Friday, March 10, 2006

Here Comes the Neighborhood

Now, this (PDF) is the sort of thing I usually love. A high-density mixed-use development, built next to public transportation. It's the sort of thing I used to ramble on about endlessly in California. But, there's a slight problem with the new CB1 development in Cambridge. You see, it's right behind my house. And it's hideous. Most of the buildings are to be ugly brick monoliths fronted by tacky multicolored, translucent plastic. These are commuter flats for people who work in London.

If the ugliness were the only problem, I probably wouldn't care. My neighborhood of Cambridge is not exactly known for its beauty and great architecture. However, the Cambridge city council (in its infinite wisdom) has decided that this development, this haphazard shoehorning of 2500 new dwellings onto a site the size of a postage stamp, this monstrosity, will only increase traffic in the neighborhood by 20%. Oh yes, and it's also got an entirely new bus station. And 700,000 square feet of office and retail space. And a giant new multi-storey car park which, according to the council's figures, will remain largely empty. Almost nothing is being done to the already overloaded infrastructure of the area to accomodate all of this new development. In short, this thing is going to be a disaster of epic porportions. Epic, ugly porportions. And just to sweeten the deal, several fine chav drinking establishments are also planned.

The view out my back door right now is surreal. Typical English garden, looking past a mesh fence to industrial wasteland, construction debris, and an ever-changing landscape of dirt piles and heavy equipment. On the whole, I'm glad my room is at the front of the house. The drunks and diesel buses on Hills Road, that I can deal with. Rebecca gets to hear the sound of jackhammers at 8:00AM every morning except Sunday.


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