16 April 2009

The threat to the residential streetscape

April's meeting of the Kingston upon Thames Society (KSoc) was a discussion on the topic "The threat to the residential streetscape in and outside conservation areas".

The discussion was facilitated by members of a local Conservation Area Advisory Committee who presented a number of photographs of Kingston street scenes for us all to comment on.

It will come as no surprise that we generally agreed that the (few) good things were brick front walls, wrought iron gates, street trees and grass verges.

The biggest cause of the bad things was the motor car which could be blamed for road humps, paved front gardens, pavement cross-overs to allow access to the paved front gardens, posts to stop people parking on the liked grass verges, the profusion of road signs and cars parked on paved front gardens but still obstructing the pavement.

The other villain was that fickle beast fashion that has convinced people that their Victorian brick cottage could be improved by painting it a bright colour, removing the front bay, replacing the windows so that they look nothing like their neighbours, or by bolting a porch onto the front.

There was a mixed reaction to modern buildings (I'm a fan) and to 20 mph zones (I think that they are a waste of money).

Overall the discussion was good and it was interesting to hear other people's points of view (be they experts or laymen, like myself) on the physical environment in which we all live.

I hope that the next step will be for KSoc to address the things that we all agree that we do not like, either as individuals regarding specific issues that concern us or as a group by addressing Council policy. I will be encouraging KSoc to take action on this.

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