dupe. Britain, like so much of our ancient European home, is going to be obliterated, beneath tides of hostile migration and a second tide of concrete, to keep it all in place. This is the future the all powerful left has decreed for us; this is the march down the Champs Elysees of our modern totalitarians. You would seem to be the man in the cafe determinedly reading his classic novel or looking the other way.

glyn harries
glyn harries
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Do you really believe that the UK is “under the control of our freakish left establishment”? Insane. Since 1979 the UK has been firmly in the hands of Neo-Liberalism, or indeed since 1978 when the IMF forcedd Callaghans hand. The Left control nothing. This article describes perfectly the problem with allowing the developers to control housing. No facilities and cheap and nasty housing. This is literally capitalism, which is not ‘Left’!

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Bilge. The left controls everything – every museum, school, department of state and the corporate world through HR departments and agencies such as “Stonewall”, all reliant on rafts of Blairite legislation designed to enable exactly this takeover. Who do think you are kidding with your pathetic reference to “neo-liberalism”? Tax at a seventy year high? Immigration at unprecedented levels? Academics – e.g Dr Stock of this parish – sacked for not toeing the toe-rag left’s party lines? School teaching “climate change” and sacking pupils who query the existence of a thousand genders? You are clearly among those hard leftists trying to gaslight the rest of us with flat, brass-necked denials of your own agenda. Hawk such rubbish elsewhere. Few will bother with it round here.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Well said.

Rob J
Rob J
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Still going! We’ve now reached the stage where it doesn’t matter what the original article was about; we’re just repeating a well-rehearsed list of the various things that get us so angry that they must be to blame for EVERYTHING.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rob J
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob J

Why don’t you supply an original response to the article itself instead of pontificating – several contributions down the line – about the exchanges of others? Or is such a thing beyond you? I suspect it is.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob J

Why don’t you supply an original response to the article itself instead of pontificating – several contributions down the line – about the exchanges of others? Or is such a thing beyond you? I suspect it is.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Well said.

Rob J
Rob J
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Still going! We’ve now reached the stage where it doesn’t matter what the original article was about; we’re just repeating a well-rehearsed list of the various things that get us so angry that they must be to blame for EVERYTHING.

Last edited 10 months ago by Rob J
Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

The Right’s greatest self-awarded privilege is being able to blame the Left for absolutely everything, whether they’re in power or not. I’m surprised we haven’t seen the word Marxist tossed around a bit more.

P N
P N
10 months ago

The Left’s greatest self-awarded privilege is being able to blame the Right for absolutely everything, whether they’re in power or not. I’m surprised we haven’t seen the word capitalist or neo-liberals tossed around a bit more… oh wait.
All too often we see policy failure being erroneously blamed on market failure.

Last edited 10 months ago by P N
Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
10 months ago

Because the Left is to blame—let’s pick a figure, 95%? The Left destroys whatever it puts its dirty little hands on. And yes, it started with Marx.

Last edited 10 months ago by Betsy Arehart
P N
P N
10 months ago

The Left’s greatest self-awarded privilege is being able to blame the Right for absolutely everything, whether they’re in power or not. I’m surprised we haven’t seen the word capitalist or neo-liberals tossed around a bit more… oh wait.
All too often we see policy failure being erroneously blamed on market failure.

Last edited 10 months ago by P N
Betsy Arehart
Betsy Arehart
10 months ago

Because the Left is to blame—let’s pick a figure, 95%? The Left destroys whatever it puts its dirty little hands on. And yes, it started with Marx.

Last edited 10 months ago by Betsy Arehart
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

Bilge. The left controls everything – every museum, school, department of state and the corporate world through HR departments and agencies such as “Stonewall”, all reliant on rafts of Blairite legislation designed to enable exactly this takeover. Who do think you are kidding with your pathetic reference to “neo-liberalism”? Tax at a seventy year high? Immigration at unprecedented levels? Academics – e.g Dr Stock of this parish – sacked for not toeing the toe-rag left’s party lines? School teaching “climate change” and sacking pupils who query the existence of a thousand genders? You are clearly among those hard leftists trying to gaslight the rest of us with flat, brass-necked denials of your own agenda. Hawk such rubbish elsewhere. Few will bother with it round here.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

