Old Kiln Lakes

Apr 26th, 2011 | Filed under Uncategorized

This weekend, my brother and I went off to explore the new development currently being built in the village in which I grew up.

It stands on the site of the old cement works, closed in 2000 and demolished in 2008 or thereabouts. Most of the site is currently just a chalk wasteland, with the exception of the first two streets:

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Anyway, that’s not where our day started.. The day actually started with us exploring along the footpath that runs through the quarry. Of course, we would never dream of actually entering the quarry itself, because trespass is wrong, even when simply in the pursuit of knowledge in such a way that harms nobody. And because we weren’t going to enter the quarry, of course, it wasn’t in any way disappointing to discover that an eight foot fence has been erected at the single entry point:

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Every other way in involves a steep cliff made of crumbling chalk, so it doesn’t entirely surprise me that they’ve boarded this way up. And posted 24/7 security there. I can only assume that the company that bought the land feels disinclined to invite liability for accidents had by teenagers going for a swim in the lake:

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So I had a bit of a chat to the security guard, who seemed to think we might be wanting to get in. Which we didn’t, on account of how vaulting a huge fence to see something we’ve already seen isn’t really worth it. The plan all along was to assess whether it’d be possible to get in, and go from there. Anyhow, the security guard did mention that he’d stopped a whole lot of kids from getting in that weekend, and mentioned some sort of risk of injury in the event of trying to climb over the fence.

But hey, who cares? Been there, seen that.. So instead, we wandered down to the new development itself, to see what was going on there. As these shots illustrate, not much, and certainly nothing in the way of landscaping yet:

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We paid a visit to the Visitors Centre type thing (basically, where they try to flog you very expensive houses), where I quickly abandoned any pretense at being a potential buyer on account of how I couldn’t contain my opinion of how over-priced everything was.. So instead, we just thumbed through the information book they had there, which contained all the initial studies into the viability of the development.

Edited highlights are that the majority of the site is going to be landscaped, with footpaths throughout to take you between different “attractions” (ranging from the nature reserve at the southern end to the scientifically significant chalk strata at the north end). There’ll be a small landfill area in the far south-west corner, in an area that was already used for dumping when the site was industrial. The upper quarry is going to be preserved as a site of special scientific interest due to the visibility of the chalk strata, but will presumably be very difficult to get into. I’m guessing they’ll probably block up the tunnel, which is the only way to get in at the bottom level.

Interestingly, the reports recommend the removal of any lifesaving equipment around the lakes. At present, there are life ring things strategically positioned, even though the official line is that nobody should be in there in the first place. They’re acknowledging that people will get in, and doing what they can to help, and I like that. But in future, the report deems that providing lifesaving equipment only encourages the view that the water is safe to enter.

Which of course is bull. The water looks safe to enter, and on a hot day who wouldn’t want to sneak into a secluded quarry and dive into the lake? Nobody is going to think “Aha, no safety equipment, this probably isn’t safe” because there would be a natural presumption that that sort of equipment wouldn’t be on hand in the first place. Nobody breaks in somewhere to find that everything has been set up perfectly for them, so in turn, nobody breaking into the quarry is going to react to the fact that there’s no lifesaving equipment there.

I just think they’ve moved from a pragmatic approach concerning safety to an idealist approach concerning behavioural modification. It’ll end in tears.

Anyway, the reports were good fun to read.. And we got to see what the whole thing is going to look like when finished:

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It actually looks kind of nice. Modest sized development in a large landscaped plot, with natural lakes and a nature reserve. By the end of it, the price tag didn’t seem so extortionate after all..

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