When I learned that the Coastguard site opposite us had plans submitted earlier last month, I wasn’t exactly surprised, but nevertheless had a sense of foreboding. The site had been marked for development since the 2008 Local Plan, but being tight and coupled to the Assembly Rooms – a building at risk – seemed pretty unlikely to go forward any time soon. I fantasised the ground being planted up as an orchard or pocket park with trees, or perhaps a proportionate private owner occupier development. Yet the likelihood of this being yet more affordable housing was high, and although I would support any sensitive “improvement” of this site, I won’t be supporting this proposal.
We are told there is a housing crisis, and I don’t necessarily disagree. It depends on your perspective and the local context. Housing problems differ across the country and indeed the county, and cannot be seen in isolation from other social, environmental and economic problems. If you read the Daily Mail it all is the fault of immigrants taking away our homes or rich people speculating on asset values going up. Well neither of those 2 are going worry us around here, as there’s little work locally to attract immigrants and you can be guaranteed that your home is worth pretty much the same as it was 10 years ago, as property prices continue to stagnate especially in the old town. Migrants, like me, should have known better and heeded the warnings from friends and family.
For those of you not in the loop, so to speak, LEADER is a European funding programme, which is reckoned by the Eurocrats to be at the innovative end of the structural funds support programme, a very bureaucratic grant scheme intended to even out regional disparities in the economy. It is particularly geared to support for development in rural communities. The last LEADER programme ran from 2007-2013 and added £3.1 million to 72 projects in the Tyne Esk LEADER area, which is an appreciable number and sum.
A new programme will run from 2015-2020. To secure European Funding, there is a need to prepare a Local Development Strategy and Business Plan for the Tyne Esk programme area. Midlothian and East Lothian Councils are now consulting as widely as possible, but somehow I missed the announcement of the local workshop. Never mind, for there is an online form, commendably short and to the point.
The deadline for completing this survey is the 26th of June 2015.
I have a passing admiration for the marketing savvy of the School of Life, even if proper philosophy is supposed to make your head hurt. So, what if cities, and towns for that matter, were designed to be attractive rather than merely functional?