The Right’s greatest self-awarded privilege is being able to blame the Left for absolutely everything, whether they’re in power or not. I’m surprised we haven’t seen the word Marxist tossed around a bit more.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Please stop this utterly ridiculous use of the word “totalitarian”.You wouldn’t be writing this if we lived in anything resembling a totalitarian state.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Nonsense. Totalitarianism like any breed of political thinking adapts in order to survive. Having seen the failure of the “hard” and “immediate” varieties of the form, its votaries now use technology to pursue the same oppressive ends more gradually. This means that relatively niche threads like these are broadly ignored.
Were more people to read them, however; were the ideas aired to gain more open purchase or traction among the general public, there would most likely be moves to shut people up – again, not by means of the thump on the door at three am, but by leaning on the editors by means of some rule or regulation or – witness the current travails of GB News.
And then there are the large numbers of people sacked from their work for voicing such views or even for not wishing to voice the views of the other side.
Not totalitarian? I can only presume you agree with so much of the agenda being enforced in this way that you can’t bear to query the means.
And this is not to say that the totalitarian impulse, sliding insidiously into place over the last thirty years like the coils of a constrictor, will not take “hardened” form in the near future. We now face a politicised civil service and an indoctrinated police force – heard about the autistic girl dragged around for mentioning an officer’s sexuality, did you? No? I’m not surprised. Meanwhile, the army is systematically taught to suspect persons who openly discuss “the left” in general terms.
And then there’s de-banking. Your blinkers must be made of steel supported on a leftist’s typically brass neck if you can – as you do – ignore that one.
Who on earth do you imagine you are kidding with your either naive or positively disingenuous professions of fake scepticism?

Last edited 10 months ago by Simon Denis
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

You see? I query your query and my words have been memory holed. What better illustration of my point? Hmm?

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

They are back again, now. A small victory for freedom of speech – the flame of a candle in a darkening landscape.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

They are back again, now. A small victory for freedom of speech – the flame of a candle in a darkening landscape.

P N
P N
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

“All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” – B Mussolini
That just about sums up many people’s attitude, even belief, today. It’s not nonsense at all to use the word “totalitarian”. So many look first to the state and central government to solve their problems. Liz Truss tried to row back and advance individualism with some minor tax cuts and look how the establishment and the MSM reacted.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Nonsense. Totalitarianism like any breed of political thinking adapts in order to survive. Having seen the failure of the “hard” and “immediate” varieties of the form, its votaries now use technology to pursue the same oppressive ends more gradually. This means that relatively niche threads like these are broadly ignored.
Were more people to read them, however; were the ideas aired to gain more open purchase or traction among the general public, there would most likely be moves to shut people up – again, not by means of the thump on the door at three am, but by leaning on the editors by means of some rule or regulation or – witness the current travails of GB News.
And then there are the large numbers of people sacked from their work for voicing such views or even for not wishing to voice the views of the other side.
Not totalitarian? I can only presume you agree with so much of the agenda being enforced in this way that you can’t bear to query the means.
And this is not to say that the totalitarian impulse, sliding insidiously into place over the last thirty years like the coils of a constrictor, will not take “hardened” form in the near future. We now face a politicised civil service and an indoctrinated police force – heard about the autistic girl dragged around for mentioning an officer’s sexuality, did you? No? I’m not surprised. Meanwhile, the army is systematically taught to suspect persons who openly discuss “the left” in general terms.
And then there’s de-banking. Your blinkers must be made of steel supported on a leftist’s typically brass neck if you can – as you do – ignore that one.
Who on earth do you imagine you are kidding with your either naive or positively disingenuous professions of fake scepticism?

Last edited 10 months ago by Simon Denis
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

You see? I query your query and my words have been memory holed. What better illustration of my point? Hmm?

