Sunday, 25 March 2012

Back to the subject of spatial strategy (do try and stay awake...), or the coming sacrifice of Meriden on the altar of new city building

Interesting article in the MoS today (which must nearly be an oxymoron) about government plans to put 100,000 houses in the increasingly narrow gap between Birmingham and Coventry.  Is there any common sense left in the world.  The same article, in what we must hope is just typical Mail outrage/spin, suggests the rebranding of Birmingham International Airport to, wait for it, Birmingham London Airport....  You know those occasions when you truly think you are living in the end of days?

Actually there is some method in the airport madness, in as much as assuming HS2 gets built then it will be quicker to get into London from Birmingham airport than it is from Stanstead.  That having been said, it doesn't do much for the sense of Birmingham as a city in its own right, rather than some form of extremely northern dormitory suburb of the great metropolis - rather like a super-sized version of Acton...

The problem is that this answers part of the demand for expansion of the national housing stock, without really addressing what it is that all these new Brummies are going to do when they get there (other than commute to London).  The idea of a forty mile continuous urban sprawl from the rust belt of the Black Country through to Coventry is something that really ought to make people stop and think about what it is that they want from where they live.  I know the relaxation of the planning laws is going to create a presumption in favour of new development, but at what cost to the domestic environment, and the sanity of the inhabitants?

I'm going to write something in the next couple of days about the coming referendum on whether Birmingham should have an elected mayor, but it would be interesting to see where the putative contenders stand on the idea of annexing Coventry as a flagship policy....  Not quite local democracy all this, is it?

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