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A timely intervention

Ian Martin
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Ian Martin’s patience is tried by the conservative animal voices of epic space

MONDAY York’s historic buildings keep getting flooded. My simple, rational solution? Carefully demolish and relocate them, build a luxury retail development on stilts there instead.

It’s part of my ‘Neo York’ masterplan, aimed at ‘retooling’ this flinty jewel of a city. Alas, there are unexpected difficulties. York’s elegant, futureproofed alternative life plan has been turned down by the local authority. In disgust, I might add. A report commissioned by senior municipal roundheads from planning consultants Avarus says the proposal is ‘inappropriate, opportunistic and banal’.

This is particularly galling as my clients, based in the notional Caribbean, had engaged Avarus to SUPPORT the application. ‘Neo York offers a sort of magical bridge between ancient and modern? It’s definitely good,’ the expensive design statement said.

TUESDAY Mystery solved. Someone called ‘Tish’ was subcontracted by Avarus on a two-for-one deal to support and oppose Neo York SIMULTANEOUSLY. She simply negotiated a bigger fee from the town hall. It’s always a safer option to preserve the status quo. The sheer immorality of all this – no option given for my clients to increase their cash offer – is frankly appalling.

WEDNESDAY It gets worse. Neo York is now being cruelly mocked by cultural correspondents and their animal muses. ‘It looks like a big silly old spaceship what has landed from another galaxy!’ chuckled Serenity the architectural meerkat. She was on television, communicating via her companion and interpreter the arts writer Rose Quartz, who strongly agreed. ‘Yes, Serenity. Oddly narcissistic. Both it AND its designer have poor detailing and a lumpen appearance…’ ‘Ha ha ha Rose – brilliant!’ ‘Thank you Serenity. Here, have a truffle.’

We’re getting grief, too, from Sloane Bagshawe, architecture correspondent for Builty Pleasures, and her miniature assistance pony Dennis. Every week on their YouTube Ghastly Urban Hee-Haw Show, Sloane infers caustic insights from Dennis’s ground pawing, ear twitches and throat noises. Worse, she delivers his verdict in an adorable if inconsistent Essex Donkey voice. ‘O. M. F. G. Look at the state of THAT!’ she baritones comically. ‘I’m not being funny but who’s gonna go shopping there? Absolutely excruciating, I mean someone’s having a right laugh, honk hee-honk.’

I must be grateful for the relative restraint of my old friend Darcy Farquear’say, epic space correspondent for the Creative on Sunday and his dachshund Bauhau. They merely felt ‘a slight disappointment at the rather old-fashioned look of Neo York, woof woof, which resembles a giant glazed retail hospice, yap!’

THURSDAY ‘Lunch’ in the Gherkin and Firkin with my fixer Rock Steady Eddie, working out our next move and tweaking the masterplan. Maybe we could retain those ancient Judges’ Lodgings on the corner of the site, hunch the mall up a bit? ‘When was the last time any actual judges lodged there, you cockpunnet? There’s a budget hotel in our scheme, they can stay there without the risk of getting done in by scurvy or whatever, Tudor spies. No, we’ll just bung a few more kids with balloons in the rendering, couple more trees and…’

‘That’ll be seven ninety-two gents thanks, I’d stage an intervention if I were you,’ says Po-Mo Ceri the pub mananger. Ceri’s one of the happiest people I know. Gender-fluid former architect. ‘Yeah, I was talking to this planning consultant and he said local authorities are now powerless if you call your scheme “an important intervention”. Makes your target site sound like a hopeless case, dangerously addicted to harmful public subsidy and defeated by inertia. Stage an intervention. Anyone opposing it will seem like an irresponsible enabling dickhead’. Eddie looks thoughtful. It’s very similar to his evil look.

FRIDAY Resubmit Neo York as an exciting ‘architectural intervention’ which we hope will end political stalemate and provide a lead role for the city in Mr Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse initiative.

‘Please let us not pass this desperate urban junkie by as we power walk to the future…’ we mewl, sincerely.

SATURDAY Miniature assistance pony Dennis paws approvingly at a rendering of a contemporary Viking laughing over his cappuccino in Neo York shopping mall and brays in anguish at an image of an insensible Viking slumped in a historic doorway, having pissed himself.

SUNDAY Bauhau the dachshund praises ‘new Neo York’ in the Creative on Sunday with a coquettish head tilt. Serenity the meerkat agrees, with a chuckle.

And they say the planning system’s ‘broken’!

An anthology of Ian Martin’s AJ columns will be published this year

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