P N
P N
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

“All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” – B Mussolini
That just about sums up many people’s attitude, even belief, today. It’s not nonsense at all to use the word “totalitarian”. So many look first to the state and central government to solve their problems. Liz Truss tried to row back and advance individualism with some minor tax cuts and look how the establishment and the MSM reacted.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

So true! Go anywhere in Europe and it’s the same situation; Ignorant, uneducated, ‘freakish’ socialist do-gooders with no social conscience calling all important shots.

glyn harries
glyn harries
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Do you really believe that the UK is “under the control of our freakish left establishment”? Insane. Since 1979 the UK has been firmly in the hands of Neo-Liberalism, or indeed since 1978 when the IMF forcedd Callaghans hand. The Left control nothing. This article describes perfectly the problem with allowing the developers to control housing. No facilities and cheap and nasty housing. This is literally capitalism, which is not ‘Left’!

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Please stop this utterly ridiculous use of the word “totalitarian”.You wouldn’t be writing this if we lived in anything resembling a totalitarian state.

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

So true! Go anywhere in Europe and it’s the same situation; Ignorant, uneducated, ‘freakish’ socialist do-gooders with no social conscience calling all important shots.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

Of course Britain won’t “build beautiful”. Did you seriously expect that it would? Beauty in building requires craft, skill, patience, time and money, not to mention tradition, custom and a popular aesthetic – and of all such things we are in the very shortest supply. Meanwhile, thanks to an artificially expanding population, we need housing fast. Result? Hutches, millions of them, brutally tacked on to old places which – outnumbered and demoralised – will lose their nature as village or market town or ancient borough and become part of the dystopian mega-city which the left wishes to make of the entire western world. To take seriously for one moment that in the Britain of today, faced with migration at its current highs and under the control of our freakish left establishment we might build with consideration or care is to fall at the first fence; it is to “play the game”; it is to be a dupe. Britain, like so much of our ancient European home, is going to be obliterated, beneath tides of hostile migration and a second tide of concrete, to keep it all in place. This is the future the all powerful left has decreed for us; this is the march down the Champs Elysees of our modern totalitarians. You would seem to be the man in the cafe determinedly reading his classic novel or looking the other way.

Waffles
Waffles
10 months ago

We need to build up, not out. There just isn’t enough room for everyone to have a detached house and garage. Other countries build luxury condos with gyms, shops and swimming pools. We build shoddy flats where the pee filled lifts don’t work.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
10 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

Spot on. That is the choice. Perhaps the numerous blocs of flats built be private companies in the last fifteen years in London and Manchester will do better than the shoddy blocs erected by councils in the 1960s. If Manhattan and Hong Kong can “build up” satisfactorily then there is no fundamental reason we should not be able to do so.

Matt M
Matt M
10 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

British people want to live in houses with front and back gardens, preferably with a drive and a garage. There are many blocks of luxury flats in Britain: people that can afford either a house or a flat always choose the house.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
10 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

In our inner towns and cities we definitely should.

Alex Carnegie
Alex Carnegie
10 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

Spot on. That is the choice. Perhaps the numerous blocs of flats built be private companies in the last fifteen years in London and Manchester will do better than the shoddy blocs erected by councils in the 1960s. If Manhattan and Hong Kong can “build up” satisfactorily then there is no fundamental reason we should not be able to do so.

Matt M
Matt M
10 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

British people want to live in houses with front and back gardens, preferably with a drive and a garage. There are many blocks of luxury flats in Britain: people that can afford either a house or a flat always choose the house.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
10 months ago
Reply to  Waffles

In our inner towns and cities we definitely should.

Waffles
Waffles
10 months ago

We need to build up, not out. There just isn’t enough room for everyone to have a detached house and garage. Other countries build luxury condos with gyms, shops and swimming pools. We build shoddy flats where the pee filled lifts don’t work.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
10 months ago

Everyone needs to read Jane Jacob’s “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, widely regarded as accepted wisdom by the end of the 60s. Neighborhoods people love and call home are built or reordered by the people themselves, not by big developers or central planners. Get the hell out of the way and let individuals figure out what they want.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

I’ve read Jane Jacobs. But the old style city was based largely on walking, cycling and public transport, with lots of street activity and informal monitoring of what was going on. You’d struggle to find that in most places today.People often want contradictory things, thriving high streets plus the low prices of internet shopping; use of their cars to get to those nice country pubs plus facilities on their doorstep. Just look at American and Australian suburbs; at least in Britain it is usually possible to walk. And of course individual people generally can’t initiate major town development; we need some sort of planning.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Well said. Planning could be handled by local councils it is just that in most areas NIMBYs stop this from happening. I do not use the acronym disparagingly, it is just a fact.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Well said. Planning could be handled by local councils it is just that in most areas NIMBYs stop this from happening. I do not use the acronym disparagingly, it is just a fact.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Thor Albro

