I do find it fascinating how simple things can make a huge impact on an area. Without turning into a neighbourhood busybody, which I realise I may already be!, I want to talk about a few trees that have been given the chop in my local area. Some of them will grow back, of course. Others have gone for good.
Graffiti Replaces Greenery
Let's start with the one at the top of my hitlist. There was a lovely bit of vegetation on a walkway between a road and the local DIY store. When I saw what had happened the first time, I got a double pang in my stomach, because not only had we lost the trees but we now get a good view of some graffiti, which must have been there in the past but was hidden by the foliage. It's hard to say what more has been lost. It's a tiny chink of urbanisation that has taken place. On its own, it means very little. I believe the cumulative effect is more troublesome.
Maybe the council will not have to worry about that section now as there's nothing left to maintain. The nothingness is part of the problem though in my view. Perhaps if there had been plans for a beautiful array of flowers or smaller bushes I might have felt slightly more optimistic. Instead, I try to tot up how this adds with other telltale signs of increasing urbanisation.
Car Ports Replace Gardens
I can see why it happens. Parking is an issue and you want to get out of the game of finding a space in the permit zone. So, that small patch of land in front of the house will just about fit a car on it! Cue the paving going down and the odd parking space emerges . . . sometimes with a car angling into the road. Developers can even look for these opportunities in a bizarre twist, where it makes the property listing tick another box of ‘parking space'.
I keep wracking my brains for a better alternative but I haven't had any joy yet. When this happens in one spot it looks a bit of a mess, but life moves on. I've driven through parts of West London where it's happened everywhere and it almost has that ‘broken window' feeling. A thriving community needs its outward sign that people care. Do car ports send out the message that parking the car is more important than creating a place with a great feeling? Just a thought.
Building Sites Replace Woodland
I understand the need for new housing but the impact of slashing back a large area of scrubland has removed the nice natural break between one part of town and another. Now, you can see the flats on the other side, which offer much higher density of housing than the traditional railway cottages. No doubt this view will change again when the next development begins. It would be fantastic to see more self build, as there might be more of a drive to have local input into creating green spaces around the new abodes.
More Light to See The Car Park
Again it's that weird sense that something's missing. Near the local sports centre this time, a number of trees had been cut down in the car park. One benefit of doing this is regaining all the light that might be owed to the space. I'm imagining the roots might have been causing trouble but it's that extreme contrast.
Could We Still Be Planting Trees in Our Towns?
I don't really have a conclusion to this article – it's just something I needed to communicate to someone! I've really written it to see what comments you might have. Is it a natural part of any space to become more urbanised? Do you have examples of where it's gone the other way? I'd love to hear from you.