51 years ago, in 1970 Joni Mitchell wrote the melodic highly compelling song ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ with the lyrics “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot” to alert her listeners to the fact that “you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone” which included various different things including trees, animals, her old man and of course paradise. Paradise, of course, comes in many different forms to many different people.
Since 1970, and before we have witnessed the concreting of the planet. There’s a space, quick, build on it, swamp it in concrete! And of course, there is a profit to be had, and most likely through private development. I’m not against the building of homes considering that we have a population explosion and houses are in need of course. Plus, we have an influx of immigrants where I live, and I’m not talking about those from Europe, I’m referencing with satire to the ‘DFLs’, the ‘Down from Londoners’. I jest, but there is some anger from the locals about the DFLs, but nothing compared to the attacks of those ‘who didn’t stop at the first safe country they got to’ ad nauseum.
Housing in Britain is a huge problem, I’m not talking about ‘enough housing’, I’m talking about ‘Rent vs Buy’. There are people in Britain who will simply never be able to buy a home. But why buy a home? Because the price of rent is the same, if not more than the mortgage on a house. But unfortunately, the way our society is structured, it’s just not that easy, and so some people find themselves in terrible positions of insecurity for their whole lives. Let’s face it, selling off council houses wasn’t the greatest move considering the long-term effects to society’s most disadvantaged.
But it isn’t just houses that the world is being doused in concrete for. Just drive to the outskirts of any town and you can visit the corporate hell holes of superstores slammed together where people can choose to waste their weekends consuming to the hypnotic mediocre muzak of one of the ‘great’ musicians and voices of our time: Ollie Murrs and the like. Again, on the latter, I jest…
And so routinely like many others I like to get away from that world and stroll by the beach, along the promenade, sometimes with my partner, friends or alone with my thoughts, passing others who clearly enjoy the serenity that the coast clearly provides.
Where I live, in Seabrook, between Hythe and Sandgate there is a beautiful stretch of beach and grasslands with a canal running parallel called Prince’s Parade. But not for long. Pretty soon building work will begin for a new swimming pool, 150 homes, shops and a hotel. It’s time to lay yet more fucking concrete!
Of course, this will greatly benefit some, it could be a nice addition to the area creating jobs and providing homes. But it will also disrupt the wildlife and as I said cover yet another piece of land in yet more concrete whilst overlooking the beach where the local population routinely stroll back and forth. From the promenade you can, with your back to the sea look at the town inland, it’s quite a beautiful site, but like I say not for long, for a wall of houses will block the view.
I understand the arguments by the local residents particularly those who live close by and will be subject to how many years’ worth of work that will essentially be on their doorstep, but at the same time there are rows of houses in parallel with the beach, so at some point in history the same argument could have been made by the row before the next row was built, and so the argument could be viewed as hypocritical.
But still, how much concrete do you fucking need?! So, I go back to Joni. An age when there was a change in the air. She’s most certainly right, we may not know what we’d had until it is gone.
So, I ask the question, who are buying these houses? Are they affordable? For if, they are bought by people in London who have sold their properties, thus amassing a healthy profit and then moving into an area where they can buy more for less money, they will never know ‘what they had, ‘til it’s gone’ because they will have only gained as they watch those strolling by who could be suffering from the disadvantages of Thatcher selling off the council homes and will most certainly ‘know what they never had’ or never will have, as it is built before their eyes on the beautiful piece of land.
And of course, the wildlife, in the face of profit, doesn’t stand a chance at all.
Let’s be honest the only reason for the development is profit. BAM construction has just been appointed to deliver the new leisure centre, promenade and infrastructure work set to be worth £23 million and you can imagine the profit on 150 houses overlooking the English Channel.
The council have refused to accept a petition of over 6500 people, ignored 600 plus local planning objections and, more importantly, the Cabinet have overridden a vote made by the Full Council to abandon the scheme.
Among those who object to the plans are Historic England, the Environment Agency, CPRE, Kent Wildlife Trust, KCC Archaeology, Hythe Town Council and Sandgate Parish Council.
You can read more here https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/saveprincesparade/
And here: https://saveprincesparade.org/
So ask yourself the question: Do we really need to cover yet another piece of land in more concrete and watch a huge building corporation make a fortune with locals are priced out of buying a house yet again?
And as that contemporary of Joni Mitchell: Bob Dylan so well put: “Money doesn’t talk, it swears.”