I’ve read Jane Jacobs. But the old style city was based largely on walking, cycling and public transport, with lots of street activity and informal monitoring of what was going on. You’d struggle to find that in most places today.People often want contradictory things, thriving high streets plus the low prices of internet shopping; use of their cars to get to those nice country pubs plus facilities on their doorstep. Just look at American and Australian suburbs; at least in Britain it is usually possible to walk. And of course individual people generally can’t initiate major town development; we need some sort of planning.

Thor Albro
Thor Albro
10 months ago

Everyone needs to read Jane Jacob’s “The Death and Life of Great American Cities”, widely regarded as accepted wisdom by the end of the 60s. Neighborhoods people love and call home are built or reordered by the people themselves, not by big developers or central planners. Get the hell out of the way and let individuals figure out what they want.

David Forrester
David Forrester
10 months ago

After reading this I decided to take a look at Northstowe on Google Street View and its worse than I thought. I had not heard of the place until the articles written about it a few days ago.
I visited Cambourne a few years back it’s another odd place (someone somewhere said it’s not on the Cam and Bourn is spelt without an e) there is a kind of high street but its dominated by a large supermarket right in the centre. There is one modern looking church which is multi domination. Handy but doesn’t have the same feel of a town having multiple churches built in different time periods showing differing taste in style etc. There is a pub next to the supermarket no idea how well it does with cheaper alcohol being sold next door. I believe the sports centre has no swimming pool which seems a really odd decision but sounds like cost cutting to get it built on time and under cost.
The build beautiful buildings report sadly languishes ignored on a shelf which is a great shame because going around the country it is always a pleasure to know you have changed counties just by looking at the buildings around you. Lincolnshire whitish/yellow stone with red roofs, Greater Manchester/Lancashire/Merseyside red brick public buildings, Hertfordshire and Essex Elm barns with red roofs. It’s a great shame no one appears to want to preserve this aesthetic or a vision of a functional Britain.

David Forrester
David Forrester
10 months ago

After reading this I decided to take a look at Northstowe on Google Street View and its worse than I thought. I had not heard of the place until the articles written about it a few days ago.
I visited Cambourne a few years back it’s another odd place (someone somewhere said it’s not on the Cam and Bourn is spelt without an e) there is a kind of high street but its dominated by a large supermarket right in the centre. There is one modern looking church which is multi domination. Handy but doesn’t have the same feel of a town having multiple churches built in different time periods showing differing taste in style etc. There is a pub next to the supermarket no idea how well it does with cheaper alcohol being sold next door. I believe the sports centre has no swimming pool which seems a really odd decision but sounds like cost cutting to get it built on time and under cost.
The build beautiful buildings report sadly languishes ignored on a shelf which is a great shame because going around the country it is always a pleasure to know you have changed counties just by looking at the buildings around you. Lincolnshire whitish/yellow stone with red roofs, Greater Manchester/Lancashire/Merseyside red brick public buildings, Hertfordshire and Essex Elm barns with red roofs. It’s a great shame no one appears to want to preserve this aesthetic or a vision of a functional Britain.

Adam M
Adam M
10 months ago

Despite what the author may try to argue. Me and the vast majority of those I’ve questioned on the subject agree that Milton Keynes is a disaster of a settlement, devoid beauty or any uniquely positive features. It’s not a place anyone would travel to for its own sake. I don’t doubt it’s economically successful but that’s besides the point!
It’s not necessarily the fault of urban planners that new build towns never ‘feel quite right’ (though there are defiantly better and worse ways to construct them). But the fact is, good towns and cities are generally not planned or designed. They grow naturally and slowly over decades and centuries like trees. With new structures and roads/paths constructed piecemeal.
I know in many countries, most settlements have been constructed recently and hastily to keep up with the demands of rapidly growing populations. We’re uniquely blessed in Britain with many old and very beautiful town and cities. Which makes the contrast a lot more stark when the sudden growth of the population in recent times has forced us to build so many new settlements.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

