Don’t ignore areas of decline – make them better through parks

Hoensbrook, in the Netherlands, is a place which has experienced population decline. Over the last 20 years it has lost over 8,000 residents and this has resulted in redundant buildings becoming vacant and empty.

Some of these empty buildings have been demolished, but instead of leaving their sites empty and leaving a waste land, a new park has been created on these sites.

This is brilliant, and is one of the things which should be done when places change in a way which leaves buildings of no further use. Instead of leaving a waste land, the opportunities of change and population decline at a local level must be grabbed to make places better for those people who remain.

Can you imagine this happening in the UK?

Apart from a few examples ( which I am not aware of) the answer is ‘no’.

In the UK we even have Local Authorities selling off existing parks and public open spaces because they can’t afford to manage and maintain them.

In the UK we seem to find it acceptable to leave people in areas of change living in a sea of dereliction, and experience a poor environment; until some vaguely considered re-birth occurs through some unknown process, at some equally unknown time in the future.

I recommend this here, from World Landscape Architecture, which gives more details of what has been done at Hoensbroek :

In the UK we need to think, and act, a lot more like this.

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