October 19, 2012

The residents of York don’t seem terribly happy about the proposed location of art loving Robert Hiscox’s North of England operations in their fair city.

Hiscox is threatening to create 500-odd jobs in England’s least racially mixed city (Anglo-Danish to a man) with a new North of England office in York’s Hungate district. But locals are not happy. They claim Hiscox paid the council too little for the old ambulance station site (currently a makeshift car park) on which the new offices will stand alongside the timber-framed Black Swan pub and a vast new residential development.

After the local paper aired an artist’s impression of the boxy commercial-modern stone-glass-and-metal clad edifice intended to house 300 Hiscox staff alongside a new 262 bedroom hotel, locals reacted furiously. “Hideous” and “inappropriate, unimaginative and totally incongrous” were typical comments. Experts rushed to join the clamour: “Appalling and out of context” was the damning verdict from restoration man Kevin Turvey.

Alarmed, perhaps, by the artists impression’s depiction of casually disheveled overweight men in lounge suits spilling out on to York’s historic streets from the new development, locals scrambled over one another to denounce the plans in the (web)pages of the local paper, branding Hiscox “greedy profit-grabbing capitalists” and calling for the District Auditor and/or the European Commission to be brought in to examine the supposedly shady deal that had paved the way for the blighting of this precious corner of semi-derelict urban wasteland.

Hiscox chairman, Bob Hiscox was quick to distance himself from the offending images, insisting that “this is not the final design” and that Hiscox has “not begun discussing the architectural style with the developers and will be consulting with local planners to ensure it is worthy of York.” A separate consideration might be whether York is worthy of Hiscox, a hugely successful and well-respected firm, recently voted one of the best companies in the UK to work for.

Whether or not the “within five years” timetable posited for the opening of Hiscox’s new offices will prove achievable remains to be seen. But just supposing Hiscox should end up concluding that its presence is not entirely welcome in snooty old York, Bankstone News can warmly recommend a possible alternative destination. Charmingly run-down former mill town Brighouse is conveniently located just off the M62 and boasts b*gger all alongside which any daringly high-concept carbuncle Bob H might care to erect could possibly compare unfavourably. Brighouse is ready and waiting to welcome Hiscox with arms wide open!

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Top image copyright Google


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