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Published by jack elliot


Streets are a factor,

but natural meeting places are more important.

We have a lot more restructuring of society to think of, especially if we want to stop extinction.

We have, in effect, developed a system unsuited to people

but suited to institutions.

A lot of people live alone,

with little or no opportunity to meet.


Formal meeting places are not the answer.

It used to be the village shop,

now the anonymous supermarket takes over.

Shopping was everyday,

now we stock up for long periods.

We will not go back to those days.

There is no place to meet naturally,

so all meeting ( I exaggerate) is by formal introduction.


Where I live,

there are small outdoor common areas

with tables and benches.

Nice weather comes,

it is natural to use them,

meet and chat to neighbours.

Many here are elderly but not all,

but this has led naturally to a community

where we keep an eye on each other to make sure all is well.

That sort of facility creates the opportunity,

which is what people need, to just be.



1. The decline of the local shop was largely the rise and rise of the supermarket. The was aided and abetted by, the consumer. The consumer got greedy and demanded the supermarket over the traditional market and local shops from before. 10-15 years ago research was undertaken and found that supermarkets were ripping us off for the meat, fish, bread and vegetables that we bought. Yet we, the consumer kept returning. That is not the fault of the architect or even the planner, that is the consumer and society.

2. But there is a glimmer of light, there are more and more fishmongers opening (no figures just observation) in the less affluent areas as well as the more upmarket neighbourhoods. This I largely put down to the influence of people like HFW, and Jamie Oliver who have made big efforts to get people cooking again from scratch and obtaining their food from local producers, instead of just relying on the supermarkets. So just maybe there is change on the way.

3. The internet has changed the way shop so much and has hit supermarkets as well as the high street. The high street is going through a transition unlike anything before. It is at this point the brightest brains in town planning need to get their head together and start planning for what may become of our town centres. Yes, hopefully they start to conceive of idea that provide places for people of all ages to meet. More green areas would be welcome from a personal perspective. We have concreted over so much our river courses are struggling. More sports fields would help provide a natural storage for rain water, provide a break from the hard surfaces of buildings, provide recreational places for people to meet and would help keep the young and old healthy.

4. A lot seems to be demanded of our architects. Yet, the pay is not reflective of such demand and responsibility.  The construction world post-Grenfell has decided (Hackitt report) to push the demands even higher, without so much as a simple grasp that the salaries a so low that the more able are finding employment in other fields where the package is far more attractive. Those that are able and remain in the industry then have a huge burden to carry. Look at the cost of houses in the last 20 years. The rise in value and cost to the buyer is immense. But the fee to the architect and the rest of the design team remains a mere speck in the enormity of it all.



We need a fundamental shake up of town planning also.

Many who hold the reigns for the appearance of our towns and cities are idling in council roles waiting out retirement.

The few that are trying to get progress

and make a better difference

are struggling to get their views out for all the red tape, populism, politicking and self-centredness. .


Society in this country has decided where its priorities lie,

we live with the consequences.

Until society wakes up to that realisation,

things will not change.



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Comment on this post
Hi Jack,<br /> My grand parents owned a mom and pop grocery store. The business was one that was open 7 days a week to stay in business and compete with the large chains. 7 AM to 11 PM was a tough job, but my grandparents worked hard and lived a good life. They are both gone now but people still refer to the store by their name...even though the new owners tried to call it "Quick Grab" It did not catch on and they put the original name back on the store. Good to see...<br /> Trish