.

.
Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.

2015-03-30

The Guardian: "Housing: are we reaching a tipping point?"


Link to web site

"When does a personal problem become society’s problem? How many people have to be in a situation before it ceases to be a source of shame and starts to become a spur to action? What’s the tipping point? These questions are thrown up by a new Shelter report, 'The Flyers and the Triers'.

The phrasing is diplomatic. The 'flyers' are defined as having 'made minimal sacrifices to buy a home, having received substantial financial and emotional support from family'. 'Triers', meanwhile, 'struggled for longer to buy a home (if they got there at all). They had less help, and had to rely more on their own efforts.' You could just as well call them the Minted and the Screwed, or go traditional: the Haves and the Have-nots. It is to the credit of the charity how tactful it remains in the face of such blanket evidence of systemic failure."





2015-03-29

Daily Telegraph: Good News on House Prices


Link to web site

"House prices in Britain have risen by 11pc since the last general election, driven by runaway price growth in London, the South East and East Anglia.

"Homeowners in central London have watched the value of their property jump 40pc under the leadership of the Conservative party, while values in Greater London rose 25.2pc and property prices in the South East have shot up 16.8pc since May 2010.

"... London house prices were 1.7 times that of the UK average when David Cameron came to power, the gap has now risen to 2.1 times. The average London house price was £290,200 at the time of the last election - which will now buy a small 2-bed flat in Wembley.

"International demand from investors, the families of overseas students studying in the South East, companies relocating offices and employees to the capital and wealthy domestic buyers have flocked to central London in the last five years, conspiring to create a global city rather than a UK capital."

2015-03-28

The Guardian: "Will Self on the meaning of skyscrapers – from the Tower of Babel to the Shard "


"Skyscrapers are all too evidently phallic symbols, monuments to capitalism and icons of hubris. Yet Will Self can’t help but love them. He explores their significance – from JG Ballard to Mad Men, and from ... [Brent Cross] to Dubai"

Link to web site

"Corrupt developers and their senatorial shills mill around in the Promenade Room, in the 1974 film 'The Towering Inferno'; their celebratory party has been abandoned and now they must fight to gain access to the scenic lifts scooting down the glassy flanks of the world’s tallest skyscraper. With blue-collar probity etched into every angle of his face, Chief O’Halloran sneers, 'Architects!' To which smooth Doug Roberts can only rejoin, 'Yeah, it’s all our fault.'

"Over the next three decades, and now in the new century, the bonfire of the vanities has never wanted for more fuel; the raising of one actual skyscraper is effectively twinned with the destruction of its cinematic doppelganger. Ballard’s 1981 novel 'Hello America' features an expedition mounted from Europe in 2114 to visit the ecologically ravaged remains of the former superpower; and which rediscovers the skyscrapers of Manhattan sticking out – like the bones of a dinosaur – from 100ft-high sand dunes. But Ballard’s fervid skill in conjuring up the sensation of silica on silicate was about to be eclipsed; Hollywood imagineers have a rapacious appetite for displaying the deluging, flaming, death-raying, exploding and otherwise laying waste to the central business districts of American cities.

" 'The Towering Inferno' is filmed with only closeups, mid- and long-shots; with the advent of CGI, it becomes possible – at least in theory – for disbelief to remain suspended high above the skyscrapers, an all-seeing eye that contemplates The Day After Tomorrow for its entire nauseating duration. But by creating the super-viewer – taller, faster and stronger than a collapsing skyscraper – the imagineers have simply reconfigured the problem at a different scale; now we are too big to experience our cities' destruction feelingly, just as before we were too small to inhabit them empathetically."

2015-03-27

opendemocracy.net: "Localism: a case of old friends re-united?"


"Looking at a set of recent planning outcomes across England: it’s clear that the localism agenda hasn’t tipped the balance in favour of grassroots communities. The same old names keep cropping up."

