I bet most of you have started watching the new series of Grand Designs on channel 4 over the last couple of weeks. I have, and it is making some great viewing as always. But it was the first build in the new series that has stuck in my mind.
That particular project was a couple who had bought a run down old cinema in the town of Thorne, North East of Doncaster. As you can see from the image above, they made a very good job…though I think most were a bit unsure of that big white canopy right on the very top of the house.
One thing that stood out for me while watching the program was how the town of Thorne reacted to the build. A group of seniors and building enthusiasts from the town went to inspect their build as it was progressing, and they were all very pleased. They were pleased for two reasons. They were happy to see the young family getting on and seeing their dreams happen. But they were also happy as a previously abandoned building left to rot was now being rejuvenated and will once again become a focal point for their small town.
And that there is a very good point. We see all the time, up and down the country, small towns and cities where once old buildings used to be the epicentre of that place, but have been left to decay, along with the surrounding boroughs. There is a lot of effort and focus going into new developments both residential and commercial, which is important in an ever expanding society. However, what seems to have been overlooked are the buildings and streets that although run down and lacking attention. Given a bit of faith and some funding, there is no reason why old buildings like the cinema above can’t be made into someone’s dream home, or a centre for business in that community, or any other practical application.
There are old cinema buildings, churches, terraced rows and other similar properties laying abandoned that would make brilliant new developments. Not only would it help alleviate the rising housing problem, but it would provide a boost for the local economies both in terms of employment and desirability. I believe we should be putting equal focus on these buildings, as well as new ones. It would be fantastic if the UK can encourage communities to get together, like the group in Thorne, and help encourage property developers to take a chance in these derelict areas.