I’m sitting on one of the benches overlooking the golf course, by the railway bridge at the end of West Cliff, as I’m writing this. It’s a lovely late summer morning, with just a hint of autumn in the air.
What I’m looking at are three buildings that look like medieval fortresses.
Maybe you’ve seen them. They sit at the junction of Island Wall and Saxon Shore, as if guarding the entrance to the golf course, three large statements in glass and stone, wholly out of keeping, in style and scale, with the buildings that surround them.
They are still in the process of being built. One is finished, and is already furnished and decorated like a show home, the other two are in various states of completion.
Who gave planning permission for these monstrosities? Who thought it was appropriate, in our little town, to allow these gross, ugly, oversized indulgences to spring up and spoil the view?
I’m fairly certain you used to be able to see the sea from where I’m sitting.
The reason they look like medieval fortresses is that they are characterised by a huge round wall on one side, like the keep of a Norman castle, with two small windows like arrow slits very high up.
They are designed by Kapra Developments, whose website gives the following specifications:
Four large en-suite bedrooms, plus a master bedroom suite, all with balconies, on the top floor; a large open plan kitchen on the ground floor, with a 4m long island, and a separate prep kitchen, plus a living area with surrounding decks and balconies overlooking the golf course and gardens; and a double garage plus utility area on the lower ground floor, with additional space for a home cinema, home office and gym.
Pardon? How many people do you know who would require a private cinema and gym in their home? How much will these properties sell for?
What is certain is that no Whitstable family could afford them. They are not being built for the people of our town.
It is a measure of the kind of world that is coming into being that such open displays of wealth and status are becoming the norm.
I wonder if this is why they are made to look like medieval fortresses? Is it because the people who choose to live in these places will be as isolated from their surroundings, from the town and its people, as the Norman Aristocracy were from the peasants they ruled over in feudal times?
The super-rich are not just quantitatively richer than the rest of us; they are qualitatively different too.
According to a recent survey, the 25 richest families in the world control $1.4 trillion between them.
That’s such a large number it’s almost impossible to get your head around.
A trillion is a million million. If I tried counting up to a million, it would take just over eleven and a half days. Counting up to a trillion, on the other hand, would take 31,709.9 years.
This is wealth beyond imagining. If you want to know why the world is in such a mess, you really need look no further.
Wealth rules. It makes the world in its own image. We are not moving forward as a society, we are going backwards. Despite a housing shortage in our town, all the prime development is going to serve rich people from other parts of the world.
The poor have always been with us, it’s true, and the rich also. But such monstrous disparities in wealth and power haven’t been seen since the Middle Ages.
From The Whitstable Gazette 22/08/19
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