Link to web site

"... Our old friends in LB Barnet are still at it. They and their development partners, Barratt Metropolitan, have served Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) on the entire West Hendon community to make way for 2,000 new flats. Barratt Metropolitan and the council told a recent public inquiry that the orders were necessary, because it was 'unlikely' they could acquire the properties 'within a reasonable timescale' otherwise. They also claimed that the CPOs were 'in the public interest'. 

"The proposed clearances were 'critical' to West Hendon, as the area would 'benefit from additional spending power' from people moving into the new homes. Back in 2002, the council balloted residents on the scheme, and 75% were in favour. But a lot's changed since then.

"... Dan Knowles, a consultant speaking for local tenants, asked if a more recent ballot would have been similar to the one in 2002: he was concerned that that the council was using 15 year-old statistics to 'justify' current resident support. Knowles added:
"Considering the scheme contained a number of pledges no longer on offer, and approximately three times as many new build properties, would it be fair to suggest public opinion would not be in the council’s favour?"
"Martin Cowie, LB Barnet's assistant planning director, told the inquiry that the estate's current condition was 'not sustainable' into the long term. Some of the original promises made to the tenants have now been dropped – including rehousing everyone on the same site – due to the 'drastic and unforeseen economic downturn of the late 2000s'. But Mr Cowie insisted:
"Most of the pledges remain the same and will be met."
"(It should be noted that the council’s entire physical planning service has now been outsourced to Capita, giving rise to concerns about its commitment to defend resident interests against developers at inquiries such as this.)"

Sat 28 Mar: Our West Hendon - First Birthday



The Guardian: "Andrew Adonis and estate regeneration: some pros and cons"


"A leading Labour policy thinker has re-made the case for demolishing and rebuilding council-owned housing estates. But has he underplayed the drawbacks?"

Link to web site

"In general, people would prefer not to have their homes knocked down. You wouldn’t and neither would I. They would sooner not to be told to pack their bags and move out to make way for the wrecking ball, perhaps to some unfamiliar and quite distant neighbourhood where everyone’s a stranger. Often, they’d rather stay put even if their home is leaky, cold and overcrowded on a council estate that outsiders casually despise and they might not be all that keen on themselves.

"They might feel that way even if very sincere politicians have promised them a better, brand new replacement home in the same place as the one to be demolished, along with better streets, improved transport and new schools. The thing is, change can be a very risky thing. Who can be sure that it will turn out for the best?

"That is item number one on a long, forbidding list of problems with what is variously, sometimes euphemistically, called estate regeneration, rebuilding or renewal. This has now been reframed in the neat coinage of Labour policy thinker Andrew Adonis as the creation of 'city villages'.

"Adonis, a senior policy chief and minister under prime ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, has co-edited a collection of essays on the theme for the Institute for Public Policy Research. He wants building city villages to be 'a new urban movement', which he contends could go a long way to solving the housing shortage, especially in London."

Barnet Bugle: "BBC London News explains new housing at Sweets Way, Barnet, 26 March 2015"





2015-03-25

The Guardian: "On Sweets Way, Barnet, the great ignored are finding ways to assert themselves"


"Protests at a London housing estate show dissent is possible against the forces of privilege and finance"

Link to web site

" 'They think we’re a piece of furniture,' Kauthar says, her tone one of defiance and incredulity. 'We're not a sofa or a table, we’re actually human beings.' She oozes determination.

"Along with the rest of her community, Kauthar faces eviction from Sweets Way estate in Barnet, north London, because a tax exile wants to bulldoze their homes to make way for luxury homes. Oh, and 59 'affordable' homes, an Orwellian attempt to rebrand rents only the comfortably off can pay as something else.

"Kauthar is just 13 years old, a year-eight student who is also a resolute, charismatic protester. When her family were booted out of their home, they were relocated to a house with no hot water, leaving them to spend weeks bathing with the help of a kettle. But she isn't broken: far from it. 'We just want them to listen to us,' Kauthar says. 'We want them to come and be in our shoes because if they were in our shoes they would hate it. They’re living out a posh life and they’ve got money, but our parents didn’t choose to be in this situation'."

