I had a quick look at the church dedicated to St Peter and St Paul; you cannot miss it as it dominates the centre of the village. This Friday afternoon was beautiful and sunny and the centre of Borden looked attractive under a bright blue spring sky. I arrived mid afternoon to learn that that the children from the primary school were to have a service there which meant that I could not go in and wave the camera around but I was content to take pictures of the church once they were all inside.
Borden churchyard is always attractive and in the sunshine it gleamed. As is usually the case in Kent villages there is a pub opposite itself looking glorious complete with car park at the rear and boards outside declaring the wares. I took a stroll around the village, had a look at the millennium gardens and the playing fields. The parish council has installed, in addition to the children’s playground, exercise apparatus for adults, which is a good idea.
I discovered the picnic area and learned of the reserve close by. A chance meeting with Parish Councillor Peter Page enlightened me to the fate of the reserve which is evidently soon to be worked on. I was told about the resistance to its upheaval and how it should go and hopefully will be done. I was told about the wildlife that was there and it seemed to me the upheaval is a bit too ambitious for the sake of what seems to be a cosmetic change instead of simply a necessary attempt to relieve the problem of random gas escapes from what was a former tip. You could say it was typical of the long term effects of a short term solution. Land fills were always going to be problem in the future especially when tipping is not controlled or restricted and solving the problem is always difficult.
The pressure on the area to provide land for housing also kicks in and I guess the provision of a ‘pretty’ reserve area will make it possible for developers to grab yet more land for building. Witness the lack of gaps between Sittingbourne and Kemsley and the encroaching building around Iwade. I cannot help thinking that the Monty Python guys had it right with the castle in The Holy Grail – you build one on marshland, it sinks, build another one on top, that sinks and you repeat the process until one stays up. The essence is to build and keep building – stupid but seems to be the way.
I walked around the picnic area and saw a peaceful and pretty place. I also learned about the blacksmith’s forge and how it was recently refurbished and will be turned into a museum and meeting place with information about the walks around Borden, the history of Borden and at times the forge perhaps put into use.
I suppose that like all villages surrounding townships in Kent there is this sort of developer’s jealousy that will make them feel as they are deprived of a chance to make a profit. The residents themselves will often see their own community under threat of disruption and look at places on the edge of the town where houses have been built and see an ugly, monotonous, crowded area that has as little character as a caravan site, or a sprawling area of two story houses marching over the hills toward them, the threat of increased traffic, overused amenities and a loss of that essential green belt. On the other side the development – leaving the developers out of it – is welcome to those who need a place to live, and to those who are struggling to keep the places they are already in. The sharing of costs with the newcomers, the projected industry interest and employment plus the chance to stay where they want to live is a boon, a bonus and a necessary development for the region.
The trouble is that small villages such as Borden become absorbed into the whole and lose some of their community spirit. Maybe it is only the well off who can afford to live there, some of the listed buildings are like money sink holes, and maybe it is the farming community surrounding them that is essential too and therefore we cannot afford to build willy-nilly but need to realise that affordable and social housing is needed as well as perhaps to attract a few more high earners who want a rural retreat. I am not one to condone housing elitism but I do sympathise with those who want the rural retreat and are willing to pay for it are entitled to realise their needs.
Mind you, it would be nice to find a cheap bungalow there and move in with my cat, writing, painting and disgusting habits. The village is beautiful and I would want it to stay that way.