Close your eyes and imagine the perfect place to live…
Its Summer, of course its summer. You’ve got a great house – wisteria round the doorway – and a garden full of flowers with your family happily playing. Just down the road is a pub. Its friendly and cheery with a landlord who pours your favourite tipple the moment you walk through the door. The town you live in is big enough to walk around but small enough that you know people and you can pass the time of day when you walk out. And, of course, its safe.
You need of course to consider ALL the traditions in the town. I’m not religious myself but I understand the value of the church to the community so I want a pretty church or two with bells ringing on a Sunday morning and the occasional parade to add colour. We’ve mentioned the pub but what about the Post Office? Not a big thing for me but another meeting point – somewhere that brings people together and is vital when you need it. Personally I’d like my Post Office to be central with a bright red glistening paint job (not traditional Victorian colour I know).
And then the schools. I’d like a good school or two with local teachers who walk the streets at the weekends saying hello to the community they work in. Those streets would be clear of litter and everyone would play their part in keeping them that way. On the odd corner there would be a Bobby (showing my age immensely) who would know everyone and chat as you go by. I can see a park with a brass band playing in the bandstand each Sunday afternoon; drawing a crowd to sit in deckchairs or have a picnic. Behind the park will be sports fields with lots of participants in cricket and football. I’d like a wide range of shops. I do appreciate a supermarket occasionally, and would like one in my vision, but I love delis, interesting craft shops, great butchers, a proper greengrocer and a regular market. The market should definitely have a grocer and a hardware stall and it should be there rain or shine in regular hours, smart and friendly. The town will have good, green, public transport supporting it.
So there is my ideal – hopefully not too different to yours. It may be a little nostalgic and younger readers may think it is outdated but hopefully they will have their own views with a more contemporary feel.
I’ve never lived in my perfect place to live and unfortunately I see it slipping further an further out of reach. We all know these things exist in pockets. We appreciate, in the town I live in (Ashbourne in Derbyshire), our schools and churches. We love our Arts Festival, Shrovetide, Highland Gathering, Ashbourne Show, Christmas Shopping and the Remembrance Parade. We have good and well run sports teams and the Rec to play them on. We have a range of pubs and bars to suit all tastes but we probably wish we had Matlock’s Park and summer concerts, Bakewell’s market and virtually anyone’s Post Office.
Notice in the dream not one person wished for more ample parking, a range of bigger supermarkets, fast food outlets? So, if we all think it, we need to protect the vision. We’ve lost our Post Office fight and we are in danger of the same happening with the Supermarket planning and the Market. At the current rate we will have shops which are all the same colour but nothing worth buying. No-one would dare suggest we should convert the Memorial Gardens into a car park just because its not great right now. Now is not the time to be spending lots of taxpayer’s money on restoring the vision but please, please, please…
Stop throwing away what we already have (market, Post Office, supermarket planning)
When we do have the money put it towards the vision not short termism (Library, Rec play area, toilets, floodlights, flood defences, Police station rethink, and tourist information centre were all opportunities).
With a strong council vision and a sense of community as exemplified by the Neighbourhood Plan Team it can be done