2015-03-24

Broken Barnet: "Sweets Way: another round of evictions, another occupation - and a visit from Russell Brand"


Link to Mrs Angry

"Greetings, friends from the MoD. Maybe use a proxy server, in future - slightly more discreet."


"As you will know, Mrs Angry has a pet theory about the curious, seemingly unstoppable sequence of extraordinary events, here in Broken Barnet: one that depends on a psycho-geographical interpretation of the world, charged with the power of a legacy our Tory politicians would rather deny, and destroy.

"Our history, and our heritage - [it is] the story of the people who have lived here, and left something that survives and defies, somehow, the new order of things in this borough: the selling of our land into bondage to profit, a hostage to market forces, and the easy prey of private development.

"The small rebellions which occur, from time to time, seem to take place in strategic points of the map of our borough. West Hendon, caught between Watling Street and the Welsh Harp: the occupation of the People's Library, Margaret Thatcher House, on the road that cuts across from Barnet to Finchley: the downfall of Brian Coleman, the occupation of the Bohemia, on the Great North Road ... and now on the same route, the evictions, and the occupation, of Sweets Way in Whetstone."

The Guardian: "Cycling near misses: 'You need ceaseless vigilance if you want to stay alive'"


"From close passes to road rage, the near misses experienced every day by those cycling on Britain’s city streets usually go uncounted and unanalysed. The Near Miss project enlisted the help of 1,700 cyclists to change that"

Link to web site

"For the past few months I’ve been leading the Near Miss project, which aims to gain a better understanding of the frequency and impact of cycling near misses and other non-injury incidents. The heart of the research has involved nearly 1,700 riders across Britain keeping a record of all trips and any incidents experienced on their chosen diary day.

"Cycling injuries are more common than they should be in the UK, but a regular commuting cyclist might only experience a slight injury once every decade, with a much lower chance of serious injury. I’ve been cycle commuting most days for nearly 10 years and I’ve had a couple of very minor bumps (a grazed knee, bruised ribs). They are minor cautionary tales rather than heart-stopping moments.

"The apparent discrepancy between the fear of cycling and actual injury figures has led to a lot of head-scratching. Why, when the real risk is so small, are people so reluctant to cycle? Why can’t they be rational and take into account the often substantial health benefits?"

[Reposted] Stewart Murray, Barnet Head of Planning [2015: now at GLA]: Memo after Day One of Planning Committee, November 2009


Key points I picked up, briefly:
  • Useability/purpose of Brent Linear Park
  • Impact on neighbouring town centres
  • Nature conservation (during and after construction)
  • STG traffic evidence at UDP inquiry?
  • A5 traffic impact and key junctions/neighbouring roads
  • UDP inspector’s comments about railway link
  • Alternative site selection for waste handling facility
  • Alternative site selection for rail freight facility and need, given Wembley facility
  • Policy flaws in waste handling facility designation
  • Consultation process pre-application
  • Displacement of local business and relocation difficulties
  • Code for Sustainability not set high enough
  • High blocks/density
  • Combined heat and power pollution and 140m stack. How tried and tested is gasification?
  • Modal shift targets – are they realistic?
  • Affordable housing – not sufficient and too many flats
  • Demand for family accommodation.

[Reposted from March 2011] Mr Reasonable: "Council Meeting Farce and the Private Army"


Link to 'Mr Reasonable'

"That was where I met some of the Private Army, security guards from a company called Met Pro Rapid Response, in black army style fatigues and padded jackets. I found their presence most intimidating.


"... Next up comes a breathless Craig Cooper - no, the Mayor has said you can't come in, even though we are all respectable residents, and we have been advised to do so by the police. What a total and utter mess, and a clear sign that democracy is not working in Barnet, even though the Mayor insists it is."

