Tuesday, 10 March 2009

All the windows open in the house

All the windows are open in the house as it gets a top to bottom spring cleaning ahead of guests arriving from the US tomorrow. The boyz have been relegated to the bottom garden to keep out of the housekeepers way - thankfully it's a beautiful sunny day so they are happily dozing under the trees oblivious to the major change in routine that comes with having visitors.
This morning we learn that the Italian government has come up with a plan to allow home owners to expand their homes by up to 20% without needing to obtain planning permission. They also aim to fast track the building of new apartments. The legislation is designed to encourage people go out and buy construction materials and employ builders as a counter to the slowdown in the economy. The problem is that Italy with a rapidly declining population is already awash with new apartments that seem to stand empty with no apparent buyers. Town like Orvieto, Todi, Pisa and Lucca are being swamped in a sea of unsightly new construction as the developers build on ever more acreage outside the old town limits waiting in vain for foreign buyers. There doesn't seem to be a recognition that unsightly developments and empty urban sprawl have a negative impact on tourists and tourism - to their credit some sophisticated municipalities like San Gimignano have learnt this and have imposed strict planning controls to balance growth outside the town with renovation inside- but sadly the towns that try to balance the demands of the old and the new are the exception rather than the norm. Already the view from Orvieto has been changed for ever and Todi is going the same way. As for Pisa words cannot describe the concreting over of the countryside with light manufacturing and warehousing units. Oh for enforceable regional planning laws to bring some order to the chaos.

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