Balancing the Cultural Dominoes

This thought may not be original, but it crystallised for me last weekend:

There is a piece in last Saturday’s Grauniad http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2014/sep/11/is-leipzig-the-new-berlin about Leipzig where it says (with my emphasis):

“Gushing reports of (Leipzig’s) thriving creative scene, green spaces and quality of living have earned the place the nickname Hypezig, and some locals fear its reputation as “the better Berlin” may attract private investors, and drive up property prices.  Plagwitz….illustrates the city’s transformation. Once a soot-covered industrial suburb dotted with the chimneys of metalwork shops, it has cleaned up its act but not lost its crooked charm. Buildings on the main thoroughfare, Karl-Heine-Strasse have almost all been renovated, but without losing their sense of history. Some of them may now house galleries and ice-cream parlours that sell strawberry and lavender sorbet, but family businesses such as Schicketanz butchers and Seidel’s bakery will keep the area grounded.”

It’s an eternal challenge: how one addresses dereliction and brings about improvement, but without destroying character, quirkyness and everything else of value.  Maybe Leipzig illustrates that it is about balance – always difficult to achieve but eminently preferable once you get there (lots of bicycle metaphors).

My fear of the Fifth Capital scheme is that it is an unbalanced domino – the first of many that could fall.  It will bring in the big developers and the corporates.  After them it will be Hamilton House, then other blocks of property and before we know it Stokes Croft will be just another high value street in Bristol.  The so called cultural quarter will be no more, and the international reputation of the area will be history.  The Knightstone scheme offers something very different that fits and helps balance the whole street.  That’s what we’re fighting for – not just the redevelopment of one site.

Julian (opionions above are my own, not necessarily those of CAG)

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