Digital Naive

Feb 20th, 2012 | Filed under Uncategorized

No, the title of this isn’t a typo, it is in fact an hilarious pun.

Julie Meyer, of BBC Question Time fame (who declined to get involved in one question because she couldn’t crowbar references to entrepreneurs and “digital natives” into an answer) has a blog, on which she posted the most outstanding/outrageous (delete as applicable) word mapping. It’s a sort of “how to copy and paste a press release into neoliberal propaganda” guide..

Anyway, as you might expect it’s awful awful awful, and I decided to store it someplace lest the original be removed. It was (though she neglected to change the URL stub, so you can see what it used to be – oops!). Sadly, in this new world of “digital natives”, it’s surely naive to imagine that you can just delete things from the Internet.

So I present, in all its foul glory, the Orwellian nightmare of “A New Lexicon”. Be afraid:

A New Lexicon
Do not say Say
austerity living within our means
welfare state something-for-nothing society
selfishness responsibility
investment (state) spending
free (state services) taxpayers’ money
greedy bankers greedy government
bailing out the banks politicians bailing out the banks
public sector big government
public services services
regulating nannying
regulations red tape
the rich people who have done well
accumulating wealth saving for later
broadest shoulders someone else
greed work
cuts bringing back to reasonable spending levels
fat cats entrepreneurs
wealth nest egg
key workers key voters
affordable housing subsidised housing
safety net state hammock
quantitative easing printing money
state created jobs private jobs taxed out of existence
people taxpayers
fair share of taxes excessive taxes
fairness reward for effort
redistribution punishing success
poverty is inequality poverty is absolute
fair trade free trade
he earns more than the PM he earns less than the PM if you  include the PM’s benefits
fair share I don’t know where to start to describe what’s wrong here.
public statist
progressive taxation disproportionate taxation
income inequality reward for effort
nantional insurance contribution tax on jobs
commercial what people want

And if you follow these simple rules, you too can convince yourself that funding a something-for-nothing society by punishing success through disproportionate taxation is an acceptable way of talking about using progressive measures to fund social good.

If you’ll excuse me, I need to go generate a bile surplus.

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So, 30 eh?

Feb 11th, 2012 | Filed under Uncategorized

That is to say, in early December, I finally turned the age that I spent most of my teens wishing I was. That was always the plan – be thirty, have a job, have a house, have a wife, possibly have kids. My entire expectation of my future lifestyle was based on my home life as a child, and in a sense it was perhaps more of an ambition than an expectation – I decided from a very early age that if I could do as well as my dad, then I’d be doing well.

And I’m there, more or less. I mean, the turning thirty part is roughly inevitable if you can just avoid death for long enough, but the other stuff is about right. The only significant missing details are that I don’t yet have children (which isn’t a problem) and that I leave the house two hours earlier every day than he did (see, in my expectations, I figured I might actually see other members of my family before leaving for work, which is a stretching target when you get out of the door at 5:30am each day).

But anyway, about the actual day itself.. It was basically a day of deception, in which I believed the plan to be that my mother in law would pop over and drop something off, and then Naomi and I would go to Bird World (in spite of the fact that it has limited opening at that time of year), to the extent that I was busy memorising the route when my mother and siblings showed up at the door. I hadn’t been expecting to see them until the weekend, so it was an awesome surprise (arranged by Naomi behind my back).. Then my mother in law turned up, and the six of us went for a delicious lunch in Worplesdon. It was around this time that I twigged that we wouldn’t in fact be going to Bird World at all – not a crushing blow, simply a lingering confusion in my head for the rest of the day as I retained this feeling that I wasn’t where I had expected I would be.

See, that feeling is a weird one. The sense that “I was meant to be doing something else”. It’s very specifically not a feeling I have about my own life, and the absence of such a nagging doubt is actually a wonderful feeling in itself. I had to go back through my journal a bit to check that I hadn’t just forgotten about something I was meant to be doing, and whilst I did find a reference to an ambition to visit every continent on the planet by the time I hit thirty, otherwise everything’s fairly consistent with this being where I aimed to be.

