Guest column: ‘There’s a great deal to protect in Aylesbury’

BCC Cllr Lesley Clarke
BCC Cllr Lesley Clarke

An hour may destroy what an age was building: an old saying but a wise warning for the way we treat our environment - and a good adage for developers planning the way our communities grow.

History is strewn with records of the shocking loss of heritage.

Today planning legislation ensures propriety and moderation among those who develop our communities.

But it doesn’t always guarantee protection, especially of lesser known heritage that risks being inadvertently bulldozed into oblivion.

If you’ve ever listened to old Aylesburians reminiscing, it’s not long before the topic of the 1960s concrete Friars Square shopping centre arises, and you’ll hear strong opinions about the demolition of parts of the old town.

We have a great deal to protect in Aylesbury: history and archaeology stretching back to around 2,500 BC, making it the only Buckinghamshire town with clear evidence it occupies a site of prehistoric importance.

The town’s rich heritage, through the Anglo-Saxon and Medieval periods to its more recent history as a thriving market town, is something we want planners and developers to take into account when they envision our future.

Thanks to investigative work over five years by a team, led by Project Officer David Green, we now have detailed research into our historic towns and communities, which will help our future-gazers.

Funded by English Heritage, the team have examined the history and archaeology of 30 significant Buckinghamshire settlements, and charted them in their report, From Markets to Metroland.

Certainly it’s an aid to further learned historical research, but where its rubber hits the road is in its value as an influence to local planning policy.

It’s a compelling argument to developers to integrate our urban historical character into thinking and planning for the future, informing generations to come that they need to look after what previous generations have bequeathed.

Taking good note of this record of the past will enrich the shape of our future.