Earlier this week I visited a small social housing project that was using some innovative techniques. Most of these were hidden, and the housing association had requested a conventional layout and appearance.
Nevertheless, the architect had managed to select solar panels that looked elegant rather than garish with the roof tiles. But when we went to the small back gardens they were dominated by the ugly array of wheelie bins. Recycling may be noble, but these bins are becoming a blight.
Many developers, of private as well as social housing, do not want to spend money on bin stores. properties Well-designed bin stores on older properties are probably too small for modern wheelie bins.
Does this matter? I think it does. Good housing with a rash of bins outside is rather like wearing a great dress with laddered tights or smeared lipstick - the small error masks the greater good. But it is not an easy problem. Eric Pickles decision to ask councils to demand bin stores is a good start. But I was talking to an architect a couple of years ago, who said that the trouble was that the bin lorries are very prescriptive about where the bins are placed. Living Streets is campaigning less on aesthetic grounds and more on the hazard to the blind, the mobility impaired and parents with buggies. If we can get something done about this blight, it will vastly improve our cities. Wheelie bins may look like a silly season story, but the issue is important.