Flooding…….is London and the South contributing to part of the problem?

With the issues surrounding all this flooding, previously we have heard from Gardeners and Landscape Designers/Consultants about these issues, yet whenever they mention they thoughts on the matter, people listen for two minutes and agree then they ignore what has been said.

Many say that a lot of the flooding is due to more of the landscape being covered over, thus having no where for the water to run – i.e. most front gardens are being converted from garden to a place easier to maintain with slabs and stones or covered over as extra car parking spaces. Is this because we are now relying more and more on car ownership due to us having to commute to work each day beyond the realms of local public transportation facilities…..

Some say that the issue is down to the Government – both present and past – not investing in the Environment Agency enough to actually adequately plan, prepare and make sure flood defences are in place. Could it be said high wages and fancy offices plus advertising campaigns are taking too much of their yearly budget?

Others say that farmers are to blame for the run off from their fields entering the dykes, streams and rivers bordering their land. Or is because Councils and British Waterways aren’t dredging and maintaining these dykes, streams and rivers. Maybe it that we need a policy of cleaning all these out removing the build up (and yes the same could be said for canals too) but this is a long-term project that even if started now, enough miles may not be cleared if another case of flooding occurs?

So, if all these issues are contributing to being part of the problem, let us have a look at The South of the United Kingdom (UK) and use this as an alternative possible starting point……

There is much discussion over:-

– creating a third runway at Heathrow
– building more social accommodation which is normally without a garden or if it has one, very small and mostly slabbed over, as people don’t want to take garden waste/rubbish through their house due to having no rear access to the property
– key-worker accommodation which tend to be Multi Dwelling Units (MDU’s) which are two to five storey’s of accommodation and again with no gardens or communal recreation areas of any real size
– more house building with no gardens to really speak of
– more roads being created to try to elevate the congestion created by people commuting into London and The South
– more business parks and estates being created to try to accommodate the amount of people moving to the south because they believe that is where the work is

The above being examples of situations that are occurring in the south of the country more and more which is creating the illusion that the south is becoming centric to the business world. Hang on, the south is not the centre of the universe but so many believe this and companies are not helping the situation.

The rise of more people moving to The South to study, live and ultimately try to work, is creating the main problem. All of which creates a knock on effect:-

– people need to somewhere to live
– more housing is needed
– land is becoming less and less available
– when land is available, the price is so high
– to get a return on the purchase, many houses or MDU’s are creating to generate maximum return
– with the above happening, lack of green space is made available
– to afford these properties, jobs are required
– businesses are required to allow people to work to afford the accommodation
– these jobs tend to manual labour to help develop and build the businesses and accommodation but can’t afford the prices so they have to commute
– thus more infra-structure is required which requires workers who in turn have to commute as mentioned above
– once the businesses are created, mostly are retail which need staff who can’t afford live locally so they can’t walk to work or use local transport due to the cost of living/accommodation
– these key-workers have to commute but from where? Often a greater distance thus travel will impact on these people’s lives, so an 8 hour working day can end up being away from home for up to 11-12 hours a day
– with less time being spent at home, people want low or non Maintenance properties, so gardens become irrelevant

Is there a solution which may help with these issues that are said to be part of many contributing factors but why want people open their eyes to this issue? Simply, stop and look at the rest of the UK!!

With the decline around the UK of manual manufacturing over the last 50 years as technology develops to make manual working more efficient by automation, surely we have a solution here…..

If we look many parts of the UK, there is lots of business areas where buildings have being lying empty for a number of years but nothing has been done, so, surely, if these areas are re-developed and also used for house-building surely this will help with some of the flooding issues?

We have just seen the re-generation of parts of Manchester to create the Media City facility in Salford (yes the Press have complained about the huge amounts of money spent providing travel and accommodation from London for staff and presenters) yet this still hasn’t created the huge number of jobs that projected – yet why? Is because the media has to be based in London?

With so much talent and skill based all around the country, we certainly need to take a wider looking things not just say that flooding to based on the lack of investment in the Environment Agency, no flood protection, etc, etc, the list can go on and on…

Isn’t it time we decided to reclaim not only just the High Streets but also consider the changing way of Retail and Manufacturing and see where we can re-develop and make use of empty shops and space above these shops? If you look at parts of Amsterdam for example, areas of the “Red Light District” is used by financial and high-tech companies during the day so it is completely used. Yes people may say this is due the fact that The Netherlands is a lot a smaller, but is this really a valid excuse?

Just take a look at “The City of London” or the “Square Mile” with Canary Wharf etc for example. Whilst this is the major financial heartland for use during the day, it is not really used at night and like a ghost town at weekends. Surely dual use should have been considered here? People may say that accommodation is there already, but this is vacant at weekends because of people returning to their main homes hence why it is quiet…

Nothing can be a quick solution (or fix) but what is needed is a complete mind-set change over the fact that London and The South is not “the be all and end all” of life as we know. We have many other parts of the United Kingdom many will are better for living and bringing up our children and also valuing and using the wasted talent we have around the country.

So, whilst the headline could be attention grabbing using the recent flooding issues, we are not helping ourselves and society by thinking that London and The South is the centre of our universe that we call the United Kingdom. Let us start looking re-developing parts that have lost manufacturing and where we have lost retail to out-of-town developments and maybe we can all help to save and protects our communities and the environment……

This is an abridged version of a blog posting that will or may be coming out shortly but with a covering such a vast area of topics, it may have to broken down in to several bite size chunks or into various topics…..

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