In response to the article 'Chips With Everything' (AJ 13.2.03), supermarkets do not enhance the urban environment, nor do they promote sustainable living. In fact, statistics have shown that for every new supermarket opened, countless jobs are lost within the local area.
The food that we are sold as being 'fresh to go' has often travelled from the other side of the world. It is often the case that food labelled as 'local produce', which has been grown locally, will be taken to a distribution centre often miles away before being brought back (via a dieselguzzling lorry on already congested roads) to land on the shelf.
Lest we forget, it is the local producers and retailers who sell real fresh local produce who are being forced to close by the heavy-handed pricing policies ofsupermarkets. Just a few weeks ago I took my weekly trip to the local butchers, only to find that it had closed down due to 'an increasing lack of customers'. I have no doubt that these customers are now marching up and down the 'uninteresting' and the 'uninspiring' rows of 'cavernous freezer cabinets' at the nearest supermarket, purchasing almost fresh, global local produce.
As a profession we should address these issues with an increased level of seriousness. If we take a back seat, we will only help to promote a future for our cities that will be dictated by global multinationals rather than serve the people who live in them. As we aim to address environmental and urban planning issues, we need to assume a greater ethical responsibility by which we can assess the commissions that we are being asked to undertake.
Supermarkets, and other forms of retail centres like them, will only increase the fragmentation of our already dispersed cities. These dispersed cities will only serve to further the use of the car to meet our everyday needs. If part of our remit as a profession is to promote a sustainable urban environment, should we sit back and allow the corporate might of the supermarket chains et al to wield their influence over the fabric of our towns and cities?
David Capener, Greenwich, London SE9