According to plans filed with Hackney Council last week, the old car park opposite Shoreditch’s Tea Building is set to become the site of Britain’s newest hamlet. Can a 150,000 square-foot urban retail development qualify as a rural idyll? Given that developers Ellis Miller have dubbed it ‘Shoreditch Village’, apparently it can. We tested this claim by comparing Shoreditch to Epping Forest’s Theydon Bois: thrice voted Essex’s Best Kept Village.
Theydon Bois: Two butchers, a baker and a bookshop, plus a post office.
Shoreditch: The blurb for Shoreditch Village threatens ‘edgy, aspirational stores that typify the streets and culture of Shoreditch’. Tut! Hardly the stuff of ‘The Archers’.
Theydon Bois: The Bull is Theydon Bois’s oldest pub. It has log fires and many exposed timber beams.
Shoreditch: The Golden Heart. This is nothing like a village pub: it’s full of the same old faces who haven’t left the area in years. Actually, it’s exactly like a village pub.
Theydon Bois: The village hall is the meeting place for the WI, the District Rural Preservation Society and other genteel local groups.
Shoreditch: Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club boasts lounge nights, vintage rock ’n’ roll sessions and fancy-dress burlesque parties. So just as many parochial interest groups as you’d expect of a village. But with more nipple tassles.
Theydon Bois: No official figures were available. But given the kidnappings and habitual violence depicted in ‘Emmerdale’ and the murder rate of Midsomer, it could be like downtown Johannesburg.
Shoreditch: Bike theft and the odd stabbing. Kids’ stuff.
Call Country Life! Tell them to hold the front page! We’ve got a new village on our hands! Who are we kidding? The jury’s still out…