I am nearly 88 years of age which means that I spend a lot of my time not only looking back, and comparing then with now, but trying to assess what is going to happen in the future if things go on the way they are. Most of my childhood and teenage were spent living in terraced housing, with very few dual carriageway main highways, but a large amount of agriculture and manufacture. These types of thoughts had me worried not for myself, but for those coming after me, because the resources of these very small islands are being sacrificed on the altar of convenience. I have written on this blog many a time about what I see of the precarious nature of our economy when it is considered two of the vital elements are no longer given a high priority that they demand. I’m referring to agriculture and manufacturing.
What is immensely obvious is that the lack of public transport and rail services are causing an ever-growing demand for fast highways, and wider roads too, through the increase in both number and size of the vehicles now in service. Once upon a time the excuse was that the car manufacturing industry required to be bolstered by private vehicle ownership. In view of the fact that we don’t have a burgeoning motor industry, this theory would then be farcical, By the same token the corner shop is no longer the mainstay of the district, and in every town that I have been in I have found empty shops caused by the arrival of a supermarket. Supermarkets engender shopping by motorcar, and on Saturdays and Sundays, this fact is eminently proven. When I was designing large drainage concerns, the standard then was the houses had to be built at no more than 12 to the acre. The houses that we knew in the past were built by leading manufacturers and the like, were 75 to the acre. Go into any dormitory town built in the last 30 years and you will find that they are built on a plot of land that provides approximately 60 x 30 feet garden, front and back. If you examine any one street, you will find that 40% of those houses have driveways in the front instead of a garden. This entails several problems, one is that the drainage of the run off will be considerably increased beyond the design factor, and there are other problems such sight distances. The worst thing of all is that it has been agricultural land that has been taken to revive this increased parking space for cars which are being used almost solely in shopping and the mummy run.
I think therefore that some re-evaluation of the terms of reference are required urgently if we are to remain self-supporting in an emergency, such as WW 2, let alone the economics and carbon emission factors, both of which are affected by the use of our islands for agriculture. For example, single-parent families are too preoccupied to consider any gardening to any great extent, and it would therefore seem more sensible to provide accommodation for them, and the elderly that is on a more amenable level, such as terraced housing, where there is a small garden at the back requiring little maintenance and the front is at footpath level. I believe that this will have the effect, socially, of improving the lives of these sections of our population. Currently we have lost the sociability of a village within a town or city, and the disadvantaged suffer badly from this insular existence.
I say these are obvious areas of consideration, and leave some of the others, such as communal play areas, localised shopping, increase in public transport by vehicle and rail, and even perhaps a subsidised system of mimi-buses to obviate the mummy run, to you for your consideration.