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Norman Plastow interview: Changes in Wimbledon

There haven't been as many changes as there might have been. It's a pity that various things have gone - local shops where you could browse around and find all sorts of weird and wonderful things. They've been replaced in the Village by shops selling luxury goods simply because the rents are so high that you couldn't run a grocer's or a butcher's in the Village because you couldn't get enough customers through the door to make it pay. When a customer comes through the door you have to sell them £500 worth of goods to make it pay. If you are a butcher and you sell them a joint of meat you can't get enough customers in and sell enough joints of meat to pay the rent. That's why all these things have disappeared. It's just not feasible any more.

Traffic of course there have been massive changes from the days when you had a few cars and could go anywhere and do anything - it's inevitable and applies everywhere.

One of the pities now is the fact that the changes which are taking place are fakes. New houses are going up all over the place but they are pastiche. People think that if you have a conservation area and the houses there are Victorian or Edwardian, and if you pull them down and put up a fake Victorian or Edwardian house you are keeping the conservation area. But you are not, you are destroying it utterly.

The only conservation area with a variety of buildings is the Village High Street. You already have buildings there from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

It is very sad that this is happening. I'm seeing it from an architectural point of view but in the past this didn't happen.

If you know anything about church architecture you can go into a church and say this began in the 12th century there are still the remains, and then in the 13th century they did that, in the 14th century that, the 15th century that. You can tell because as they progressed they had new ideas and new methods of construction. They used them straight away and you can date it to within a very short period. They never faked things. But pastiche started in the 19th century and now it's all pastiche. There are one or two houses which are completely new and often they are overdone. But just having a vernacular architecture of the period really doesn't exist.

Any improvements since you were young?

I can't think of any.