I have concluded that those of us that live on the coast have a differently calibrated barometer. Apparently we managed only 68 MPH winds yesterday while highs of 99 were recorded on the Isle. Such winds offer no challenge to those of us that live with an east coast wind it’s just another blowy day. Walking to the station I realised that it is not just the human stalwarts that shrug off the wind, the buildings do as well.
As I walked past the older buildings I saw no more than the odd jaunty angled television aerial. All very much a case of ‘nothing to see here’. But as I approached the pier I noticed odd pieces of felt and roof tiles littered amongst the bushes. The relatively recent flats had lost several pieces of roof. Like poorly prepared visitors they had not faired well against a mild storm. The roofs will now be repaired to a better standard and over time they will grow to withstand the environment. Sometimes the work will be too much and required too often and these buildings will lose the fight, when that happens the old buildings of town will watch in stoic silence as the newcomers depart.
As I walked past the development that surrounds the old pier hotel I thought again about our lamentable failure to secure a history for the next generation. The pier hotel was a marvellous building in its day and has had various uses since. Having closed it’s doors to the public the building was left to rot until a planning application was received to develop it. In what was either a travesty or outright corruption the morons that we charge to look after planning approved the development. Phase one of the development was to build new flats around the old building, phase two provided new public toilets to release more of the footprint and phase three redeveloped the original building for domestic use.
Phase one and two were completed before the shell company set up by the developers folded. Who could have seen that coming? The easy construction work completed and the quick profits realised the complicated task of sympathetically developing the old hotel was never tackled. To allow the building to have been raped like this is symptomatic of the lack of a reasoned planning policy. Development has to happen, of course it does, but why is it approached with such naivety? When a developer chooses to take a profit from part of a development then it is easy to control this and negligent not to. An arrangement should be made that profits are held in escrow until the task is complete, where the development fails the funds to be used to complete the original works.
In the meantime this building, and so many others, sits patiently waiting for some benefactor to see its beauty. Surrounded by an inappropriate development that has drained it of much needed commercial value the building retains a shabby elegance. On a morning like this morning I like to think that there is a sly smirk hidden in the grimy windows. Not a tile has shifted on the neglected beauty but it stands surrounded by roofing material stripped from the invading neighbours. Even nature seems to have more respect for our history than we do.