I too like cities that grow organically, but Paris, Amsterdam and Copenhagen didn’t suffer too much from being planned.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Paris is not exactly the model i would be using. Horrible town planning with “the rich” in town and everyone else living in banlieues which are forgotten about. I think organic growth (Tower Hamlets being the poster-child with rich and poor living within a stones throw of each other) is much better. In Copenhagen there just doesn’t seem to be much deprivation at all.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
10 months ago
Reply to  Mark Goodhand

Paris is not exactly the model i would be using. Horrible town planning with “the rich” in town and everyone else living in banlieues which are forgotten about. I think organic growth (Tower Hamlets being the poster-child with rich and poor living within a stones throw of each other) is much better. In Copenhagen there just doesn’t seem to be much deprivation at all.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

The people of Milton Keynes like living there on the whole. How on Earth is it “irrelevant” that it is economically successful? An extraordinary comment – try looking at economically failing towns. As usual the British disease of outright snobbery is on display. Not every place has to function as a tourist attraction!

And you obviously haven’t travelled much to France, Italy or Spain if you consider Britain is “uniquely blessed” with historic towns. It isn’t, though there is a good argument we often do significantly despoil those we have, for example by building ugly multi-story car parks.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Easier to reply to those points than any which query the heart of your outlook, isn’t it?

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Fisher

Easier to reply to those points than any which query the heart of your outlook, isn’t it?

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

Not every town and city needs to be somewhere you visit for the hell of it. I am content that I will never set foot in a good many places in this country touristy or otherwise. These places primarily need to be somewhere for people to live so that means jobs, places to shop and be entertained plus decent infrastructure so they can go to and from other places as they please.

Mark Goodhand
Mark Goodhand
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

I too like cities that grow organically, but Paris, Amsterdam and Copenhagen didn’t suffer too much from being planned.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

The people of Milton Keynes like living there on the whole. How on Earth is it “irrelevant” that it is economically successful? An extraordinary comment – try looking at economically failing towns. As usual the British disease of outright snobbery is on display. Not every place has to function as a tourist attraction!

And you obviously haven’t travelled much to France, Italy or Spain if you consider Britain is “uniquely blessed” with historic towns. It isn’t, though there is a good argument we often do significantly despoil those we have, for example by building ugly multi-story car parks.

John Dellingby
John Dellingby
10 months ago
Reply to  Adam M

Not every town and city needs to be somewhere you visit for the hell of it. I am content that I will never set foot in a good many places in this country touristy or otherwise. These places primarily need to be somewhere for people to live so that means jobs, places to shop and be entertained plus decent infrastructure so they can go to and from other places as they please.

Adam M
Adam M
10 months ago

Despite what the author may try to argue. Me and the vast majority of those I’ve questioned on the subject agree that Milton Keynes is a disaster of a settlement, devoid beauty or any uniquely positive features. It’s not a place anyone would travel to for its own sake. I don’t doubt it’s economically successful but that’s besides the point!
It’s not necessarily the fault of urban planners that new build towns never ‘feel quite right’ (though there are defiantly better and worse ways to construct them). But the fact is, good towns and cities are generally not planned or designed. They grow naturally and slowly over decades and centuries like trees. With new structures and roads/paths constructed piecemeal.
I know in many countries, most settlements have been constructed recently and hastily to keep up with the demands of rapidly growing populations. We’re uniquely blessed in Britain with many old and very beautiful town and cities. Which makes the contrast a lot more stark when the sudden growth of the population in recent times has forced us to build so many new settlements.

Michael Gibson
Michael Gibson
10 months ago

Such a good article! Britain is blessed with some very talented architects, yet ‘house builders’ always seem to go for the safe, cheap option, using off the shelf designs, houses they themselves would never live in. The popularity of programmes like Grand Designs show that people aspire for more than a box next to another box…

Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael Gibson

Would many people be able to afford the well built houses you have in mind?

Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael Gibson

Would many people be able to afford the well built houses you have in mind?

