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(By "Digger.")

Those people who attended Mr Hurst Seagcr's lecture on town-planning came away wibh many new ideas. There was a feeling that something "ought to be done." but little notion as to how it should be done. Many were impressed with the beauty of places such as Letuhworth, Hampsteau, or' Port Sunlight. But to apply these ideas to Ashburton seemed it not hopeless, at least impracticable. So enthusiasm disappeared as difficulties showed large on the horizon.

In the first place, it is well to recognise that, broadly, Ashburton has been admirably planned. We owe much to the pioneers who thought ahead of their times and planned on a scale meet lor future needs. To them we owe our first-class domain, to them we owe our public squares and numerous reserves, to them we owe a streets plan that is. if not artistic, at'least practical, and which has no defects of space which "have to be remedied now at great expense. But we owe them something more. This fine heritage of foresight, of planning: ahead, this unearned increment of efficiency was put into^ our hands as trustees; we must hand it on to the coming generations with proper additions of interest, simple and compound. In short, even as the pioneers, so must we plan ahead and not move blindly forward until we are "bushed" —bushed in a maze of unsightliness and confusion.

In the centre of our town, for instance, there are two fine public squares, which have been improved much of late years; we could improve them much more. The anachronism of hi_p-h fences still enclose these beauty spots. Why are they thus " cribbed, cabined, and confined ?" Is' it feared 'that someone will run away with the hand rotunda or the Boer ■WaiMemorial ? There, is no hope of that, we may rest assured. In Auckland recently, much stiffness has been banished and much beauty created by sweeping away unsightly (and unnecessary) fences. The same feature of banished enclosures has added to the charm of Christchurch. This little thins could be done without offending that mightiest of dictators—our Docket. Further, the iron fence of Baring Square East might be "disposed of at the present time at considerable profit to make more beauty, or, if it were desired to keep it intact for sentimental reasons connected with the giver, it could well replace the thick hedge_ that at present conceals the beauties of our Domain from travellers on the railway.

Aberdeen is a city which impresses all visitors by the harmony of its civic architecture. What will be said of Asliburtou in this connection years hence ? It depends upon our foresight I now. It is possible. that two more i corner sites overlooking Baring Square Eawt will be filled with new buildings in the not very distant future—the proposed new church and Courthouse are referred to. It should surely be possible so to plan them as to harmonise with the present Post Office. A hint of imagination and it will be seen that so planned there would be the promise of a very fine square, which new County offices might reasonably be expected to complete. Given such a fine example, the necessary re-building in our main streets may not be undertaken in that entirely utilitarian spirit which in the past has added so much sauatness and lack of inspiration to our new buildings. Looking to Baring Sauare West, there is the proposal to site a. War Memorial Hall, overlooking the Square; and here, again, a harmonious plan might be evolved to agree with present and proposed municipal buildings.

In Victoria Street, East and West, there are fences worthy of a zoo placed round a few inoffensive trees. This is not only unnecessary, but wasteful and ugly. Experience in Christchurch has shown that the trees on such spare triangles can survive even the most vigorous offensives of small boys without protection; and together with their small plot of mown grass, these spots become beautiful instead of being eyesores. Finally, there is the East Belt, more commonly known as the " Sahara Desert." It is a wilderness of grass and shingle at present; a double line of trees and in a few years it would be a stately boulevard. Owners of property fronting on such thoroughfares have a direct interest in making them more beautiful. One need not go out of Ash burton to realise that there are fashionable residential districts where owners of property ask, and receive, much higher value for houses or sections than in other' districts. The reason is not far to seek. Despite the scoffers, there is a premium on beauty, on little amenities, on a trifle of SRstheticism. If this is recognised, residents will not wait for the long delays of the council, but work out their own salvation to their own private profit. Street and beautifying associations could accomplish much for particular districts to their direct benefit, both from an aesthetic and monetary point of view.

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Bibliographic details

TOWN FUNNING., Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9588, 16 April 1919

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TOWN FUNNING. Ashburton Guardian, Volume XXXIX, Issue 9588, 16 April 1919

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