Things I hate #6

Housing developments that take on the name of the area they’ve just decimated. Meadow Rise. Top Field Drive. Maple Road. It’s like frying a calf in its mother’s milk. An obscenity. Sparkfields. Butterfield Close. High Royds. The Pastures. All marking areas gone and covered over thanks to Mr. Barratt and his mates. It equates to naming diseases after their victims. A black joke. A public relations piss take. Look at Orchard Close at Staincross outside Barnsley – in place of the huge pear trees and the gnarled old apple trees we get fifteen shoddy boxes destined for subsidence and negative equity. Not one single tree remains. No Cox’s pippins to scrump here. The old roses trampled on then scraped up by a JCB before being burnt. The ground that housed the orchard stripped naked and built on. Then there’s Malin Croft further down the village, a tight, claustrophobic development cobbled together in the early 1990s. The name conjures up images of a small holding, some goats, a few chickens. An old man with a mass of pure white hair, in patched clothes, collarless shirt and braces, tending to a vegetable plot. The slightly embarrassing but very green area delineated by rusting barbed wire and a fence made up from broken pallets and the odd front door. Once, perhaps. Now there’s badly laid tarmac and a BMW One Series on the block paving. And more heavily mortgaged cubes of promised happiness; complete with stuck on bay windows and mansard roofs hand-woven by craftsmen on the YTS. It’s the same tasteless story with Barley Meadows, Longfields Drive, Oaks Wood Hill. I despise this mocking, spiteful topography. The Brambles. Paddock Road. Moorland Avenue. The landscape of greed. Suburbia’s appropriation of England’s rural never-never-land for its own mercenary ends. Because rustic sells. Rustic is cosy. Rustic is marketable. Provided it comes with all the mod cons and is designer branded. Pilkington self-cleaning glass and multi-coloured recycling bins. The huge flat screen TV and the decking. Warren Drive. Limes Close. The Warren bulldozed with bugs and his pals trapped underground. The lime trees chopped down. It’s like a serial killer becoming nostalgic for his victims. Peter Sutcliffe sobbing through his one remaining eye over the women whose lives he snuffed out. Manor Gardens.

But what of the new estates that cloth brown field sites? Those property speculations that have been built on former industrial land now the green belt is running out. On the plots vacated by derelict factories and defunct collieries. Cleaned up, obviously. Safe for us all, unquestionably. Just a vague aroma of pathogens during the summer. A faint whiff of toxins after it’s been raining heavily. Nothing to worry about. Digging up the odd bit of asbestos when you put down the water feature in your very own version of Time Team. Just look at this, Margaret, white asbestos, you don’t see that these days! An occasional crack of plaster when the pit props shift five hundred feet below. But where is their sense of history? Why do these streets not celebrate their spatial heritage? Their occupational ancestry? Are we really saying that there’s no coin in Slurry Pond Drive or Caustic Soda Avenue? In Rubber Factory Crescent or Gas Works Close?

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2 comments

  1. GSmudger · December 24, 2008

    It gets better. Did you see this?

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/7779152.stm

    I think more bands should be honoured in this way. Anyone for ‘Agadoo Mews’, ‘9pm (Til I Come) Drive’ ‘There Is A Light That Never Goes Out Crescent’ or ‘Killing In The Name Of Avenue’?

    Like

  2. guinnessorig · January 4, 2009

    It gets worse. In relation to Caustic Soda Avenue, Lewes Council are cracking down – http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/sussex/7810512.stm.

    Like

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