“No man is an island” and neither is any piece of land, whether private or public. Each site adjoins others, is visible from elsewhere and is part of the intricate web of flows of air, water, seeds and animals that respect no laws of trespass and know nothing of ownership.
But hermits can isolate themselves – in cave, a desert or atop the Stylites’ pole. I don’t need you and I reject your polluting influence on me. Land can be fenced off, gated and secured to keep out unwanted homo sapiens. But wildlife is more sensitive. The pavement slab, the stretch of tarmac, the splash of night light are chasms – unknown, unfamiliar and unfathomable. The chain is broken, the link severed, the corridor turned into a dead end.
Let’s turn now to the golf links. The ball is teed up, the club swung and the trajectory is true and sweet… the green approaches, the ball lands, rolls and… disappears in to the hole. A moment of glory, an eye blink of elation that hinged on a blade of grass, a gust of wind or even the angle the flag pole was returned. It’s traditional that the achievement of a hole in one is followed by paying for one’s envious friends drinks in the 19th hole. Such is the cost of such largess that one can buy insurance against that glorious day.
When undeveloped land is built on, to all intents and purposes it’s forever. No till death do us part, no quickie divorce. The decision to build may take as long as a planning committee takes to raise its hands. The consequences echo down the years and decades. A monument to those raised hands. Sure the buildings will last, sure they’ll be used. But at what price? And who’s, and what’s, paying the cost? How far will the ripples go?
Broxtowe’s tory blue councillors face a dilemma this coming week. On Wednesday, 20 July 2016, do they follow the advice of their officers and permit development of part of the former Bramcote Hills’ golf course or do they listen to the clamour of the local community and the trinity of local councillors who stood on tickets so green they were the envy of Robin Hood.
As they ponder their decision, they might reflect on why they are in this position in the first place. They might lament the missed opportunities: Beeston Town Centre Phase 1, the air space above the bus-tram interchange, profligate low density development, the lure of the silver screen in Town Centre Phase 2.
They might also copy St Ignatius of Loyola. Eyes closed… fast forward in time: what will Bramcote look like if they say ‘aye’ and what if they defy their officers and say ‘nay’?
Is the ridge the place for concrete, bricks and mortar? If so, why stop at the Golf Course? What example will they be giving to others? Will this be a starting gun fired to encourage others in the race to pave Bramcote yet further?
Or is the ridge the place to savour that sweet moment of saying Bramcote is good; Bramcote works; Bramcote is sustainable. Even if there may be a, post hole in one, challenging cost to saying so.
This is a defining moment for a blue administration that wants to be seen as green: will it be a sweet hole in one or a bullet hole in the foot?
Wednesday night will tell.