Michael Gibson
Michael Gibson
10 months ago

Such a good article! Britain is blessed with some very talented architects, yet ‘house builders’ always seem to go for the safe, cheap option, using off the shelf designs, houses they themselves would never live in. The popularity of programmes like Grand Designs show that people aspire for more than a box next to another box…

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago

They say a person’s appearance reflects their inner self.
You could imagine these ugly monstrosities, just like the hideous Soviet era buildings, simply reflect the character of the respective ruling/ elite classes.

Samir Iker
Samir Iker
10 months ago

They say a person’s appearance reflects their inner self.
You could imagine these ugly monstrosities, just like the hideous Soviet era buildings, simply reflect the character of the respective ruling/ elite classes.

glyn harries
glyn harries
10 months ago

“driven by developers”. that’s the issue, that’s the problem. capitulation to the market. the sucessful New Towns were delivered by state corporations who did build the pubs, schools and shops.

Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

How? You either build nice housing no one can afford or you build not-so-nice housing.

Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago
Reply to  glyn harries

How? You either build nice housing no one can afford or you build not-so-nice housing.

glyn harries
glyn harries
10 months ago

“driven by developers”. that’s the issue, that’s the problem. capitulation to the market. the sucessful New Towns were delivered by state corporations who did build the pubs, schools and shops.

David Harris
David Harris
10 months ago

All 14 year olds are “terminally bored” complaining of “absolutely nothing to do”.

David Harris
David Harris
10 months ago

All 14 year olds are “terminally bored” complaining of “absolutely nothing to do”.

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
10 months ago

The problem is the general deference to profit by govts afraid to lead (for fear of being labelled socialist), which leads to a general deference to property developers – and their priority is to squeeze in as many saleable units as possible, and to hell with anything resembling infrastructure, either services or social.

Guy Pigache
Guy Pigache
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Much of the dreadful building of the 1950’s through 70’s was council built, owned and managed.

Last edited 10 months ago by Guy Pigache
Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Has any government, anywhere, ever built nice residences for its citizens?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

Ancient Rome.
Ostia, Timgad, Lepcis Magna, Pompeii, Aphrodisias, and so on and on.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Rob C

Ancient Rome.
Ostia, Timgad, Lepcis Magna, Pompeii, Aphrodisias, and so on and on.

Guy Pigache
Guy Pigache
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Much of the dreadful building of the 1950’s through 70’s was council built, owned and managed.

Last edited 10 months ago by Guy Pigache
Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago
Reply to  Frank McCusker

Has any government, anywhere, ever built nice residences for its citizens?

Frank McCusker
Frank McCusker
10 months ago

The problem is the general deference to profit by govts afraid to lead (for fear of being labelled socialist), which leads to a general deference to property developers – and their priority is to squeeze in as many saleable units as possible, and to hell with anything resembling infrastructure, either services or social.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
10 months ago

I just refer to the zombie fringes of Cambridge by their true name; ‘Dandenong North’.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dumetrius
Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Even that’s better than “Northstowe”, a deadening placename.

Steve Murray
Steve Murray
10 months ago
Reply to  Dumetrius

Even that’s better than “Northstowe”, a deadening placename.

Dumetrius
Dumetrius
10 months ago

I just refer to the zombie fringes of Cambridge by their true name; ‘Dandenong North’.

Last edited 10 months ago by Dumetrius
Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

In the year of our Lord 1535, England possessed a magnificent collection of 60 Great Churches*.

Today only 23 remain, and the Philistines reign supreme.

(* Cathedrals, Abbeys, Priories, and Collegiate Churches of a length of approximately 300 feet or more.)

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

Well said. Britain – for Scotland had great abbeys, too – was repulsively denuded of centuries of art and architecture thanks to a hideous alliance of peculators, fanatics and cynics who brought about a process best described as “Deformation”. Alas, the same malignant triad appears to be in charge today.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Scotland was as bad if not worse, in that it destroyed most of its Cathedrals as well.
Much the same vandalism also occurred in both Ireland and Wales.
All in all ‘we’ are very much the poorer for it.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Scotland was as bad if not worse, in that it destroyed most of its Cathedrals as well.
Much the same vandalism also occurred in both Ireland and Wales.
All in all ‘we’ are very much the poorer for it.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
10 months ago

Well said. Britain – for Scotland had great abbeys, too – was repulsively denuded of centuries of art and architecture thanks to a hideous alliance of peculators, fanatics and cynics who brought about a process best described as “Deformation”. Alas, the same malignant triad appears to be in charge today.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
10 months ago

In the year of our Lord 1535, England possessed a magnificent collection of 60 Great Churches*.