On the subject of travel, in my condescending way I’m rather glad that I didn’t naff off around the world after uni. Firstly, I don’t think I would have liked it – I’m not sure that I was really ready to fully appreciate the significance of what I would have seen, and wouldn’t like to gamble on developing that appreciation along the way. But more than that, it would only serve to delay the other plans – the get a job, get a house, grow up, settle down, that type of plan. The amount of work I would need to do in advance in order to afford to visit every continent in the space of the nine years post university would mean constant in/out of work, no stability, a perpetual repetition of a pattern. Whereas if I now aspire to do those things before I’m 40 (or older), I’m in a much better position not only to finance them, but to share them with someone special.

Which brings me to Naomi. It’s worth mentioning, for the record and because I seldom do online, that I made one hell of a great choice there. Beautiful, smart, passionate, and hilariously funny in both intentional and unintentional ways, when I look back over my twenties she was easily the best thing to come out of them. Or indeed my teens, if we want to scrape the barrel. When I look back over my “love life”, it’s quite clear that from the very start Naomi held the title of “Girl most likely to be the object of a desire to settle down with”, among various other desires which won’t get an airing here. She was always and immediately what I was looking for, and I couldn’t be happier to be with her.

I think that every now and then, she suggests (whether in jest or otherwise) that on some levels I see her as a means to an end, the modus by which my teenage ambition to be thirty and settled down is achieved. I can see her point, it doesn’t look good for me in that respect, but she has it basically backwards. It’s being with her that ensures that my ambition remains unchanged from that time. She is the reason why I’m able to consider settling down with her and building a life together as being worthy of its description as an “ambition” rather than simply an expectation. Her role is not simply to complete an arbitrary set of requirements, it’s to bring to life the very reason for having aspired to that as a future in the first place.

So all in all, I’m very happy to be thirty. Mission accomplished. I own a house, one I quite like in spite of it not being the size I’d perhaps like, and in spite of my abject failure to do enough with it as yet. I have a job that I love, that as of a few months ago actually stretches me, forces me to think more and develops skills that I’d let deteriorate. I have a wonderful wife, whose own ambitions are a little less simple than mine and whose drive to achieve them drags me along with it. Basically, I have a life that I know that I would have been proud of at any point in my teens or twenties, and the peace of mind therein is a great feeling to have.

Goals for the next ten years:

  • Visit those continents I have not yet visited (Asia, Oceania, South America, Antarctica)
  • Voyage into Space
  • Start a family whilst maintaining a work schedule that allows me to see them in the morning
  • Make a contribution to the world of which I can be proud, and which will outlast me

Any one of those will do. Clean sweep would be ace.

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Page 30

Jan 31st, 2012 | Filed under Summary and Conclusions

Summary and Conclusions

We were asked by Chinnor Parish Council to examine the basis for believing that the number of teenagers in Chinnor during the next two decades is likely greatly to exceed the proportion normally present in a balanced community.

We have drawn on statistical material currently available and used a sociological frame of reference to try to forecast the number of teenagers expected and their possible impact on village society during these decades.

We have done this in the belief that the teenagers in a community are not only the most vulnerable of its groups to anti-social influences but also that they hold the future of the community in their hands and that they are likely to treat the community as it has treated them in the past.

Finally, we have suggested a number of lines of action which should be embarked on now and which are designed to provide Chinnor with an integrated adolescent culture independent of nearby towns though looking to them in the future for facilities such as swimming baths which are clearly uneconomic to provide except at district level. Our hope is that these lines of action will prove to be practicable and effective and that leadership will emerge, especially from among the newer residents, to carry them into being and to make them continuously effective for the foreseeable future.

Once again we repeat that our main concern is that our teenage children should be able to find in Chinnor an environment which will allow them to develop their personalities, potentialities and opportunities in the fullest possible way and enable them to become mature and stable adults in their turn.

Pages 27-29

Jan 31st, 2012 | Filed under Part 2: The Remedies

Immediate Action

This section really brings us full circle to the beginning of this report where we discussed the existing facilities for teenage leisure. We suggested that these are already either inadequate or blocked on grounds of expedience or personal interest by the people who control them. We are now suggesting lines of action to mitigate this situation during the years before a youth club building materialises.

One such line of action has for a long time now been followed by the Congregational Church, which has established an apparently successful Youth Section, designed by its evangelical approach to strengthen the work of the church itself.

