Do you like having days out in the countryside? Winding lanes and pretty villages. And there are so many pretty villages in this country. And as you travel across the country they change. Just think of travelling from Suffolk with its oak framed buildings, coloured render and red pantiled roofs, to Cambridgeshire with its buff coloured brick houses and tiles, to the Chilterns of Buckinghamshire with its red brick and flint buildings with red plain tiled roofs, to the Cotswolds with its richly coloured limestone walls and roofs and on into the red sandstone country of Worcester and Hereforeshire and on to the white rendered granite villages of Wales and Cornwall. Then, of course, there is the North and Scotland and another pallet of fantastic variety.
No country has anything like this richness of varying character in its buildings. Why? The answer lies under your feet – the soil and the rock beneath them. Before the advent of the railways buildings were mostly made from local materials because transport was so difficult and expensive. And it so happens that the geology of Britain is incredibly varied. The planners have a phrase for what that geology has produced in Britain – “Local Distinctiveness.”
Today things are different. We go to our local building material supply company and we have the choice of materials from all over the country and beyond. You look at the Heritage Range of paint colours and think you are doing the right thing, but that range relates to the whole country, not your locality. The same goes for bricks and roof tiles. The result is that ‘local distinctiveness’ is being watered down.
I regret this trend. The choice of colour and materials is very personal but my choice would always be guided by looking at the best of the local buildings and doing what I can to preserve and bolster that special local character that we love about this country.