City Planning

Over the last few months, one of the oddest consequences of COVID is that the City of London, which you might have thought might be taking a long hard look at what its future is going to be after nine months in which it has been nearly totally deserted, is instead taking the opportunity to rush through approval for a large number of monster new developments on its fringes, including a big office block in Aldgate, which seems to me to sum up much of the total misguidedness of what is happening:-

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There may be people who think this is attractive, but I am not one of them: it seems to me obvious that it is absolutely hideous and totally out-of-scale, robbing what is left of Aldgate of its character.

Now, interestingly, Chris Ferrary, a former city planner, has described how members of the City Corporation did not want to allow the building of a Marks and Spencer’s in the 1980s because they preferred to retain the surviving pubs and barbers shops. I see the point: that anyone like me who objects to new development cannot see or imagine the glories of the future when all the pubs and barbers shops have gone and we have nothing but gleaming empty office blocks and branches of Marks and Spencer’s.

Having worked for a period on the fringes of the the City myself, I’m afraid I think he is quite wrong and that the City will itself live to regret the annihilation of so much of its historic character as people may have discovered the attractions of staying at home rather than working in soulless and anonymous office blocks. But maybe he and his ilk will prove me wrong.

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