Ground Control

When the figures say crime is falling, why are we more frightened than ever? Could our towns and cities be creating fear and mistrust? More property is being built in Britain than at any time since the Second World War – but it’s owned by private corporations, designed for profit and watched over by CCTV. From the Docklands boom to cities such as Manchester, gated apartment developments, gleaming business districts and plazas have sprung up over the country.

Has this ‘regeneration’ really made our lives better?

Anna Minton.

I’m returning to the MMU Didsbury Campus, the site began life as a baronial deer park and estate, in 1740 the site was purchased by the Broome family, and a new house was constructed after 1785 by William Broome, from 1812 owned by Colonel Parker. Following a succession of uses and owners the School of Education is established.

I studied for a PGCE in Art there in 1984.

Subsequently, fun and fashionable free-market economics, have increasingly governed the management of education and its assets.

MMU sold the site for an undisclosed sum to the developers PJ Livesey.

This is Sandown House, formerly the administrative block, redeveloped as private homes, each valued at £675,000 and upwards.

St James Park is an exclusive collection of beautifully converted heritage buildings and individually designed luxury homes offering opulent living accommodation finished to an uncompromising specification. Beautifully styled and perfectly connected, this gated development is located moments away from the heart of Didsbury Village.

So why choose a gated community?

The fear of fear it would seem, is on the increase, whilst crime itself is decreasing.

Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors  says that although residents feel safer in gated communities, it is more of a perception than a reality. Research in the US suggests that gating may not deter criminals and initial studies in the UK suggest the same.

If they are allowed to develop unchecked, it will breed hostility and threaten the social cohesion of the UK’s cities, the surveyors warn.

BBC

Social exclusion, the bitter taste of economic apartheid is obviously the plat du jour here in St James Place – there is limited pedestrian access and secure gates to inhibit unwanted automotive ingress.

There is an exciting array of CCTV devices, encoded gates and doors, ever higher railings in evidence.

Security for the terminally insecure.

It is possible to live in an open environment in East Didsbury, here on Ford Lane folks come and go, hopefully interacting with friends, neighbours. family and strangers passing idly by.

Though this is one of the most affluent areas of Manchester, and happily one is unlikely to find oneself with an unemployed collier as a neighbour.

Community minded, demographically diverse cities, will produce safe, secure, healthy places to live.

There is no evidence that gated communities are in any way safer, in fact they may well be socially divisive – this is the never never land of smoked glass Range Rover windows and mirrored wardrobes.

Architectural critic Ian Nairn makes a convincing case for a socially mixed residential development, which still maintains a regard for the area’s heritage.

I visited Lillington Gardens Estate in August 2018 – now a mature development, where those residents I spoke with, seemed happy and content with their homes.

Sir John Bland 5th Baronet 1691 – 1743 of  Kippax Park and Hulme Hall, was a British landowner and politician who sat in the House of Commons from 1713 to 1727.

His mother was Anne Mosley, daughter of Sir Edward Mosley of Hulme.

He retired from Parliament aged 35 and moved the focus of his local political activity from Yorkshire to Lancashire, where his mother had inherited Hulme Hall and the Lancashire estates which covered most of Manchester.

This is the celebration of privilege, power and property in pressed aluminium and print, saluting the progenitors of the Mosely Family, who once upon a time, were Manchester’s wealthiest landowners.

We live in an owned landscape where access is an issue.

Mr and Mrs Andrews would not the that little or nothing has changed since Gainsborough’s time.

Completed shortly after Mr. Andrews’ marriage to the daughter of a neighbouring gentry, a marriage that enhanced his estate, the image captures the unchanging power of property relations in pre-industrial England.

“They are not a couple in nature as Rousseau imagined nature,” John Berger comments. “They are landowners and their proprietary attitude to what surrounds them is visible in their stance and their expressions.”

One Way Street

The first thing I’d say is this is going to be an aspirational site within an aspirational areaPJ Livesey

So how did we get here?

Baroness Thatcher makes massive tax cuts for the wealthy, funded by North Sea Oil revenues, impoverishing the public purse, undervaluing the privatisation of public assets, encouraging the right to buy, yet inhibiting the building of social housing, hot housing the property owning democracy.

The term ‘property-owning democracy’ emerges from a discursive history of use. Coined by British MP Noel Skelton in 1920, the concept compounded the terms ‘property-owning’ and ‘democracy’ as a conservative response to left-leaning ideas of liberalism and socialism. At this stage, the term represented the necessity of protecting property rights from democratic organisation.

Wikipedia

More recently stamp duty holidays, houses as speculative assets not homes, low interest rates, massive middle-class inheritances, deregulation in the financial sector, all fuel the upwardly mobile housing boom.

