Marmalade Lane

Inspired by Rowan Moore’s article about new housing developments (see below), I stopped off at Marmalade Lane, one of the recent schemes he cites, which I knew about, but had never seen.

It doesn’t seem very difficult to see why it’s better than the acres of nondescript housing by which it’s surrounded: more solidly constructed, a bit smaller scale, more variety, involving the owners in the design of the interior, making sure it’s properly insulated, being attentive to the idea that a house should be a part of a living community. There are chickens in the back yard. After four years, it feels lived in and two people were happy to chat about what it’s like and show me the big back garden. This kind of friendliness on a remote housing estate is pretty unusual. I could have had a cup of tea in the community café if I’d located it.

I don’t quite understand why successive housing ministers find these ideas so hard to grasp, except that many of them may have received funding from the volume house builders who are the bulwark of Tory donors, so that, as a result, we have had twelve years of much crap new housing and no solutions to the housing shortage.

Gove’s latest idea is that there should be a new Architecture School focussed on urbanism which would mean that we might have some new housing designed on different principles in about twenty years time. Perhaps his civil servants could take him on a little tour. Perhaps they could go on a tour themselves.


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