Today only 23 remain, and the Philistines reign supreme.

(* Cathedrals, Abbeys, Priories, and Collegiate Churches of a length of approximately 300 feet or more.)

Last edited 10 months ago by Charles Stanhope
James Kirk
James Kirk
10 months ago

Little boxes was a song 50 years ago. Why does modern housing have to be so rectangular? And the same height? Laid out like a child’s town on a bedroom carpet? There’s an article in the Spectator belittling Greggs and Wetherspoons. Given short shrift BTL I might add. People in Northstowe denied the opportunity to turn their noses up at them? As the car is being discouraged, seems odd to make it a necessity.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
10 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

Those houses have the right shape, but somehow don’t ‘look’ like houses should. The roofs are very steep and out of proportion to the rest of the house. Did the builder use Monopoly houses as a template?
And what are the small buildings behind each house? Some kind of shed/outhouse? Again, they don’t look right and seem to dominate what could be a much larger garden.

Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
10 months ago
Reply to  James Kirk

Those houses have the right shape, but somehow don’t ‘look’ like houses should. The roofs are very steep and out of proportion to the rest of the house. Did the builder use Monopoly houses as a template?
And what are the small buildings behind each house? Some kind of shed/outhouse? Again, they don’t look right and seem to dominate what could be a much larger garden.

James Kirk
James Kirk
10 months ago

Little boxes was a song 50 years ago. Why does modern housing have to be so rectangular? And the same height? Laid out like a child’s town on a bedroom carpet? There’s an article in the Spectator belittling Greggs and Wetherspoons. Given short shrift BTL I might add. People in Northstowe denied the opportunity to turn their noses up at them? As the car is being discouraged, seems odd to make it a necessity.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
9 months ago

Is anyone surprised? Selling off school playing fields and then wondering why people are obese was just the start. Building towns without recreational outlets is just the logical conclusion.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
9 months ago

Is anyone surprised? Selling off school playing fields and then wondering why people are obese was just the start. Building towns without recreational outlets is just the logical conclusion.

Drew Gibson
Drew Gibson
10 months ago

Just had a look at the map of Northstowe on Google maps. Looks like the main businesses in the area are for pets. Not sure what this says.

Drew Gibson
Drew Gibson
10 months ago

Just had a look at the map of Northstowe on Google maps. Looks like the main businesses in the area are for pets. Not sure what this says.

Ash Sangamneheri
Ash Sangamneheri
10 months ago

Looks like failure of town planning, or willful bypassing of town planning 101s.

On a side note, we seem to have better quality commercial architecture than residential architecture in UK. So, what’s causing a healthy architecture there vs residential, less competition, regulation?

Ash Sangamneheri
Ash Sangamneheri
10 months ago

Looks like failure of town planning, or willful bypassing of town planning 101s.

On a side note, we seem to have better quality commercial architecture than residential architecture in UK. So, what’s causing a healthy architecture there vs residential, less competition, regulation?

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
10 months ago

This pattern of development is absolutely standard in North America. Monstrous

Stephen Quilley
Stephen Quilley
10 months ago

This pattern of development is absolutely standard in North America. Monstrous

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
9 months ago

This is not a new problem. In Bromley there is a huge estate that stretches for miles, where street after street stretches into the distance and not a shop or pub anywhere and appears to have been built in the 50’s. Where I live in Barnet, North London we have had 15 years of endless ‘regeneration’ which involves dozens of estate tower blocks resembling filing cabinets plastered with faux brick cladding, offering one bed flats for £600,000, the ‘shops’ uniformly ‘chains’, with the poor and vulnerable turfed out and told to piss off. The resulting strain on facilities like surgeries and schools has been immense; increased traffic has raised levels of pollution that are already above legal limits; the people rich enough to pay the prices for living in these monstrous carbuncles do not form communities, their leisure time is not communal. They are alienated from each other and the wider community. Pubs and family run businesses are collapsing. The people who work in poorly paid jobs like care, nurseries, catering, roadsweeping, etc can no longer afford to pay the rents that are being demanded, and there is no council or Housing Association housing to help them. Selling off the council houses and refusing to allow councils to replace them has been the biggest policy disaster of the last 40 years and Britain now has the biggest housing crisis in the developed world along with the worst housing stock and the shoddiest building sector on the planet outside places like Turkey. Our corruption is just more subtle and concealed than in other countries. In any decent regulated country nobody could build a single house until the sewage, gas and electricity had been laid down and shops, community centres, GP surgeries, pubs and parks had been built first.

