Well the Charrette has run its course and the Final presentation was given last evening in the Duke Street Lecture Hall. Even the layout cobbled together in eight days was better than any of the design work that we have witnessed around here for decades Was it too good to be true, you bet it was.
It was a very slick, American style presentation which would have done credit to any new town realtor. The presenter Andres Duany was an aggressive little man who seemed to think that the protestations of a week ago should have been silenced by his brilliance and the concept he had used. Perhaps he was tired, the link to Burnham Market seemed trite and a bit tenuous.
Instead, it was still the destruction of the plantations and the urbanisation of the countryside. The building of an american style housing estate where the plot size is not an issue seemed to presume money was no object. That could be its downfall. Unfortunately, this is not the US and there is no compensatory wilderness. Once the woods have gone, they have gone. If you take a look on Google Earth you will see that this will consume a larger area of woods than Mousehold Heath. It is no use pretending that roads, houses, streetlights and all the other trappings of urbanisation will be assimilated into these woods.
One thing it did was to put the performance of Broadland District Council in the spotlight. Broadland District Council and UK builders, who have given us Thorpe Marriott, Dussindale and now their greatest folly the Growth Triangle. Every one littered with failed promises and poor execution. In truth they are not equipped to do anything else.
These designers have done in eight days in public what others hide until they spring a planning application on us all. They also identified for the audience the huge developments, Broadland is trying to foist on us from Beeston Park to Cheery Tree Farm. What was outstandingly incongruous was the pathetic looking ECO Town and the NDR which were rubbished roundly.
This is still the destruction of the Racecourse and Belmore Plantations for the sake of creating an up market estate, which also reflected the american predilection for a car based economy. It tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to address the huge traffic problems which this and other developments will cause You think that is an exaggeration, well not only was the road connectivity so important to them they also produced an alternative plan to the NDR. Remember the GNDP had no plan B. Watch out this might become part of it!
The ecology was pretty well dismissed. It seemed to be a low priority as manifested by the derision heaped upon proposed coded house building standards; the joking dismissal of deer as a pest and the assumption that residual wildlife colonies in the estate would be sustainable. Typical, it seems of the world of the developer.
Can you do such a project in eight days? I doubt it, but this was intended to create controversy and it has. It has also set a dangerous precedent which includes the presumption that this amount of growth concentrated in one place is sensible. There is also the risk that the razzmatazz overshadows everything else.