Oct 2009: Appeasement to the Brent Cross Developers (2010: Multiplex retires from the battleground early, leaving Hammerson alone)


"History will judge us kindly," Churchill told Roosevelt and Stalin at the Tehran Conference in 1943.

When asked how he could be so sure, he responded: "because I shall write the history."








Barnet Eye: "New Brent Cross Station - nailing the lie"


"I'm Richard. Click me."

"... Sadly, there is plenty that this Barnet press release doesn't clarify. In fact it raises more questions than it answers.

"Firstly, the station is not in Brent Cross shopping centre. It is over 1/4 of a mile from it (as the crow flies). What provision will there be for shoppers to traverse the A406 and M1 entrance to get from the shops to the station?

"There is also talk that the existing station at Cricklewood may have to shut as part of the scheme. This would be a major blow to the existing shops and High Street businesses."





2015-03-23

Chris Naylor: Barking & Dagenham's loss is Barnet's gain


"Trailblazers 2015: the Public Finance Top 50"
"This year, CIPFA and Public Finance are celebrating individuals with outstanding records in innovation. Given the public sector’s ongoing need to do more with less, role models adept at new thinking are increasingly required.

"The Top 50 Trailblazers profiled in our supplement are all extraordinary pioneers, possessed of the determination, diligence and creativity needed to do things differently.

"Our list is not ranked from first to last and nobody in our Top 50 put themselves forward in the hope of winning an award. All were nominated by their peers for providing an example, which we hope others will be inspired to follow."


[Reposted] Out-of-Town Brent Cross Shopping Centre: From congestion hell to, er, 'living bridge' and congestion hell?

(Click to enlarge images)
1996
(multi-storey car parks along all four sides;
plan finally rejected at appeal in 2002)


2011
(rest of 'town centre' plan abandoned indefinitely;
now just 'shops and leisure')

2014: There's been another redesign.


Link to:


Daily Telegraph: "The HS3 effect: What high speed rail in the North could do for your city" (sharing some infrastructure with HS2, no doubt)


Link to web site

"Derelict houses, boarded-up shops, and jobseekers leaving in droves to find employment. This was Liverpool in the late 1980s and early 1990s after the city was hit by the decline in manufacturing and port logistics were modernised.

"In more recent times, some vibrancy has returned to the centre, but it has been overshadowed as an inward investment centre by Manchester.

"Nearly 150 miles away, Hull – also reliant on maritime trade, and playing second fiddle to the leading Yorkshire city of Leeds – suffered a similar fate, with its property sector and investment market failing to fully recover after the most recent recession.

"Not only have these cities, along with Newcastle and Sheffield, fallen behind Manchester and Leeds economically but they are now incomparable to London and Birmingham in terms of inward investment.

"The Government’s plans to overhaul the North’s creaking railway infrastructure and build High Speed 3, unveiled on Friday, are at the heart of its long-term programme to create a “northern powerhouse”.

"But will the Chancellor’s overall, regional vision of a new high-speed railway across the Pennines, connecting Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle, address their specific needs?"

2015-03-19

[Reposted] London and Planning: the post-war experience


"Apart from things like atom bombs and so on, I'm quite satisfied"


"First transmitted in 1959, American reporter Ed Murrow returns to London where, during the war years, he had broadcast vivid descriptions of Britain during her 'finest and darkest hours, trying to report the suffering, the sacrifice and the steadiness of her people' to a listening world.

"This film features dramatic reports of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, which gave rise to his celebrated closing phrase 'Good night and good luck'. Murrow returned to London to examine 'what Britain has done with her years of victory'. He reports from London’s East End, which still bore the scars of the wartime raids, the London docks where dockers claim that taxing them for working on Sundays is 'the greatest liberty that’s been took by a worker in his life', and asks London’s younger generation what kind of world they would like to live in.

"'This is London...' on the brink of the 1960s, from where Murrow argues that post-war hopes for better health, better education, better housing and full employment are falling short of expectations."




