Ugly buildings

IN a recent letter in The Hunts Post (May 17) I referred to the longevity of some buildings in Huntingdonshire, in comparison with the meagre life of Pathfinder House, the HDC offices. Perhaps unable to believe it, you printed the age of the oldest buildi

IN a recent letter in The Hunts Post (May 17) I referred to the longevity of some buildings in Huntingdonshire, in comparison with the meagre life of Pathfinder House, the HDC offices. Perhaps unable to believe it, you printed the age of the oldest buildings I referred to as 50 years, when I had in fact referred to some buildings dating back 750 years.

I was thinking of the history of Hinchingbrooke House and its existence in the 13th century as a Benedictine nunnery. It interested me that, despite little remaining of the old nunnery, the long and complex life of this building, with its various revisions, reconstructions, re-thinks and re-designs, contrasts so vividly with the vision of Pathfinder House, as offered by the HDC leader, Councillor Ian Bates.

So apparently accepting of Pathfinder House having lasted only 32 years, Mr Bates speaks of the "long term" investment in the future of Huntingdonshire that the rebuild constitutes.

Perhaps the development of Hinchingbrooke House, from nunnery to private house to modern Sixth Form educational centre, reminds us that buildings that are allowed to live and develop become richer in the process, whereas buildings that are simply torn down and replaced contribute to the anonymity that characterises so much of the modern built environment. Do we really want a future architectural Huntingdonshire that has so little relationship with its past?

If we are to add something new to the local heritage trail, we will have to develop a finer cultural perspective than local councils appear to possess. Perhaps starting with the recognition that the Huntingdon and Godmanchester Civic Society has a case when it proposes that the Huntingdon library is one of the few good modern buildings we have and its proposed demolition (after only 40 years life, by the way) is quite unjustifiable.

SAM BELL

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