Cottages or crops?


Style Cottage
Style Cottage in Uffington, one of the oldest labourers’ cottages in Berkshire.

The Wessex Regionalists give a cautious welcome to the government’s announcement of a new Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission, chaired by Wiltshire resident Sir Roger Scruton. The Commission aims, in the words of its launch statement “to champion beauty in the built environment”, and has a commendable commitment to preserving local character in new buildings. It’s a far cry from the days when Pete Seeger sang about “little boxes on the hillside…and they’re all made out of ticky-tacky, and they all look just the same”.

Equally encouraging are the protests from the champions of modern architecture. Scruton, they say, will unleash Georgian architecture upon us all. The horror!

A warning note is struck, however, by the title of the announcement: “Building better and beautiful will deliver more homes”. This is where we part company with the government, because the last thing Wessex needs is more homes. This is, after all, the same government that wants to create an Oxford-Cambridge conurbation. Our party’s manifesto states that we “demand an end to house-building that does not meet demonstrable local needs….There must also be stronger incentives to deal with the under-use of our existing housing resource so that present and future needs can be met without unnecessary loss of greenfield land.” Wessex is a primarily agricultural region, not a business park. It doesn’t matter how beautiful these houses are, how well they reflect Wessex architectural styles and Wessex building materials if there are so many of them that we no longer have land to farm.

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