Whilst for the lower orders years and years of pay freezes, attacks upon trade unions, the continued decline in manufacturing, small state austerity, zero hour contracts, rent hikes, attacks on the unemployed, universal credit and indexed benefits, have all fuelled reduced social mobility.

Looks like we have a schism on our hands.

The UK became a much more equal nation during the post-war years. The data available shows that the share of income going to the top 10% of the population fell over the 40 years to 1979, from 34.6% in 1938 to 21% in 1979, while the share going to the bottom 10% rose slightly.

Since 1979 this process of narrowing inequality has reversed sharply, inequality rose considerably over the 1980s, reaching a peak in 1990.

Equality Trust

In a community where public services have failed to keep abreast of private consumption things are very different.

Here, in an atmosphere of private opulence and public squalor, the private goods have full sway.

JK Galbraith

Come, now, you rich men, weep and wail over the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted, and your clothing has become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have rusted away, and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh. What you have stored up will be like a fire in the last days. Look! The wages you have withheld from the workers who harvested your fields keep crying out, and the cries for help of the reapers have reached the ears of Jehovah of armies. You have lived in luxury and for self-gratification on the earth. You have fattened your hearts on the day of slaughter.

James 5: 1-5

St James Park is an exclusive collection of beautifully converted heritage buildings and individually designed luxury homes offering opulent living accommodation finished to an uncompromising specification. Beautifully styled and perfectly connected, this gated development is located moments away from the heart of Didsbury Village, where residents can enjoy an abundance of independent café bars, restaurants and boutiques, as well as Didsbury Park on the doorstep.

Opulent heritage design, how could one resist?

Tellingly no mention of ever so adjacent Fletcher Moss Park:

Alderman Moss bequeathed the house and gardens to the City of Manchester on his death in 1919 because he wanted the house and its contents to remain, as far as possible, intact “to show what a comfortable house of the olden times was like”.

Didsbury Parsonage Trust

Everything’s gone grey, in the aspirational race for the neutral high ground of individualism, they have painted you into a corner of dull, monochromatic conformity.

Welcome to the professional world of self interested, low-interest, the get rich quick deregulated go-getter.

Now get out.

I dreaded walking where there was no path
And pressed with cautious tread the meadow swath
And always turned to look with wary eye
And always feared the owner coming by;
Yet everything about where I had gone
Appeared so beautiful I ventured on
And when I gained the road where all are free
I fancied every stranger frowned at me
And every kinder look appeared to say
“You’ve been on trespass in your walk today.”
I’ve often thought, the day appeared so fine,
How beautiful if such a place were mine;
But, having naught, I never feel alone
And cannot use another’s as my own.

John Clare

This is a revamped version of my original post, I was contacted by residents, who had reservations concerning the photographs that I had taken of their homes, whilst on their private roads, without their permission, in contravention of current legislation.

I have replaced these with photographs taken from public roads and also from pictures found on the developer’s website.

Places are different: Subtopia is the annihilation of the difference by attempting to make one type of scenery standard for town, suburb, countryside and wild. So what has to be done is to maintain and intensify the difference between places. This is the basic principle of visual planning. It is also the end to which all the other branches of planning – sociology, traffic circulation, industry, housing hygiene – are means. They all attempt to make life more rewarding, more healthy, less pointlessly arduous.

Ian Nairn again

Welcome to Notopia.

Ground control to Colonel Tom.

Merseyway – Adlington Walk

Once widely admired, Ian Nairn esteemed architectural writer, thought it an exemplary exposition of modern integrated shopping and parking, sitting perfectly in its particular topography – way back in 1972.

This German magazine dedicated several pages to coverage of Merseyway back in 1971.

Note the long lost decorative panels of Adlington Walk.

Many thanks to Sean Madner for these archive images.

Mainstream Modern has recorded its conception and inception, as part of a wider appreciation of Greater Manchester’s architecture.

The architects were Bernard Engle and Partners in conjunction with officers of Stockport Corporation and the centre opened in 1965. The separation of pedestrians and cars, the service areas, the multi level street, the city block that negotiates difficult topography to its advantage, are all planning moves that are of the new, ordered and systemised, second wave modernism in the UK. The aggregate of the highways engineering, the urban planning and the shifting demands of retailers frequently arrived at a form and order such as this. In this way Merseyway is unremarkable, it’s like many other centres in many other towns – consider the rooftop landscape of Blackburn. It is, however, typical and has been typically added to and adjusted during its life and presents perhaps the face of the last retail metamorphosis before the out-of-town really made the grade.

Each successive remaking and remodelling has seriously compromised the integrity of the development. We are left with dog’s dinner of poorly realised Post Modern and Hi-Tech additions, along with a failure to maintain the best of the original scheme.

Plans are now afoot to revamp the precinct – starting with Adlington Walk.

Proposed facilities include a soft play space, new seating, buggy stores, high grade toilets, parent and child facilities and a multi faith prayer room.