We have been very encouraged by the farseeing policies of two of the village’s organisations in respect of the adolescents and children. Both the Chinnor Silver Band and the Rifle Club have wisely developed thriving junior sections from which, of course, they can recruit into their adult sections. We would strongly recommend every other village organisation to examine its recruitment and training policies and capabilities with a view to creating separate sections for adolescents or else catering more specifically for them within their existing framework.

In our view it would be ideal if at this early stage, each organisation created an informal liaison with the existing youth leadership in the village if only as a means of publicising itself and attracting recruits through the youth clubs. Clearly this would not be the only means of recruitment but consultation of this kind would raise the status and improve the image of the youth clubs – assuming of course that they were themselves co-operative and helpful. As a corollary of this we suggest that each organisation using the village hall and other meeting places should bear in mind the paramount needs of the village youth and not press their demands too hard against the youth clubs when bookings for an evening coincide or conflict.

The women’s organisations both in Chinnor and in Kingston Blount have already shown considerable interest in and awareness of the problems of their growing children and it is from them that we expect influence to be exerted in providing the use of public buildings for teenage activities particularly if this needs more inertia to be over come in the matter of obtaining a license for music and dancing for instance. Both primary and secondary schools already provide in their curricula an introduction to such leisure pursuits as music, drama and folk dancing. It is desirable to concentrate the formation of organisations such as an orchestra in the village which would carry these pursuits on and allow them to develop.

Perhaps the Further Education Authority would provide classes in Chinnor (not in Thame) in subjects such as guitar playing, folk music or motor car repairs which might be attractive to teenagers as well as adults. The response to and success of these would clearly depend on the ability of the tutor in interesting and stimulating adolescents rather than on purely technical expertise in his subject.

Where there is a lack of indoor facilities for entertainment, adults who are willing and able to lead adolescents in a wide range of outdoor activities should be encouraged to do so. Among activities which are comparatively easily available within a day’s journey of Chinnor are hiking, camping, climbing, fishing, swimming, riding, motor and motor-cycle racing, go-karting, sailing, archery and gliding.

Some of these can be carried out within a very short distance of Chinnor and we would consider it the business of the youth clubs and the Parish Council to give what help they could in working out ways and means of achieving these if a potential leader emerged wanting to organise any one of them.

The mainstay of our recommendations for the future is a purpose-build youth club in the village. This is unlikely to materialise for five years or more and our final suggestion is that a small prefabricated hut should be hired or bought and placed on a suitable temporary site – possibly behind the village hall. This would be for the sole use of the youth clubs and would at least provide continuity of occupation and a meeting place potentially available on each night of the week if required. This should be regarded purely as a short term expedient and need not cost more than a few hundred pounds and possibly much less than this.

Pages 26-27

Jan 31st, 2012 | Filed under Part 2: The Remedies

Other Facilities

One of the chief pleasures of adolescents (or of adults for that matter) is to meet and talk an a coffee bar with a suitable decor and atmosphere is one of the more attractive places for this purpose. It also has the value under the right circumstances of being able to attract some of the 60% of adolescents who are much less likely to come under the influence of an orthodox youth club. A coffee bar should preferably be loosely attached to the youth club building or a redesigned village hall but could be run independently on a commercial basis in premises leased or bought by, for instance, a private benefactor. It is an advantage if the ‘proprietor’ can be trained in youth work in such a way that it enables him to carry on this work inconspicuously among his clientele. This sort of organisation exists in some large towns but not, so far as we can discover, in this county. An independently run coffee bar and restaurant for snacks in the village is perhaps the most likely to be achieved and our view on the desirability of this would hinge entirely on the character and personality of the owner and his capacity for influencing adolescents for good or bad. What would be preferable would be a coffee bar attached to the village hall or youth club building but it must be a place for informal meeting in sophisticated surroundings and decor, open until at least 11 p.m. most nights but particularly on Saturdays and Sundays.

Pages 25-26

Jan 31st, 2012 | Filed under Part 2: The Remedies

Organisation and Leadership of a Youth Club

In December 1968 a number of Chinnor youths were tried and indicted at Gloucestershire Assizes on charges of unlawful sexual intercourse and indecent assault. As a result of evidence given at the trial the following letter was written to the Chairman of Chinnor Parish Council by the Chief Superintendent of the Thames Valley Constabulary: ‘….The Learned Judge, Mr. Justice James, before sentencing, questioned the Officer in the case as to what facilities were provided for youthful activities in the Chinnor area. The Officer informed His Lordship that the local Parish Council had set up a separate committee to look into this problem. His Lordship then remarked that the appointment of a full-time Youth Leader to co-ordinate the activities of the young people at Chinnor could be an easy answer to the problem, and he requested that his remarks be brought to your notice. As requested by His Lordship, I am passing his comments on to you for the information of your Committee’.

