UK buildings eroded by 'bling,' says designer

The face of Channel 4’s Grand Designs has launched a blistering attack on anonymous British buildings, which he claims are rapidly tearing down charming historic ones across the UK.

Kevin McCloud says for over fifty years Britons moaned about how post-war construction had wiped away so many character-filled and well-constructed buildings.

Now, according to the designer, the culture of bling is here and has infested the minds of architects, developers and politicians alike.

As a result, he claims that the UK is being populated with housing and commercial developments that “could belong anywhere.”

Speaking to The Independent, McCloud said today’s culture of erecting shiny new structures that are nothing more than “building bling,” is resulting in the “wanton and transparent destruction” of unique buildings.

According to the newspaper, his high-profile support of Foundry House, a Victorian glove factory in Yeovil, has led to the Department for Culture, Media & Sport intervening to call off the bulldozers.

Local councilors planned to introduce an ‘urban village’ in its place, in an example of how buildings past their heyday or function are relegated to the scrap heap.

“I am making a plea for forgotten buildings. They all have historic value,” said McCloud, who backed the petition to turn Foundry House into a community centre.

“They all have historic value,” he continued. “If you remove them you are slowly unpicking history. There is a ghastly kind of utopian ideology about it.”

The designer has more saving of bricks and mortar to do, in light of plans to knock down Churchill House and another endangered building in Bath, The Forum.

“They are both part of Bath’s history, There is a lot of vanity at work here,“ McCloud said, referring to the chief culprits.

“The vanity of politicians; architects, developers. They all want to create things that stand out and say, ‘Look at me.’”

The government has allocated £1.2bn up until 2008 to the Housing Market Renewal Initiative, which is seeking to make a positive impact in nine Pathfinder areas in the North and the Midlands.

The 2004 initiative said it would ensure local councils have sufficient powers to tackle the problem of empty homes in their areas.

The scheme states the priority is to be given to the demolition of homes and “consideration given to effective methods of refurbishment.”


10th April 2006

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