My recent rant in City Life regarding Whalley Range – ‘attractive Victorian suburb’ or ‘lowly inner city in need of development’ has paid off handsomely with my claiming the letter of the week prize. My CD collection is now enhanced by the long overdue additions of Massive Attack’s Blue Lines, Lou Reed’s Transformer and Basement Jaxx’s Remedy
Archisnap’s an okay column that goes around picking out buildings and places of interest (did a useful piece on graffiti under Whitworth Street railway arches a while ago) and I’m all for talking Manchester up. But not to the point of pretending everything’s pretty. And driving through Whalley Range almost everyday (as I do), it was clear that City Life had over stepped the mark. Anyway, here’s the letter in full:
Where is the Whalley Range that Phil Griffin talks about in Archisnap (City Life, 524), you know, the ‘attractive Victorian suburb’? Can’t be the same one Morrissey sang about ‘What do we get for our trouble and pain?/Just a rented room in Whalley Range/What do we get for our trouble and pain?/…Whalley Range!/ Into the depths of the criminal world.’ That’s right, Whalley Range’s claim to fame is providing The Smiths with the creative despair great artists apparently require; a suburb with no legal nightlife (built by Mormons, it’s still got no pubs, though it lays claim to the Whalley at Brooks Bar).
I don’t really want to put the place down – I know it’s on the up – and the GMB National College is truly splendid. But the college is an exceptional building in a sea of bedsits (sorry, studio flats). Phil is simply wrong to complain about Whalley Range being developed. There’s a great shortage of affordable homes for single people and couples. The large well-to-do families those great houses were built for left long ago (most with Victoria herself). Its hypocritical to praise the Victorians for embarking on a ‘flight of fancy’ with the college, while condemning present day architects for clearing failed, often dilapidated houses it to make way for much needed homes that better suit the way we live today.
Let’s hope the college stays a college, but at the same time praise the deputy prime minister for bringing in planning laws to break the ultra-conservative nimby-ism that would preserve seedy bedists at a time when modest homes are in short supply and in such demand that they are too often beyond the reach of City Life readers.