Living near the (noisy) brownfields

I’ve just included photos and thoughts on the new Hiscox building rising up from the brownfield, from the point of view of a passer-by. Here’s another perspective, and an important one, from a resident living on the other side of this now busy and noisy Hungate regeneration area, as work takes place on other parts of it too, near Rowntree Wharf. A short video.

The location and context is clearer in this video. The massive crane on the Hiscox site is prominent in the background, in the view from Rowntree Wharf.

It’s not just the noise. I think many people near the busy brownfields will identify with this. Another short video, and a very powerful personal perspective, again from ‘yorkeye’ on YouTube.

I was interested to see a piece in the Press recently regarding a letter written by council leader James Alexander to Nick Clegg. It included his response to the idea that Government could ‘help fund proposed council tax reductions for people living near big new housing developments’.

I imagine the communities referred to are those living on the edge of the built-up areas, near the green belt, rather than those of us in the centre and suburbs. Here near the ‘brownfields’ we’ve been accommodating building sites for years. When I started this site there were many, mainly flats being built. It quietened down because of the recession, but now we’re off again with cranes looming over the Walmgate and Hungate areas. And of course many smaller developments too, in the suburbs. Building sites very close to buildings where people live and work.

I know I’m not alone being rather bemused and a little frustrated by some of the green belt lobbying, by people who are living in houses built in the last few decades on what was greenfield until recently.

Much of the lobbying to protect the green belt relies on our romantic attachments to any undeveloped ‘green and pleasant lands’. But it should be more honest. A lot of it is simply because those on the outskirts don’t want to lose their views and don’t want to live near a building site.

As the above videos illustrate, residents in the city centre have had to accommodate both of those things, the loss of views and the nuisance of building site noise. Perhaps the residents near the fields should accept that they too need to be more accommodating? We can’t build it all on the brownfields.

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  1. I cant find any sympathy for the people disturbed by the building work. The building work was always going to happen eventually, the site has been earmarked for development for many, many years, so the disturbance cant be claimed to be unexpected, neither can the loss of any views… Indeed, the disturbance and loss of views should have been reflected in the cost of the accomodation.

    The views were never permanent, and noise cancelling headphones will dampen most of the disurbance.

    ‘NIMBYISM’ isnt just reserved for the suburbs, apparantly… :-)

  2. I do have sympathy (probably obvious from the fact that I’ve included these videos). I’m surprised that there aren’t more people expressing similar feelings. I guess there are, but perhaps they’re just discussing it with neighbours rather than recording it in this way.

    Whether or not we have sympathy I think these are a valuable record of what it’s like to be living in the middle of this. I’ve often wondered what the Victorians thought as the streets of terraced housing filled the fields. Good that this perspective, here in 2014, has been recorded.

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