Came about “organically” but influences by wider Geographies
As I continue to read the academic book Suburban Urbanites (edited by Laura Vaughan – @urban_formation) interesting and some more expected insights on the suburbs have come up. I mentioned the first set of insights from the book here: Suburbs: What Are Their Relationships within a City?.
I have begun reading ‘Part B – Suburban Centralities’ from the book Suburban Urbanites. But in the last part of ‘Part A – Theoretical Preliminaries’ it touched on why High Street is faring better than out-of-centres mall as seen here: Malls More Threatened by Internet Shopping Than Main/High Streets? But what I wanted to know (and it was answered) is how did the High Street come about and what was it influenced by from wider Geographies.
Now the wider Geographies are most likely to come up in Part B which I will blog on subsequently. But in this instance I am looking at the Fear of Crime model that is drummed into Human Geographers like myself when studying the urban environment.
But first how the High Street came about especially in Britain:
So the High Street in Britain came about in a messy unformed but organic pattern in comparison to more formal programs as mentioned in the quoted text above. Given how High Streets have evolved subsequently below there is a stark warning in place:
For the most parts High streets have evolved (when allowed) to surrounding changes to geography, land use and cultures (that is the people interacting with the street as a street and as a place itself) And they will continue to evolve to the changing environment as well.
Now here comes that stark warning and in this case it goes to Auckland Council and Development Auckland. While we can build amenity through construction the final form of the amenity comes from the community (the people) that interact with the space which in this case is the High street. Now the problem is that public authorities can over-plan and over-engineer a High street and the entire outcome becomes an absolute dud (and a waste of money). Another problem that an over planned and engineered High street design might incur is this:
The Fear of Crime situation which as a model Geographers like myself have drummed into us is alluded to in the above passage from Suburban Urbanites. Now public authorities fixing a High street to mitigate against Fear of Crime is needed. What is not needed is the opposite because the renewal project led to a dead street-scape which manifested in a Fear of Crime situation.
So the message is this:
High streets at least with Britain and I would say with suburban Auckland came about in a messy fashion but evolved like a City in a more organic less formal way as witnessed today. I would warn public authorities to learn how a given suburban High street was born and subsequently evolved. This is because the High street evolves from changing geographies (environments) and are re-adapted to the changing requirements by a changing community.
So yes we can make a High street better by taking cars out of it, doing some street-scaping and removing obstructions to line-of-sights what are catalysts to the Fear of Crime paradox. But to do this the community needs to come with you in a genuine partnership. Not some token consultation and then just do it regardless anyway (looking at you Auckland Transport).