I lived for a while in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba. Photographs taken fifty years ago show a pleasant, open town dominated by attractive Portuguese colonial architecture, centred on a series of squares with green spaces, trees and a traditional cathedral. Go there now and it’s quite different. A wall of concrete stretches as far as the eye can see, look upwards and you can only see a small fraction of the sky, and the lovely old buildings lie hidden and overwhelmed by twenty of thirty stories of ugly skyscrapers.
Looking at Bournemouth today, where I have lived for the most of the last thirty years, I shudder at what I see. Heading towards the town centre from Meyrick Park, the lovely old buildings around the Square are obscured and in shade, Horseshoe Common is dominated by a new block of flats, and the walk from the Square to the pier is becoming a gauntlet of concrete and glass.
As for Lansdowne, the cranes tell their own story. Wall after wall of concrete reach up to the sky. The buildings are inseparable to the eye, just one huge block. Charming old buildings are obscured in the shade.
I regret what the planners and developers are doing to our city. Stop! It’s too late to turn back the pages, but not too late to draw a line under what’s already been done and draw a halt. No doubt someone is making a lot of money out of these developments – what a shame these people hold all the power to wreck our town. And, as always, ordinary people get no say.
Remember the waterfront complex? It’s happening again.
©David Lawrence Preston, 21.6.2018
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