East Wichel up close: an essay in little boxes part 23

Victoriana with a barnRecently I went for a wander along the recently built streets of East Wichel. Despite the intentions of the developers to make it look ‘vibrant’, the main impression is of row upon row of terraced housing; little Victorian-style boxes which, although all different, look drab and monotonous. The only thing to break the monotony are the barn-like blocks of flats: they just look out-of-place.

I’ve also been in receipt of some sales spin from one of the developers.

[T]he town has been inhabited since at least the Saxon times, evolving from a small market town with the arrival of the industrial revolution into the thriving residential and commercial centre that it is today.

Let’s just forget the damage that the current — thriving even — recession has done, shall we?

For sheer variety, Swindon’s extensive range of amenities is hard to beat.

The copy writer must have lead a very sheltered life.

From the quirkiness of the Old Town to the more contemporary retail parks and a designer outlet, shoppers are exceptionally well catered for, with numerous cafes, bar and restaurants to choose from.

No mention there of shops nor of the town centre. Lots of well fed ‘shoppers’ with nothing to buy then. They’ve thought of that though: they have a fitness plan.

In addition to a cinema and arts centre, the town boasts two leisure centres and a golf course.

Just two leisure centres? What’s happened to the other eight?

[T]he ideal base from which to explore many of the museums and historic places of interest which enrich the region.

And what about Swindon’s own museums and historic places? Aahhmmoops!

Cleaning up

It’s all very well Mr Wright suggesting that local Police Community Support Officers be given the power to give fixed penalties to dog owners who don’t clean-up their dog’s excrement, but the PCSOs are already fully stretched and have other important priorities, such as drugs and other anti-social behaviour. If forced to make a choice, which we are, I’d rather they were dealing with those issues.

I’m also not convinced by Mr Wright’s view that it’s a serious problem in the Railway Village. In Faringdon Road Park, yes, but not the Railway Village. And at the time when most of the dog walkers are around, early morning and early evening, I’ve not once seen a PCSO in the area… but I have seen most, though not all, dog owners cleaning-up after their pets.

On the wrong track

One of the common features of pressure groups and campaigns is their one-tracked pursuit of their goals, impervious to whether the approach they are taking is so inappropriate as to actually prevent them being taken seriously, ultimately reducing the likelihood of them achieving their goals. So it is with the New Mechanics Institution Preservation Trust. They will be making representations to the planning inspector who is currently assessing Swindon Borough Council’s Central Area Action Plan. The plan covers many things and the Railway Village is a relatively small part of that… and the Mechanics Institute an even smaller part still.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s perfectly appropriate for the Mechanics Institute to be a topic for discussion during the inspector’s examination of the action plan, but her remit is limited to issues of planning policy and strategy. Who owns individual properties is not a planning policy matter. Using the examination, as they are, as a means for yet again peddling the Preservation Trust’s view that the Mechanics Institute should be in their their ‘community’ ownership for community use is way beyond what inspector’s remit. Wasting everyone’s time making arguments that aren’t relevant just annoys and detracts from the small smattering of arguments in the Trust’s case that the inspector can consider.

If they want to yet again be labelled as vexatious, the New Mechanics Institution Preservation Trust seem to be going the right way about it.