There are three easy ways to destroy a town.
First – relax the planning laws so that developers can build what they want, where they want.
Two – build huge amounts of houses all at once, all over the fields surrounding the town; infill any green space inside; make sure the houses obscure everyone else; make sure they are all unaffordable to local people, but attractive to second home owners and buy to let investors; make sure you don’t provide any new infrastructure, no new schools, hospital places, improvements to roads, to sewers; make sure that local industries; the marina, the last dairy farm are closed down and covered in new, ugly boxes with no gardens and in regimented rows.
You’re nearly there now! Make sure that the roads are so congested with new cars that traffic can’t move and then for your final flourish, sell off its most treasured, vital area, in the case of Totnes, the market and the garden and the central car parks without which a town such as Totnes cannot function.
Wonderful, you’re there. You have successfully choked an ancient and very special place to death; you look at the million pound houses replacing the marina and it looks good; you look at the tacky tacky boxes spreading out over the hillside along the river and you smile to yourself, who needs farmers, they’re mucky – we can buy all we need from the huge industrial intensive farming block in Hampshire. Who needs a market? The Black Prince may well have given this ancient town a charter, but that was such a long time ago, who needs history? Who needs tourism, there must be other jobs these people can do, well it doesn’t really matter, once we’ve got the locals out and replaced them almost entirely with second home owners, then we won’t be bothered with their complaints – black windows all winter are a bonus. Look at Salcombe, 70% second homes and no trouble at all. All those ridiculous transition people with their big ideas and their trying to live responsibly, there’s no money to be made in that, what’s the matter with them.
No, lets make sure we do to Totnes what we have done so successfully in the past to Torbay and towns like Newton Abbot, there’s nothing quite so satisfying as ripping the heart out of a marvellous old place and replacing that heart with concrete…