Monday, 26 January 2015

Prudhoe Hospital redevelopment planning application

My blog over the years has chronicled the poor quality of planning in Prudhoe (although I will remark that this year past has shown a marked effort to address one of the regular concerns in respect of drainage). After a long time in gestation, the Prudhoe Hospital planning application from the developer Gentoo and the owner The Homes and Communities Agency (remember the c word) is now made. It is here.

Paul Revill the previous Baptist minister of Stocksfield and himself a Prudhoe resident asked me "What do think Robert?". And remarked that flatting Prudhoe Hall might be a lost opportunity. This is what I said on Facebook.

"At one level Prudhoe Hall is the least of this. I do value Prudhoe Hall and also the Walled Garden (for which the plan if it happens is sensible, some sheltered homes outside to generate revenue for a publicly accessible garden operation). BUT what is needed here is a community, there are many excellent buildings here (like the pavilion) and some of the blocks which could be retained, adapted and re-used, to create along with many new houses variety and opportunity with continuity. The developer simply does not have the vision, the knowledge, the drive or the desire to do any more than knock down and build lots of houses with apparently no thought about where people work and how they get there? How does this impact on Blaydon roundabout? Why is it not matched to new road links across the Tyne to the A69 and south to the Derwent Valley (hardly very difficult that)? What is being provided as a social hub for the self employed with public Wifi (notably something Prudhoe's newest public building does not have)? Will there be a pub or a church? Many people, senior leaders, have said Prudhoe must not repeat Castlefields. In what respect does this development differ? Correlate what the developer proposes to . However after many years I have realised that Prudhoe's own ability with but two county councillors to cease being done unto and to take control of itself is very limited. The HCA could have offered the whole site to Prudhoe through the Community Partnership and the Town Council and said "now determine, your own destiny"."

On transport provision worm your way into this. It includes the offer of a minibus service for the development. How long will that last? Think 111. It is not a link to Newcastle or anywhere else. The "positive" step of offering such for 392+12+80 (Humbles Wood) so 484 homes tells me a lot. That anticipating people do anything other than drive hardly figures. It is a palliative sop.

One of the buildings slated for demolition. Why not flatted?

Thursday, 15 January 2015

What the Pope said?

"Mock Islam and expect a punch" the Pope APPARENTLY said yesterday on the day a Belgium suburban street was turned into deadly chaos by terrorists. Surely the media have misquoted him? Surely he meant to ask his Moslem friends (as I do) to explore Luke 6:29 or Matthew 5.39 (see ).  I would be amazed if this new and radical pope was wanting to suggest that religions should not be subject to critical investigation or satire. Perhaps I will be amazed, the IDEA that Catholicism has anything in common with religious fundamentalism is surely regressive? Or........... I sure hope the Pope has been misreported. If he had meant to contrast how some Muslims respond to provocation and how Jesus said one should respond I can follow. And if he stressed the difference between satirising a dead leader and personal attacks on individual believers that would be quite understandable, Any mocking and abuse of "the person in the street" is QUITE Wrong. But the problem we face is that of disproportionate response and if the Pope were to say a word justifies a punch and he meant to say this, I would be totally APPALLED. There is another test to apply here, well established in Western Liberal Throught. That of the notion of public interest, it is why politicians are mocked. Once you set up a system and become responsible for its operation, you enter the public domain. it has long been a principle and certainly one the French revolution applied, that strong public debate including satire follows. It is a principle I would be extremely loath to abandon. It leads to another word at the heart of all this. What does respect mean? I think we should respect those who we differ with, it is very important, but that does not mean to cow-tow. And when those we differ with over ideas move to physical violence we either have to turn the other cheek or as many humans do, we will finally snap. On our streets for very many years now, with those who peddle this violent extremism, we have turned the other cheek to. They have been allowed to express themselves. I rather think that the first days of 2015 may come to show that the West reaches the point of snapping.