On a mundane midweek drive home from work I found myself absorbed in Radio 4’s Four Thought programme, which focuses on stories and ideas that affect our future. Football writer and columnist David Goldblatt took to the microphone this week to discuss urban regeneration and the state of our urban spaces.
After a tirade on the ‘grotesque pile’ that is 1 Hyde Park, describing such developments - and our zeal to provide them - as a stark contrast to the deep-rooted social and economic problems that our country faces, Goldblatt introduced us to Stokes Croft.
On the outskirts of Bristol city centre sits Stokes Croft, the anti 1 Hyde Park and the home of a great example of ‘guerrilla urbanism’. Chris Chalkley, the founder of the People’s Republic of Stokes Croft, set about using art and Bristol’s great street art culture to transform the area and help the community shape its future.
Through Chris’s acts of guerrilla beautification and his drive to create an area that encourages community participation and celebrates historic local crafts, the area has flourished and developed in line with local people’s wishes. This approach particularly struck a chord with our studio as we find ourselves in the middle of the regeneration of Chapel Street and the council buy-up of many of our surrounding buildings in Salford.
We can only hope that the council seize upon the wealth of creative talent that has made Salford its home and embrace the power that the arts can have on effective urban regeneration. In the words of Goldblatt, developers and councils should learn to nurture the goose that laid the golden egg and not force it to take flight to new lands.
Listen to the show here.