A depressing experience the other day. We stopped off at Sedgemoor services, southbound on the M5 motorway, for a break.
This service station has often provided a refreshing break point over the years – pleasant parking interspersed with trees, albeit rather crowded at busy times. The Tesco-style facility buildings were hardly the height of architectural elegance, but didn’t grate.
Now Sedgemoor has been redeveloped, as the signs proudly announced. The new parking area offers excellent spacious parking spaces, and there the plus points end. The new car park is all tarmac with marked spaces. All trees and bushes removed. Not a living thing remains. Maintenance costs presumably reduced to zero, apart of course from the run-off when it rains – in a part of Somerset recently affected by major flooding. What a testament to our society’s ever-increasing disconnection from the natural world. Had it not occurred to the planners that connection with nature provides refreshment on a long drive just as much as loos, food and drink?
And then there are the buildings. A huge Macdonalds ad defaced the side of the old buildings, which appear to be abutted by breeze block boxes. Aesthetics and any consideration of beauty were clearly not part of the brief, which appears to have been ‘cheapest to make and maintain’. Had it not occurred to the planners that beauty provides refreshment on a long drive just as much as loos, food and drink?
Money was invented as a means to an end. The modern form of capitalism appears to have made money an end in itself. If your sole aim is to make money you will do things in the most utilitarian fashion, unless other values are involved. Costs incurred, such as those due to increased water run-off, more accidents due to less rested drivers, increasingly precarious pockets of nature,… are externalised – someone else’s problem.
We see the resulting loss of connection with nature and with beauty everywhere, exemplified by this development of Sedgemoor.