"London's strength, and London's weakness, lies in it being a pattern of accidents - no great planner seized on London..."
 [certainly not at Brent Cross Cricklewood]


"First transmitted in 1964, this film charts how London has grown in size and spread into the surrounding country. Written and narrated by architectural critic Reyner Banham, 'A City Crowned with Green' describes the unique character of London as a capital city.

"Banham looks at how it has, from the time of Elizabeth I, defied the efforts of the planners to curb its growth, but he is alarmed by the urban sprawl.

"Is to too late to get back closer to the heart, and make London a city crowned with green?"


2015-03-18

Department for Communities and Local Government: "Budget measures will deliver thousands of homes and jobs"


Link to web site

"Hundreds of thousands of homes and jobs will be delivered through a package of measures announced in today’s Budget.

"Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the funding contained in the Chancellor’s statement will maintain the momentum gathered since 2010, which has seen housebuilding reach its highest annual level in seven years, planning permissions reach record numbers and thousands of jobs created.

"Getting work started on new homes on large sites"
"The government will lead on getting work started on 10,000 homes at Northstowe near Cambridge, by directly commissioning builders to get building. It’s expected that of the homes expected to be started by 2020, three quarters – 600 homes – will have been directly commissioned.

"The government will also invest £95 million in the regeneration of Brent Cross to help deliver 7,500 homes, 4.9 million square feet of commercial space and up to 27,000 jobs. The development of the area, led by Barnet Council and the Greater London Authority, will be further supported by ringfencing 50% of the business rate growth in that area for investing in the project."

HM Government: Desperate desire for investment at Brent Cross - published on 12 February 2015. Desperate desire to forget it - killed off five days later.



https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regeneration-project-brent-cross-cricklewood-gdv-5000m

"Details about the opportunity for international investors to provide investment for a large regeneration project [with corrupt outline planning consent] in the UK."





2015-03-17

Brent Cross railway station no longer a private sector provision: 'Capitalism on the way up, Socialism on the way down'


Link to Evening Standard

"George Osborne will press the accelerator in his Budget tomorrow on plans to tackle the capital’s housing shortage by building 400,000 homes.

The Evening Standard understands the key commitments will include:
  • The Mayor of London to be given new powers over 50 riverside wharves which are currently governed by Whitehall regulations, allowing City Hall to negotiate for new developments in consultation with Londoners.
  • A £97 million down-payment for a new station at Brent Cross which will help lead to the construction of 7,500 homes and support 27,000 jobs.
  • A £7 million injection of public money for the Croydon growth zone, aiming to create 4,000 homes and 10,000 jobs.
  • Funding worth £1 million for the new London Land Commission to help create a Domesday Book of surplus public sector land and brownfield sites that can be taken over for redevelopment."

2015-03-16

The Observer: "Britain’s housing crisis is a human disaster. Here are 10 ways to solve it"


"Rising house prices have been willed by public policy over decades. The fallout for families, communities and business has been severe"

Link to web site

" 'Every day I cry,' says an activist on a stall in Stratford, east London, that is shared by housing campaign Focus E15 and the Revolutionary Communist party. 'How many thousands of people are suffering?'

"Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, has said that problems with housing are the 'biggest risk' to the UK economy. The CBI agreed, saying: 'A perfect storm is brewing in the housing market. Now is the time for action.'

"If there is one thing that revolutionary communists and bankers can agree on, it is that there is a housing crisis in Britain. There are too few homes, usually costing too much, often in the wrong places, and often of poor quality. The crisis damages lives, breaks up families, blights employment prospects, reduces mobility and slows the economy.

"This, you would have thought, would be a gift for any political party. Housing is a matter of vital importance to voters. At a time when all parties struggle to offer alternatives to each other, this would be an opportunity to be distinctive and take the lead. Yet all the main parties' offerings on the subject are piecemeal, gestural and unambitious."

