A naughty thought occurred to me as I drove through Aylesbury. What if we were to flatten the whole place and start again? I’m sure the town has attractive parts, but they aren’t manifest from the main road. If all the low-rise sprawl were to be replaced with handsome, four-storey accommodation blocks, organised around lawns, much of the South-East’s housing shortage would be solved at a stroke. At present, the style of development isn’t so much suburban as just just sub, there being no urbs. But no, it won’t happen. Instead, poor Aylesbury will have to suffer the roar of HS2 hurtling by. Fate has not been kind.
How the spirits lift when, down the road, you reach Waddesdon. You hardly need to be told that you’re in Rothschildland; the architecture picks itself up, polishes its shoes and stands to attention. The estate, owned by the National Trust but run by Lord Rothschild, is becoming both more accessible, through the creation of more walks, and more erudite, with a scholarly exhibition on Chardin’s Boy Building a House of Cards due to open in the spring.
And if such a thing were possible, more magnificent: they’re about to regild the gates. Couldn’t Lord Rothschild be persuaded to run the planning system? Britain would be a different place.
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