These words, in the circumstances giving rise to them, carry considerable weight and they are certainly endorsed by the Probation Officers for the area and the local police. If, statutorily, Chinnor does not happen to qualify for a paid full-time youth leader then a means should be sought to overcome this by negotiation with the County Council as soon as planning for a youth club building has reached a realistic stage.

Having discussed with them all the problems involved and outlined in this report we have formed the unanimous view that the present Chinnor youth club leaders, Mr. Peter Pretty and Miss Beryl Cooksley, are highly effective as leaders, their lack of formal training notwithstanding. They have now over ten years’ experience in the locality and we find their style of leadership to our liking and from enquiries we have made, evidently to the liking of their members. The morale of their club is high and their success at the activities which they are able to undertake in very limited circumstances is outstanding. We consider that these qualities outweigh considerations of formal training, particularly as their lack of the latter may be due to circumstances beyond their control and can be remedied by them under more auspicious circumstances or with suitable support in one way or another. We consider that they should continue to form the nucleus of the youth leadership, other things being equal and if they should wish to do so, for the foreseeable future. We also feel that any other formal youth clubs in existence when a youth club building becomes a reality should be encouraged to use the facilities available. There should nevertheless be a definite leadership with whom ultimate responsibility for the building lies in consultation with the leaders of any other clubs using the building. We would hope very much that as facilities for the adolescents expand leaders will emerge for new activities from among the residents on the new estates who will bring in expertise from outside the ‘old’ village.

We are strongly against the suggestion of appointing a full-time youth leader shared with Thame. The distance and the lack of transport between Thame and Chinnor together with their different economic and urban status would make it probably that one place would benefit to the detriment of the other. It would be much better in our view for the two youth organisations to remain independently led and structured, each offering facilities not available to the other.

Pages 23-25

Jan 30th, 2012 | Filed under Part 2: The Remedies

Desirable Features of a Chinnor Youth Club

In general a youth club should allow for three groups of activities which nevertheless intermingle and are interdependent – outdoor sports, indoor games and (broadly) cultural activities. The latter might extend from coffee and conversation through ‘pop’ and classical music to the doing of school ‘prep’. For the first it is most desirable that the building should have direct access onto a sports area of some kind. Both grass and a hard surface are ideal but either might substitute for the other. In Chinnor this is particularly important as the existing youth club has a highly developed capacity for outdoor games and it would be vital to foster this outstanding ability. A hard court (possibly floodlit and covered) for outdoor ball games could be a desirable refinement in this context.

Indoors the building would need to house drama and indoor sports such as table tennis and badminton. It should have rooms in which a range of ‘cultural’ activities could take place from the noisiest (‘pop’ music and dancing) to the quietest (painting, reading etc.). Some of these might take place in a library if one was conveniently near. Given the co-operation of the authorities a nearby school might provide such useful features as a gymnasium for judo, boxing and so on. A workshop of some kind both for carpentry and for motor-cycle and car ‘tinkering’ should be thought of when designing the building. The latter would need an access road.

It is clear from the above that a number of these activities involve noise and this is unavoidable and should on no account be suppressed unless it is clearly on an unreasonable scale. At the same time it is desirable to site a youth club building some distance away from residential housing if posible. The solution to this problem in the high density towns of Holland has been to place the building on top of a sound-proof underground basement in which the noisier activities take place.

Bearing in mind these considerations and the need for the club to be reasonably near the village centre, there are four possible sites in Chinnor. Roughly in order of desirability we think these are:

  1. The new primary school campus
  2. Elsewhere on the village playing field (possibly on the site of Conigre Pond if this is to be filled in).
  3. The allotment land between Station Road and Cherry Tree Road.
  4. Any other still-available land within the building line for the village.

The choice between these possibilities becomes a matter for discussion with the County Council in the first place and a request for their assistance should be the next stage in decision making.

