Second post for the sixteenth: more on shops

This should have been posted last month.

Then, in the usual press resource, a series of articles went completely unnoticed by yours truly, outlining some truly phantasmagoric facts about retail planning. Meanwhile, Herttoniemi (image below), in the eastern suburbs of this beautiful city, prepares for its share of Finland’s hectares of shopping aisles. The prefixes super, hyper and mega will not suffice to capture the essence of what is to come here. It will be a giga-market.


But from the article a few nuggets merely: 5,24 million square metres floor space is in the pipeline. According to the Environment Ministry (as reported by our trusty source of information, HS) of the 196 projects surveyed, one fifth were contrary to current valid development plans either at local or regional level (“maakuntakaava” or “seutukaava”). 45% of them are outside town centres (which means towns, in fact, when you try to visualise in your mind what the average Finnish town might be). And yes, dear reader, there are regulations similar to the UK’s town-centre-first policies here too to assess and mitigate the deleterious consequences of allowing the big retailers to rule the roost.

A box attached to the article observes coolly that despite both expert advice to the effect that large retail developments have significant negative impacts on local neighbourhoods, and the simple fact of plans being progressed in defiance of existing legislation, “city leaders” are strongly behind all the projects. We get a nugget of TINA-fundamentalism too, in the words of one, for whom major development is “the only chance to secure local people’s well-being” and so there’s no point in invoking the spectre of corruption. The article doesn’t make it clear who had invoked it and why.

It is hard not to speculate on the reasons why Finns seem so utterly uninterested in campaigning around shops and retail (and I suppose I already had a stab at it earlier in this blog). Certainly they are mostly unaware of the huge interest in the English-speaking world in curbing the excesses, both commercially speaking and in terms of destroying landscapes, of out-of-town retail. One can only assume that the idea of a website – nay several websites – devoted to dead shopping malls never did occur to them. Hey Finland, I got news for you: it’s on wikipedia therefore it exists.

Here endeth today’s posting.

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