Your recent editorial and correspondence rightly points out the poor quality and inappropriateness of recent designs for town centre supermarkets (AJ 18.1.01 and Letters, AJ 25.1.01). However, perhaps a more worrying issue coming to the forefront is that developers still expect to build to the same size and scale as they did out of town.
Under the guise of adhering to PPG6, Waitrose, after two years of secret negotiations with the local council, has just made public plans for a 23,000m 2superstore dumped on a corner of a narrow crossroads in the heart of the small, historic market town of Wallingford in Oxfordshire. Euphemistically described as a modern 'market hall', the stone and bronze-clad design is so inappropriate to the town as to be laughable.
The scheme may be in a small-grain conservation area of Saxon and medieval pattern, surrounded by historic and listed buildings, both residential and commercial, all of which will be adversely affected, but part of the site belongs to the local council, which has 'given comfort' to Waitrose, saying that it has a viable and supportable scheme regardless of important planning issues involved. Waitrose has made it very clear to protestors that the footprint is not negotiable, but that it will clad the exterior in any style or material people want! So much for architecture.
It is now going back to the drawing board: we await with bated breath the biggest chalet bungalow ever, all red brick, tiles and some nice little gables, maybe even 'Georgian' windows to appease the locals.
Sue Hendrie, Wallingford, Oxfordshire