Howdens’ closure in 1988 meant it lay empty for a while. Though due to the company’s fame of expertise in engineering, after the factory closed there were talk of proposals at one point for an industry and technology museum to be created. However the next purpose of the site would not be as close to home as this, instead Page/Park propose a ‘mixed use’ development – consisting of housing units as well as meeting places and cafes.
From the visualisations it is clear that most of the historic entrances and stonework will be replaced. At first this seemed unfortunate, but they are possibly unsafe or unusable and Page/Park still seem to be retaining the victorian aesthetic of the site, which we were glad to see, as losing or covering up the depth of history on the site would be disheartening.
Although it gives a permanent purpose to the site, bringing far more life than it’s seen in the last few decades, and not allowing the site to be forgotten or demolished. It still raises doubts in places like if it will actually attract any custom. The locale as of now does not consist of much community or neighbourhood, with the only footfall really being commuters using the park and ride facility of the subway, motorists, cyclists, and occasional visitors to the school museum. The area lacks in any inhabitants, with no flats or houses in sight, only travel routes and open land.
For this reason, we feel Page/Park’s scheme may not be the most logical proposal, not only is it not the most desirable area to live, but there is no sense of community. The park and ride is the most community and most prevalent ‘building’ in the area, with it’s modern metal decor, and 4 stories packed with neighbourly business cars. The population of the area currently, sadly but surely only consist of those cars parked for the day, before they’re sure to leave, but return another day. Much like the area, never a permanent home for anyone but visited often for a short time. There are no local shops doctors or places of leisure. The nearest school is at least a 20 minute drive away. And the noise from the motorway, subway and train in all directions does not make for the warmest suburban atmosphere.
The fact that you can build cafes or houses anywhere, does not mean you should. Yes the area may be clearly lacking in these facilities. But with reason. People have chosen not to live there, work there, or relax there. People have chosen to commute there. It would only be giving people one reason to come to the area and with so many other places close-by for leisure activities, and affordable housing in nicer, more neighbourly areas, it will need to be seen to be believed if Page/Park’s proposal will attract, or maybe even kickstart, a community within Scotland Street.