We do not consider that it is our function to suggest the brief for a youth club building. This comes at a later stage and is properly the business of the youth club leader at the time, possibly with the assistance of an ad hoc committee and in consultation with an architect. If a youth club building were sited on the primary school campus we would be concerned that the design of the new clinic-cum-library which is planned near the entrance to the campus should make allowances for its possible evening use by teenagers for reading and study.

Pages 22-23

Jan 30th, 2012 | Filed under Part 2: The Remedies

Ways of Providing a Youth Club Building

In our view a youth club as part of an adult Community Centre is neither practicable in Chinnor nor desirable generally. One of the main needs of adolescents is in identity-seeking and formation and taken together with their overall hostility to the adult world and the gulf between the cultures of the two, this indicates to us that it would be preferable for them to have their own building into which they can invite adults whom they trust and with whom they can create genuine relationships. The alternative of being somewhat mistrusted ‘hangers-on’ on the edge of what would clearly be mainly an adult’s building seems the less desirable alternative.

In Chinnor the only buildings which could conceivably become a general community centre are the old primary school and the village hall. The former is clearly earmarked for ‘overflow’ educational purposes for many years to come but were it available for exclusive use as a youth club it would certainly be adequate for this purpose. Moreover, providing the cost of adaptation and improvement was less than £3,000 it would be eligible for a 100% grant from the County Council’s ‘Minor Works Allocation’. The village hall is totally unsuitable at present and has many limitations in terms of design, structure and space around it when fundamental rebuilding for modern needs is considered. Any possible extensions to its internal space will quickly be filled mainly by a number of adult activities already clamouring to use it and it is surrounded by houses on whose owners it would be unfair to inflict the noise of a youth club for longer than an interim period. There are no playing fields immediately adjacent nor any other facilities such as a library.

Another possibility would be the provision by the County Council of a ‘Youth Wing’ attached to a scohol such as exists already at Thame and Watlington. We are informed that it is County Council policy to provide these only in conjunction with secondary education and under present policy there is no provision for this in Chinnor in the future.

The Oxford Association of Boys’ Clubs might consider a small building for boys only but as we have already shown that there are likely to be more girls than boys to be catered for this would seem to be a waste of money. Nor does it take account of the need for a mixed youth club which we discussed earlier.

A purpose-built mixed youth club costing more than £3,000 can be financed in two ways: (1) A grant of 100% of the cost by the County Education Committee which then insists that the building conforms to their own specifications and is designed by the County Architect. (2) Grants of 50% and 25% of the cost respectively from the Department of Education and Science and the County Education Committee. The remaining 25% is raised voluntarily by the community. This has the advantage that the community can brief and use their own architect although the building must still be approved by the County Architect. The cost to the community can be properly be borne by a levy on the rates.

These two possibilities seem to us to be the best course for Chinnor with our preference going rather to the latter. The money for both may need a wait of five years or more in the queue for priority, particularly with current financial restrictions, and in view of this we have already begun an application for this money on behalf of the Parish Council on the understanding that the application can be withdrawn at any time if a suitable alternative is found.

Pages 20-21

Jan 30th, 2012 | Filed under Part 2: The Remedies

Introduction

As a personal experience adolescence is probably the most disquieting, uncomfortable, angry, uncertain and yet often ecstatically joyful period in anyone’s life. As with the experience of childbirth however, the passage of time often subsequently removes the personal memory of this period and then sympathy for those undergoing it is often replaced by antipathy as their demands intrude on the comfort and ordered life of people safely ensconced in adulthood. Nevertheless, adolescence involves the explosive increase of awareness of one’s own self and the outside world and the beginning of the struggle to relate to adult life and experience while cutting the ties which harness one to the comparative safety of the family. The main aim of a community in relation to its adolescents must clearly be to allow the enormous mental and physical energy of its teenager population to find expression in as wide a range of experiences and activities as possible. It should try to provide conditions in which the adolescents themselves can widen the horizons of their experience and enhance their personal development into mature adults. It is very important that this should not be interpreted as trying to do it for them. The drive and energy must be theirs, the unseen guidance and permissive attitude the community’s. This does not imply that we should relinquish the use of ordinary discipline when it is needed.