Mrs Angry: "Less than best, or: in a private space - the secret story of West Hendon" (Sharing Barnet's Supplementary Planning Framework with Brent Cross)


Link to Broken Barnet
(scroll down then)

"... [The missing] information was the viability report, the original basis for agreement between Barnet Council and Barratts in regard to the latest, bastardised version of what had originally been intended to be, many years previously under a Labour council, a genuine programme of regeneration, but has now become a massively profitable private development, using public land. Land which we know now to have been given away, not sold.

I say not sold: in fact that is unfair. Three parcels of land were bought for £1 each, for a site valued at the time as being worth more than £12 million.

This 'Poundland' deal secured for Barratts a unique opportunity for a private development on the edge of the beautiful Welsh Harp reservoir, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, fringed by open space, a sanctuary in the otherwise relentlessly urban landscape of this area of north west London.

A unique opportunity, of course, that has been achieved by default, or rather by stealth, smuggled through the gates of scrutiny like the Trojan horse, in the guise of a scheme meant to improve the local community, but which in fact will destroy that community, raze it to the ground, to be replaced by luxury housing, luring overseas investment or those fortunate few able to afford the non 'affordable' price of properties, and neatly facilitating the Tory agenda of gerrymandering the poorer, Labour voting areas of the borough out of existence.

How did we get to this point? We went into the process of the Inquiry knowing only that we did not know, well, what we did not know: the details of the agreement between Barnet and Barratts, and in particular the nature of the viability study. Requests for this information had always been rebutted, and now at the Inquiry, when the Inspector was asked to demand the release of the study, the consistent argument against doing so from Barnet and Barratts, a line stoutly maintained by their counsel, was that this information was not relevant.

At the same time, however, the developers and the local authority insisted the compulsory purchase order for the properties in West Hendon were absolutely essential to - ah, yes: the viability of the scheme."

2015-03-15

"Roads Were Not Built For Cars" - full text for the book



"Over the next 12 weeks every single word (all 170,000 of them) and every single chapter of Roads Were Not Built For Cars will be uploaded, for free. Click on the image above to open the preface and Chapter Two in click-flicky mode. To download the chapter as a PDF, open in full-screen mode and hit the share arrow – choose the download option. 

"If you like what you see please consider buying the book. It is available in a number of paid-for formats: print , iPad, Kindle and ePub. Note: the second edition print versions – softback and hardback – are due for publication in mid-April, with pre-ordering available from Island Press."


Reviewers have been positive in their praise for the book:

Edmund King, President, Automobile AssociationEdmund King,
President, Automobile Association
“This fascinating insight into the origin of roads will break down some road ownership issues, and help promote harmony for all road users whether on four wheels or two.”
 

Professor David Cox OBE, Chair of Council, CTCProfessor David Cox OBE,
Chair of Council, CTC
“Roads Were Not Built For Cars is a major and original piece of work, and a significant contribution to social history. It is also an underpinning for current debates about the urban realm.”


Sam Jordison, The GuardianSam Jordison,
The Guardian 
"... closely argued, meticulously researched … [this] book is also a treasure trove of curious trivia and arcane detail. [The] iPad edition puts [publishing] professionals to shame, featuring lovely use of video, a wealth of images, clever 3D models, and even a 19th-century ditty about speeding cyclists.


Richard Peploe, Road.ccRichard Peploe,
Road.cc
“… a reassuring amount of research has gone into the book … [is is] an essential reference … ... 9/10.


Brian Palmer, thewashingmachinepost.netBrian Palmer,
thewashingmachinepost.net "...when all's said and done, I don't really care why you buy a copy of this book, whether it's on paper or in pixels, but buy it you must ... [it is] a major triumph ... for each and every cyclist the world over."
 

