Preserving towns and cities might just be what is killing them off

Laura Cartledge.
Laura Cartledge.

CONSERVATION is important.

The Weald and Downland Museum, for one, is an excellent example of this. However, equally important is where you draw the line.

Many of you will have seen the Chichester Observer’s front page last week about the writing being on the wall – pun intended – for a mural in the city.

A lot of the talk was based on its ‘artistic merit’, which I think is missing the point. One man’s Matisse is another’s Banksy, or Picasso.

This is about more than a painting, more than ‘listed building consent’ and more than a bakery... no matter how awesome Whipped & Baked, the bakery in question, is.

Preserving the city’s appeal shouldn’t mean we wrap it in cotton wool.

To do so makes me think along the lines of taxidermy – with Chichester at risk of being like a dodo, stuffed and propped up but with no light behind the eyes.

We should guide it, but let it breathe and change and grow.

Give it a chance to express its beautiful array of personality.

Warnings of what will happen if we don’t are all around us.

Take the Butter Market for example. In my personal opinion it is a shadow of what it was. I don’t hold the businesses to blame – they are just taking up what there are offered.

But heaven forbid if Little London goes the same way, becoming a shell which only big-brand hermit crabs will be able to afford, while the places we want to see and visit are pushed further away from the centre of town.

And us, as visitors, residents and, most importantly, I suppose, spenders go with them.

I think we all have a responsibility to stop this happening, rub our hands together (like a defibrillator) and get the spark back.

But we can’t do it alone.