I know that heading feels oxymoronic, doesn’t it? Prince Charles perhaps sums up a lot of people’s attitudes to Town Planners when he said this about a scheme they were minded to approve in central London back in the 1980s
“You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe,” he told the Corporation of London Planning and Communication Committee’s annual dinner at Mansion House. “When it knocked down our buildings, it didn’t replace them with anything more offensive than rubble.”
When I worked in the City at the start of the 1980s I helped out on a site assembly for a major office development of the sort much loathed by Charles. ‘Glass stump’ ‘Old 1930s radio set’ ‘ a carbuncle on the face of a favourite friend’ these were some of his sneering compliments. You would imagine therefore that the planners would be all for the client’s scheme. But no, it foundered for one reason.
The old medieval street pattern. London is riddled with lanes and passages.
No cars, not even a bike can get down some of these little cut throughs.
And the planners will not allow that character to disappear by letting clients such as mine enclose them into a new building.
And I’m glad.
Today I headed for a hiking shop in Covent Garden. My current pair of boots have worn through the heel after a few thousand miles in the last three years.
After buying a new pair – like waterproof slippers – I headed for Neal’s Yard off Shorts Gardens in Covent Garden.
26 Grains is a tiny cafe that sells, erm grains and, especially the best porridge a man can buy. Nordic Spice if you’re interested.
but they are all amazing.
After that I headed south taking in a variety of lanes and passages. It’s Dickens but not as he knew it. At the end of my wander was Somerset House, once upon a time the home of the Inland Revenue and repository of all the Birth, Marriages and Deaths records. Now it is a public space used in winter for ice skating and summer fountains for children to run through. The buildings house galleries and eateries. One gallery had an exhibition about Tintin’s author, Georges Remi. My perambulations were complete.