I had the priviledge this afternoon to meet Sir Terry Farrell, urban designer and architect extraordinaire, who came into County Hall to meet with us about some of the challenges facing the county and its future. The rise in freight through Dover, the demographics of an ageing population, the enormous new housing targets being handed down from Government – all of these calling for vision, courage and foresight.
I had heard a lot about Sir Terry. His innovative and iconic buildings are legendary – you only have to look at the MI5 headquarters on the Thames, or the masterplan for the Greenwich Peninsula to see that.
But what I wasn’t prepared for was a fascinating and engaging gentleman, whose thinking was clear. When Government asked him to look at the massive opportunity of the Thames Gateway project, he didn’t look at houses and roads – he looked at what was already there; its history and its heritage. And came up with “One Vision – A Thousand Projects” which looked at the Gateway as an enormous area of parkland with houses slotted into it; rather than tens of thousands of houses, with green space jigsawed in between.
Visionaries like Sir Terry Farrell are few and far between. It will be interesting to see what he makes of our mosaic county.