Change Alley

information, opinion, conversation

The Center Parcs Settlement Model

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Long Marston Eco-town 1

Flicking through the proposal document for the Middle Hinton eco-town near Long Marston in Warwickshire, I was struck by how familiar some of the images and wording seemed. Pictures of photogenic people relaxing in traffic-free squares, smiling families frolicking hand in hand through dappled sunlight, and serried ranks of pushbikes just waiting for someone to leap on and pedal furiously into the sunset. Maps (not to scale) of accomodation cunningly distributed through a setting of woodland, meadow and waterway. Earnest statements of the importance of the environment, and how much effort and imagination is being put into both conserving it and making it an amenity resource for all to enjoy. Is it? Can it be? It is …. it’s Center Parcs.

center-parcs1.jpg

Perhaps not as silly as it might sound. Surely I’m not the only one who’s stayed at a Center Parcs ‘village’ and wondered idly what it would be like to live there permanently. A cottage deep in the woods, with wildlife right on your doorstep. Car-free roads, safe for cyclists and pedestrians, with a regular shuttle service to get you from A to B if you can’t manage it under your own steam. A central hub at the heart of the settlement, with everything you need; sport, entertainment, shops, bars and restaurants. All you need to do is beef it up with a few things like a hospital, a school, a library and integrated public transport links and what’ve you got? An eco-town.

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Written by Pete Smith

April 6, 2008 at 4:21 pm

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