Philip Clayton
Philip Clayton
9 months ago

This is not a new problem. In Bromley there is a huge estate that stretches for miles, where street after street stretches into the distance and not a shop or pub anywhere and appears to have been built in the 50’s. Where I live in Barnet, North London we have had 15 years of endless ‘regeneration’ which involves dozens of estate tower blocks resembling filing cabinets plastered with faux brick cladding, offering one bed flats for £600,000, the ‘shops’ uniformly ‘chains’, with the poor and vulnerable turfed out and told to piss off. The resulting strain on facilities like surgeries and schools has been immense; increased traffic has raised levels of pollution that are already above legal limits; the people rich enough to pay the prices for living in these monstrous carbuncles do not form communities, their leisure time is not communal. They are alienated from each other and the wider community. Pubs and family run businesses are collapsing. The people who work in poorly paid jobs like care, nurseries, catering, roadsweeping, etc can no longer afford to pay the rents that are being demanded, and there is no council or Housing Association housing to help them. Selling off the council houses and refusing to allow councils to replace them has been the biggest policy disaster of the last 40 years and Britain now has the biggest housing crisis in the developed world along with the worst housing stock and the shoddiest building sector on the planet outside places like Turkey. Our corruption is just more subtle and concealed than in other countries. In any decent regulated country nobody could build a single house until the sewage, gas and electricity had been laid down and shops, community centres, GP surgeries, pubs and parks had been built first.

Mark McCullagh
Mark McCullagh
10 months ago

While visiting the UK this summer I repeatedly remarked, while in city centres (e.g. Cambridge) on the number of near-derelict properties, mostly very old row houses, that should be torn down to make way for much needed housing towers. Just an astonishing waste of land. Baffling.

Mark McCullagh
Mark McCullagh
10 months ago

While visiting the UK this summer I repeatedly remarked, while in city centres (e.g. Cambridge) on the number of near-derelict properties, mostly very old row houses, that should be torn down to make way for much needed housing towers. Just an astonishing waste of land. Baffling.

Jeffrey Mushens
Jeffrey Mushens
10 months ago

Scrap the Town & Country Planning Act. Simplify local planning. Simplify and speed the process of building new homes, where people want to live. Don’t give people endless opportunities to say no. We seemed to build organic communities just fine before the T&CP Act. Maybe planners and a fetishised green belt are the real problems. Oh, and a review of Building Regs might be in order too. The urge for energy conservation – otherwise good – has resulted in restrictions on windows, size thereof, in new homes, making them uglier.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
10 months ago

The last thing we need is a developers charter to splurge all over whatever is left of England’s once beautiful countryside. What we need instead is a drastic reduction in DEMAND. Lower immigration is what I’m talking about.

Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago

That won’t happen. In fact, it’s just about the last thing that would happen.

Rob C
Rob C
10 months ago

That won’t happen. In fact, it’s just about the last thing that would happen.

Frederick Dixon
Frederick Dixon
10 months ago

The last thing we need is a developers charter to splurge all over whatever is left of England’s once beautiful countryside. What we need instead is a drastic reduction in DEMAND. Lower immigration is what I’m talking about.

Jeffrey Mushens
Jeffrey Mushens
10 months ago

Scrap the Town & Country Planning Act. Simplify local planning. Simplify and speed the process of building new homes, where people want to live. Don’t give people endless opportunities to say no. We seemed to build organic communities just fine before the T&CP Act. Maybe planners and a fetishised green belt are the real problems. Oh, and a review of Building Regs might be in order too. The urge for energy conservation – otherwise good – has resulted in restrictions on windows, size thereof, in new homes, making them uglier.