There’s a distinct whiff of NIMBYism about. And I’m probably as bad as the next man.
We’re constantly being told that there’s not enough affordable housing about, in the hope that in repeating the mantra often enough it’ll become true. The end of that statement though, which is never voiced, is – there’s not enough affordable housing about IN PLACES WHERE PEOPLE WANT TO BE: i.e. the South East. I don’t blame people for wanting, indeed needing to be in the South East. It’s where IT is. Look at property in areas “up north”: they’re not unaffordable; they’re undesirable.
Whatever happened to those dark satanic mills being the power house of the UK economy? Of course I’m not suggesting that we go back to the near-slavery conditions of the mill workers, but unless there is an economy in the North East, in the far South West, in Wales and the North West, in fact, unless we develop a way of “getting by” comfortably everywhere else as well as the South East, then the South East is where everyone’ll want to be. In the rush of the 80s towards the service sector (and especially putting far too many eggs in the banking basket), the government laid waste to countless communities and the way they’d made their living. I’m not saying that we should be burning fossil fuels – but you can’t just close the mines, the steel industry, ship building, car manufacture etc and not replace them with something. In response, is it any wonder that Dick Whittington goes to London to see if the streets are paved with gold?
I admit, I don’t want my city, Cambridge, to become just another suburb of London. I don’t want every square inch of land between here and Alexandra Palace – green or brown – developed with the same sort of rabbit hutches they’re building round the corner: built too small, and far too close together for anyone’s well-being.
The South East needs to recognise the value of its green spaces and protect them, and stop itself from becoming one unholy metropolis of London.