Rosie Bell, hurryupharry.orgRosie Bell,
hurryupharry.org
"Roads Were Not Built For Cars is a polemic shot through with a sense of injustice for the written out and colonised – the literally marginalised literally pushed in the gutter when they had literally paved the way for the motorist – [yet] it could be enjoyed by Jeremy Clarkson."


Laura Laker, Cycling WeeklyLaura Laker,
Cycling Weekly
“Well-written and thoroughly researched with fascinating insights from primary sources ... 10/10.


Hans Hans "No Way" Rey,
via Twitter
“Interesting read … City councils should take note.


Nick Clayton, cycle historian, Veteran-Cycle Club newsletterNick Clayton,
cycle historian, Veteran-Cycle Club newsletter
"This volume is the cycle history dissertation for our age … [with] fascinating snippets not noted elsewhere … Whenever a new character or event [is introduced] it is seamlessly related to other players in the story and what may start as a diversion turns out to add flavour, knowledge and enlightenment ... Readers interested in the history of the motorcar will be similarly hooked ... None of the old cycling myths are regurgitated; the prose and proof-reading are beyond reproach and Nicola King’s indexing is immaculate … I cannot recommend this book more highly."
 

David Henshaw, A to B MagazineDavid Henshaw,
A to B Magazine
“Roads Were Not Built For Cars is something of a bicycling Ben Bur ... [and also an] entertaining exploration of the early days of motoring ...” David Henshaw. A to B Magazine, December 2014.


Leslie Reissner, Pezcyclingnews.comLeslie Reissner,
Pezcyclingnews.com
" ... exceptionally well-researched … a fascinating story …[an] important book … describing the development of much of the world we see outside our doors … Roads Were Not Built for Cars ... can be said to break new ground in cycling history, [and] shows us not only the highway from the past but also how we might want to consider how we view the future.


Dr. Robert Davis, Road Danger Reduction ForumDr. Robert Davis,
Road Danger Reduction Forum
"This book is a lot more than a dry history of road building … it fascinates with a steady stream of revelatory contemporary views on who those roads were for. As such it is … a contribution to the debates we should be having now on transport policy.


Richard Peploe, Velo VisionRichard Peploe,
Velo Vision
"I don’t believe that there has ever been a more thorough explanation of firstly why roads are now seen as being purely for transport use; secondly why the needs of motor transport have priority over any other consideration; and thirdly the role that bicycles have played ... This book ... gives hope that things can change ... Looking to the future, the book questions whether motorways ... could eventually suffer the same fall from grace as railways if they become less relevant: it might seem inconceivable now, but this book reminds us that transport priorities can and do change, along with the building works required to support them."

2015-03-14

Planning Resource: London Borough of Ealing: "Councils 'being bamboozled' by viability reports"


"Some councils are being 'bamboozled' by viability issues and are failing to get a good deal from developers, the head of regeneration at a London borough has said"


"Speaking at the MIPIM property fair in Cannes, Pat Hayes, executive director of regeneration and housing at the London Borough of Ealing, said some councils were being 'bamboozled' by viability reports:
"In the area around viability studies on affordable housing, some local authorities are still incredibly naïve and are still driven occasionally by the nose."

I think we’ve got to be pushing back and challenging some of the assumptions that are used around current viability discussions for example and effectively saying, ‘Look, we know what you paid for the land, we know what you’ll make from the land, we don’t really care about existing use value, what we care about is the delivery of a good scheme, and we will set the affordable housing target accordingly and we will set requirements for whether it's infrastructure, whether it's public realm, accordingly'.

I think often we get bamboozled by formulas and things and we’ve got to be much more dynamic in how we approach that."
"Hayes also said that councils should also be 'more sophisticated' in pre-planning discussions 'in terms of really giving a steer to developers in terms of what we want and what we're looking for'. He continued:
"Some authorities are still hands off and say ‘bring me another one, I don’t like that one’. We should be saying this is what we want, this is what we want to do and we’ll help you deliver it and I that’s the key to it."
"Elsewhere, Hayes said that London boroughs should act more like cities and have confidence in themselves to attract inward investment:
"The big thing for Ealing certainly and I think for London as a whole is that we are big places in our own right. Ealing, if it was outside London, would be one of the major cities in the country. We’ve got to think like a major city and act like a major city.

