Any street that’s called Grape has got me sold. But imagine this. Granite paving. A couple of independent cafes. A small bookshop. A wine bar or two. Maybe even something like a plant nursery (God knows inner-London needs a few). Oh I know it sounds like a yuppy wet dream but allow me this fantasy once in a while.
Whenever I walk round Holborn, I see so many unused spaces – or spaces not used well enough – crying out forlornly at me with the words, ‘Love me’, or even ‘Use me’ but ‘Please don’t abandon me’. Around the corner, as New Oxford Street sobs into its huge handkerchief of boarded-up shops and confrontingly ugly reconstruction of the former Navy headquarters, lost tourists wonder if they’ve just stepped into an 80s video clip, all burning rubbish bins and scraps of tarpaulin flapping in the wind.
I see an urban renewal opportunity. Just don’t tell the Prets and the All Bar Ones.
On a slightly different note – or perhaps a return to a former – I love this bit of modernism hiding behind Centre Point. Isn’t is wonderful? Those balconies are pure art. With a bit of love and care, the whole building could be blissful again (as I think it will be once Tottenham Court Road Station is finished).
And here’s a sneaky little laneway in Covent Garden, which isn’t even much good for walking through especially if tall (although I love it just the same).