This blogger has yet to come across a more appropriate aphorism. It summarises in just thirteen words the apparently insatiable lust for “growth” that now drives the developed world. It may also explain the obsession of perhaps a dozen politicians and officers within Craven District Council to smother what is left of Skipton and its environs in concrete and fake stone.
“Growth” has many meanings (maturation, germination, sprouting; blooming, mushrooming). But it has a far narrower meaning for big business and its political lackeys, signifying greed-driven expectation of ever-increasing annual profits and stock prices.
Behaviour that exactly emulates a cancer cell!
UK planning law has been remorselessly tilted in favour of developers and the construction trade since the postwar Labour government of 1946. Rightly so in the aftermath of the Second World War, when government’s overriding priority was to rebuild the nation after the awesome destruction inflicted on our towns and cities. Nothing but nothing was allowed to stand in the way of national reconstruction!
Today, sixty-five years later, UK planning law remains virtually unchanged; still skewed toward the interests of property development and construction, industries that continue to feather their nests and foul our landscapes with their exploitation of outdated laws. Laws which have not been subject to review — let alone change — since they were enacted in 1946!
In England at large (and Craven in particular) this situation is exploited to the hilt by property developers and their political whores. To say nothing of CDC’s salaried planning officers, eager evangelists for covering the district’s green fields with concrete and fake stone cladding.
Yes, the bid to defecate on Elsey Croft, one of Skipton’s few remaining greenfield sites, has been defeated — temporarily at least– thanks to a handful of public-spirited councillors who defied the threats and “advice” of their planning officers.
But there is no shortage of other development barbarians at the gates.
A fact that surprises few, given the enthusiastic proponents of “growth” within Craven District Council, spearheaded by its political leader and property developer’s confidante Cllr Chris Knowles-Fitton accompanied by his eager ally, former council leader Cllr Carl Lis, whose fulltime political activities were for over a decade funded by his employer – the world’s largest manufacturer of building materials.
This duo together with Maple Grove Developments, CDC”s “preferred partner”, aim to demolish the council’s former offices at 9 High Street, a 1970’s eyesore (see below) which itself replaced a Georgian terrace – and over whose demise no tears will be shed!
Not only will this blot on Skipton’s landscape thankfully disappear; the politicians and their planning officer acolytes also intend to redevelop the area behind, thereby impinging on our magnificent Victorian Town Hall (circa 1862) and sacrificing 68 much-needed parking spaces to appease the Gods of Retail whose shoddy presence pollutes almost every High Street in Britain, vending consumer trash manufactured in Far Eastern sweatshops by seven-year-old children!
In place of Number Nine High Street will blossom this masterpiece of design serendipity …
To the accompaniment of massed violins, this winsome ‘impression’ suggests how the finished new building might eventually look, thereby winning for local architectural firm Bowman Riley (also the perpetrators of the HML excrescence in Gargrave Road) this blog’s coveted Cosmetic Con of the Year Award!
Nothing so unpleasing to the eye as parked cars, you’ll observe; just a few strolling pedestrians. And Presto! … with one wave of an artist’s airbrush, the High Street’s most outstanding daytime feature — the permanent traffic jam stretching all the way down to Caroline Square — has miraculously vanished into thin air!
Instead we are treated to a tasteful vision of discreet new buildings in perfect harmony with their surroundings. Plus (nice touch, this) a few green blobs in the foreground to complete the leafy idyll!
Hands up anyone who thinks that’s the way our High Street will really look after CDC and Maple Grove Developments have finished with it!
Give or take five years, here’s a more likely view of Skipton’s national award-winning High Street …
Quite when CDC’s Planning Committee will finally meet to discuss the Maple Grove proposals is as yet [20 July 2011] unannounced.
The best guess is “sometime in September”, although the precise date will be decided — like so much else in the sphere of planning — by those who exercise the real power: a triad of controlling officers as opposed to our elected representatives!
CovertCraven will publish the date, time and venue of this critical hearing as soon as the details are known. Watch this space.