Thursday, 1 March 2012

Who owns the view?

Yesterday's conference in Birmingham which was organised by the Managing Environmental Change at the Rural Urban Fringe team provided a stimulating day. I felt that one of the most interesting points of discussion was about who owns the view? People often have a real sense of attachment to the outlook from their home and this is understandable. The downside is that this may lead to nimbyism, as individuals want to continue to look out on unsullied countryside. This is common at the point where town meets country, and the newcomers want their own little piece of development to be the last, with no further spread of building work into "their" view. It's one of those points that is obvious once you think about it. But is it fair? Maybe this attitude is as outdated as the mindset of the old British Empire: if I can see it then it belongs to me. Perhaps we need to plan with more equitable aims in mind, and in a way that will benefit everyone. And what about the green belt? Everyone was agreed that people need green spaces but does it now have an unhealthy stranglehold on sensible and sustainable development? Would green wedges or, even a green banana, work more effectively? But on the topic of bringing fruit and veg into the landscape, Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible was inspirational. Whether you live in the town or the country, it was impossible not to turn one's thoughts to guerrilla gardening. A recording and other products from the conference will soon be available on the project's website.

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