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Archive for November, 2009

The English Village Survival Throws.

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It’s non debatable that the idyll of living in a beautiful English country village rests strongly in the heart of countless people the world over. With it’s chocolate box picture imagery and a slower way of life, why wouldn’t it appeal?

With a history that goes back hundreds of years in many cases, seemingly untouched by recent trends of human greed, the English country village lifestyle is highly sought after. But! The English Country village is dying under all that pressure to remain just an idyll in our minds.

The local folk who give a community it’s heart are being scattered far and wide because they can no longer afford to live in their own village. When a family outgrows it’s present accommodation, the children who are ready to leave the nest can no longer afford to ‘buy’ property in their own community because investors and rich weekenders have bought up all of those ‘quaint village properties’ so that they can ‘buy’ into the English Country Village way of life.

There are no properties to rent now either, because the traditional landowners who used to build houses on their property to accommodate their workers are now selling them off to the highest bidder in order to survive themselves.

Then we have ‘English Heritage’, those stuffed shirts, who believe that they’ve been sent by God himself to protect the English Country Village and surrounding areas as a museum piece. But who in fact live their lives with their heads stuck firmly in that part of their anatomy where the sun never shines. It’s no wonder that stagnation has taken hold and the idyll of an English Country Village is in its last throws of life as anyone ever knew it.

Locals can now no longer afford to maintain their own properties because these stuffed shirts impose ridiculous ‘conditions’ on them. Only the most labour intensive, expensive materials will do. They also have to ‘ask’ permission from these jumped up food critics to continue with every simple step along the way, often having to wait many days for one to deem it important enough for them to show up in the first place.

What happens if these normal village folk turn a blind eye to the ‘stuffed shirts’ and carry on regardless? They’re hit with very large fines and told to return any work that’s been done back to the original ‘bad’ state. Madness? Not at all, how can it be? The British Government give those stuffed shirts their full blessing. There are ‘Laws’ these days to support the buffoons in charge of destroying the very fabric of the English country village.

There is a common law in nature itself which is as undeniable as E=mc2, and that is = “That whatever stands still and never expands, stagnates and dies”. Fact! If anyone thinks that holding back the expansion of our chocolate box village image just to satisfy those who want to stand, stare and admire is a good idea, then they are as guilty of killing off those very images as the ‘stuffed shirts’ themselves.

Shops are closing because the new influx of weekenders, holiday makers and tourists all buy their goods out of the village where it’s ‘cheaper’. They don’t feel that it’s worth paying that little bit extra so that the shop keeper can afford to live at all. When they go to the village pub (if there’s still one left) they moan again at the prices because they can buy the alcohol so much cheaper with their supermarket shopping.

They want the idyll, but they want it on the cheap. They don’t see the locals whose community they’ve invaded struggling to make ends meet because there is no local work. They therefore can’t afford to run a motor car to find work outside the immediate area, and with public transport very hit-and-miss in the English countryside, that’s not a viable option either.

It would appear that the English Country Village is strangling itself, but if you were to ask any of those villagers who are experiencing this stagnation and slow death of their way of life how they would save it. To a man/woman they would say “build more houses that we can afford to buy or rent”. That would give employment to locals, and boost the trade in the local shops.

The fact that expansion was being allowed would encourage small businesses to move into the area. Another lifeblood transfusion for the village way of life. New buildings don’t have to look stark and bland. Many new houses these days are built to look and feel very ‘country’ indeed.

In the Thames Valley, home to some beautiful country villages, we have a property developer ‘Westbuild Homes’ who over the past 20 years or so have continued to build their ‘cottage style’ houses that sit well in any country setting. They are extremely popular and often sell long before they’re even built, but just one small builder can’t be expected to save the village image as a whole, especially as the cost of those homes are out of the reach of local folk. But it does take the pressure off the demand for existing housing stock.

Planners across the UK are given a mandate to restrict any building of any kind within the many village boundaries. English heritage and its many tentacles are doing more than their bit to ensure that the mandate holds firm. But why do we have this unrealistic idea that history must be kept like a museum artefact? How do we think those villages got to look the way they do right now? Would they look as they do now if there were stuffed shirts around telling them that they couldn’t build any more? Of course not. They built when and where it was necessary to expand and grow. As did all of the major towns and cities the world over.

In America, we see cinematic images of the tumbleweed rolling through ghost towns because they stagnated and died. The original inhabitants were protective of their community to the point of ‘driving out’ any new comers, usually at the point of a gun. Their reward was the ghost towns we now see.

The stuffed shirts and planners are the new sheriffs who are shooting anyone who dares to try and alter the ‘community’ that God himself has supposedly ordained them to do….. ‘NOT’.

The English Country Village really is in its last throws of life. To survive, it needs to be stimulated as Mother Nature ordains. It needs to expand and grow. It needs to entice new businesses into the area not rebuff them in the way that the stuffed shirts and planners would do. In fact, they are the architects of their own demise also, because if there’s no heritage to protect in a few years time, they’re also out of a job anyway.

A self fulfilling prophecy I’d say.

Pete.

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