A SENIOR CONSERVATIVE minister has called part of Purfleet, “Pig-Ugly” in an attack on housing developments.
The planning minister, Nick Boles, made the comments in an interview for BBC’s Newsnight to be broadcast tonight (Wednesday).
His comments were made in relation to housing land. Mr Boles said that nine per cent of England has been built on so far and this should be increased to 12 per cent to meet demand.
Mr Boles said: “We’re going to protect the green belt – but if people want to have housing for their kids they have got to accept we need to build more on some open land.
Mr Boles added that he does not want “lazy” builders to fill the countryside with “pig-ugly” houses.
At this point, he made reference to a visit he made to Purfleet last week, when he visited Harrison’s Wharf.
Mr Boles said: ” Many (housing developments) are pig-ugly. Like Harrisons Wharf in Purfleet that I visited last week.
“I am sure the flats inside are nice enough but they occupy an overbearing and unbroken slab of dismal brickwork that is an insult to the community it borders, cutting it off from a stretch of the River Thames which, in Victorian times, attracted day-trippers from London keen to take a pleasant walk along banks of the river.”
Harrison’s Wharf stands near to the Royal Hotel and consists of 103 flats. Since they were built, Purfleet has gone on to have a number of “iconic” building developments including the Royal Opera House workshops, the National Skills Academy whilst plans are still being drawn up for the regeneration of the centre of Purfleet.
Even the local MP, Jackie Doyle-Price has made it her adopted home.
A report last year from the Institute of Public Policy Research warned that England faced a housing supply ‘black hole’ by 2025 with shortfall of 750,000 homes.
Mr Boles suggested that people who opposed more development were being selfish for denying adequate space to live in for their children and grandchildren.
He said: “It’s my job to make the arguments to these people [those who oppose development] that if they carry on writing letters their kids are never going to get a place with a garden to bring up their grand kids.
“I accept we haven’t been able to persuade them. I think it would be easier if we could persuade them that the new development would be beautiful.”
Mr Boles said in the programme, broadcast on Wednesday night: “The built environment can be more beautiful than nature and we shouldn’t obsess about the fact that the only landscapes that are beautiful are open – sometimes buildings are better.”
Mr Boles added: “I think everyone has the right to live somewhere that is not just affordable but that is beautiful and has some green space nearby.”
Mr Boles called this “a basic moral right, like healthcare and education. There’s a right to a home with a little bit of ground around it to bring your family up in”.
How Harrison’s Wharf was described in 2004 by the Commission for Architecture and Built Environment
“A lack of imagination, no design brief and the dominance of car parking are all to blame for the bad design of Harrisons Wharf. The scheme, which consists of 103 flats overlooking the River Thames in Purfleet, was always going to be a difficult project for developers Bellway Homes.
When plans were first drawn up the site was operating as an aggregates yard, was surrounded by other industrial units and faced onto a semi-derelict riverside.
But a lack of flair in the design has resulted in riverside development that does not have direct pedestrian access to the actual river.
A design brief was not produced for this site due to limited resources, this resulted in an absence of clear guidance from the local authority and limited amount of early communication with the developer. Remedial action has now had to be taken to improve the development’s connection with the surrounding area.