Pope Alexander VII, that great urbanist and patron of Bernini, built the colonnade around St Peter’s Square in Rome, improved the setting of the Pantheon and created the Via del Corso. It cannot be said that the works in our Pimlico street are quite on that scale, but to those of us living there, they seem to have taken almost as long.
At one end is the market, repaved with a surface that’s supposed to be chewing-gum resistant; at the other, a public convenience, installed at Easter and then abandoned due to a missing electricity connection. The lavatory has now emerged resplendent from its hoarding. In time, we’ll get used to the changes and forget that the street ever looked different.
There are, however, other changes afoot. When the rebuilding of Pimlico Comprehensive (award-winning Modernist structure of the late 1960s) is complete, our public library on the corner of the street will move there and that will free up the old library building. Ideas are being sought for a new use. Police station seems to be a popular suggestion. I don’t expect anything to happen soon. In the Age of Austerity, we may look back on public works as being as remote as 17th-century Rome.