The ‘urban village’ could be the shape of things to come. No commuting, no out-of-town superstores, no double parking. Instead peace, harmony and unassuming delis selling produce from local farmers.
In existing urban developments found in areas as diverse as Beirut and East Greenwich buildings often have shops on the ground floor and a mix of offices and apartments on upper floors, so the inhabitants can stroll from flat to office without having to commute. Shops and cafés are also close to hand. What could be better?
It’s an urban planning concept which aims to create an environment which is self-sustainable and environmentally friendly.
And here’s the nanny state bit it encourages community development and bonding. (Some of us might like the freedom to dislike our neighbours too if we choose.)
Putting people first has to be a sound aim, but there is just a hint of the Stepford wives about this approach, and perhaps a whiff of development-speak.
What it is clearly not intended to conjure up is a vision of vandalised high rises marooned in acres of windy concrete. Or a lonely out-of-hours newsagent plagued by marauding teenagers in search of cut-price cider.
And the fact that we are so clearly not supposed to think of nightmarish 1960s council estates means, ironically, this is exactly what springs to mind.