The relevance of this to Chinnor’s teenage population both now and in the future is obvious but in addition to this more positive aim there is the more negative one of trying to create conditions for our adolescents which will minimise their exposure to the main social evils of violence, drug-taking, suicide and sexual promiscuity, particularly where this involves perversions. On the other hand normal sexual activity is an integral part of adolescence and for this reason we would be strongly against any attempt on grounds of expediency to create anything other than fully mixed facilities for Chinnor youth.

Thirdly, we should bear in mind that our adolescents will need to escape from the close proximity to their families which our open-plan housing will force on them. They are entitled to time and space to themselves (and their families also to relief from their more intrusive activities) and this may be just as much in order to do their school ‘prep’ as for playing ‘pop’ records.

The role of the Chinnor community in the immediate future, as we see it, is to delineate a space which is peculiar to the teenagers and in which they are free to create their own institutions and activities supervised by leaders who are trusted by both adults and the teenagers themselves. For reasons which we have given in he first part of the report the existing spaces (the village hall etc.) are either inadequate now or will shortly become so as the teenage and general population grows. While we must beware of providing too much so that it is taken for granted, a basic building which contains this space seems to us to be the fundamental requirement. Suitably sited and designed this already ensures that the adult community has been able to structure the future surroundings for its teenagers’ activities in a comparatively non-interfering way. It implies the community’s support and backing and allows the Parish Council (as the representatives of the community) an entrepreneurial role which still permits the teenagers to create their own institutions within this physical framework.

Unfortunately it is a fact that the common experience is that a formal Youth Club is only likely to attract about 40% of the teenage population, the remainder being full-time students or else capable of entertaining themselves independently. Among this 60% are also to be found the bulk of the juvenile offenders and recidivists and one job of a youth club is to attract these by providing the sort of activities (judo and boxing for instance) which might appeal to them. Nevertheless, to attract even 40% of the teenagers ‘at risk’ is worth doing and we suggest ways of catering for the remainder later on.

Thus we are recommending primarily that a purpose-built youth club is the most important provision to be made in the village during the next five or six years for our expanding teenage population and we next examine the practical implications of this in more detail.

Page 5 – Summary of the Plan’s Provisions

Jan 29th, 2012 | Filed under Chinnor Plan

a) Residential Development

The plan shows those areas for development for wihch planning permission has already been given, or which are unavoidably compromised in that it would be very difficult or unreasonable to refuse planning permission for their development. The areas for which planning permission has already been granted, and dwellings now under construction, will accommodate about 1200 people; unavoidably compromised land a further 500, giving an ultimate population in Chinnor of about 4,500 (see Table 6).

In order to secure a reasonably comprehensive road-layout, approximate lines for estate roads or points of access have been sketched onto the plan. It will be noted that some of these roads give access onto land which is not shown for development in the plan. This land may be required for local needs at some future date; the present plan can only look ahead to approximately 1981; it should not sterilize land which may be needed beyond that date.

b) Road Proposals

The County Road proposals include the realignment of B.4009 to by-pass Chinnor, and an approximate line is shown to the north of the village. It is hoped that a link with the Cement Works may be provided, so that the heavy works traffic can be excluded from the village streets.

c) Shops

There is no real shopping centre in Chinnor. Shops are scattered along the village’s main roads. The completion of the shops in Church Road will create a fair-sized centre there: other planning permissions for shopping development will given an overall provision of one shop for every 170 persons: this should be more than adequate for the future. In order to prevent the further development of sporadic shopping areas, now shops should be directed into the High Street area in future, preferably into the southern end of High Street, and a village centre built up there.

d) Public Buildings

The agreed primary school site off Station Road is shown, and a suggested site for an Infants School is indicated, should one be needed.

Negotiations are in progress for the reservation of a site for a Police Sergeant’s Station off Oakley Road, and the proposed site is shown on the plan.

Sites for a Branch Library and a Welfare Clinic are indicated adjacent to the Primary School and the Open Space in the centre of the village.

e) Car Park

A car park is shown at the junction of Thame Road with Lower Icknield Way; this will eliminate the parking of cars along Thame Road, which causes difficulty and danger of movement near the cross-roads.

Henton

It is recommended that planning permissions for residential development in Henton in the future should only be granted where there is a proven local need for the development. In such cases, dwellings should be sited in close visual relationship with existing buildings wherever possible.