We've got to get out of the mindset that many of us have which is that we’re just here to regulate the planning process. We’re not just here to regulate the planning process, we’re here to change the place and to create better places and certainly the progressive boroughs like ourselves we see ourselves as being agents to bring inward investment."

opendemocracy.net: "Sweets Way evictions: building community in resistance"


"As a housing estate is evicted in Barnet, a community is brought together in resistance"

Link to web site

"Liam ran rapidly through the story of the estate: the MoD sold it to a company called Annington in 1996, he told me. Now, everyone's being evicted. He'd found out through Facebook, and rushed there with some friends. When they got there, the people on the estate – also mobilised through Facebook - had come out of their houses and were talking to each other, sometimes for the first time. There were tears and anger at the way they were being treated.

"As they came together, though, as they discussed their situations with their neighbours and met those who had resisted occupations elsewhere in London, they realised they could do something. They marched round the corner to Barnet Homes, where security guards braced themselves against the revolving doors. It had been half term, Liam told me, and so much of the protest was made up of children. Eventually, a delegation of them got to meet with the agency.

...

"... Wandering around, people said the same things. The houses were perfectly good – double glazed, good insulation, no damp, a garden each and plenty of green space. The locals liked living here. Now, people kept saying, the largely empty estate is scary at night."



Link to Twitter

Brent Cross Shopping Centre: Opening Hours, and Spring Beauty Fix Offers



"Brent Cross Spring Beauty Fix is coming to the mall on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 March 2015.

"This is your chance to get up to speed with the latest spring beauty trends!

"Expect beauty demos, giveaways, discounts and competitions all weekend. [We're expecting, we're expecting!]

"Stay tuned... more details and a list of discounts will be revealed soon. Offer ends on 28th March 2015"

[We lied about the Opening Hours.]

2015-03-11

motoring.co.uk: "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em"


Vroom to the web site

"Take a long hard look at the photograph above. That's your future. Can’t see yourself as one of those on a bicycle? In that case you’ll be the one stuck behind them in your car.

"Cities are back in fashion, and pretty much all of the experts agree that most people on this finite planet of ours will be living cheek by city jowl with many others within a generation. The urban motorway, like Watney's Red Barrel, is a relic of the 1970s. There will be no new roads bulldozed through any British city. We've got to sweat the existing assets and that means squeezing a growing number of people down the same highways.

"No city on earth believes the answer to future mobility is more cars. Whether you like it or not, the future will see ever greater restrictions on the use of privately owned motor cars in central business districts."

2015-03-10

[Reposted] Building: "Brent Cross Cricklewood first phase plans submitted" (as Hammerson regrets ever being involved in the quagmire)



"Developers behind £4.5bn plans to redevelop north-west London’s Brent Cross Shopping Centre and regenerate the wider Cricklewood area have submitted a detailed planning application for a first phase of work.

Hammerson and Standard Life Investments’s plans for the first phase include shopping-centre related infrastructure, new sports pitches, tennis courts, a cafe, pavilion and changing rooms for Clitterhouse Playing Fields, and 47 replacement homes [built on green spaces] for residents being moved from the [210-home demolished] Whitfield Estate as part of the regeneration scheme.

The developers have agreed a commercial deal with Barnet Council for the shopping centre’s transformation, but are in the process of exiting its ownership of the wider regeneration scheme. [There are other, less polite ways of putting that.]

The authority expects to announce a development partner for this 350-acre brownfield portion of the scheme later this year.

The whole project is earmarked for 7,500 new homes, three new schools, a new cinema, a leisure centre, a health centre, a new train station on the Thameslink line, and a new bus station, and the transformation of the shopping centre itself.

The first phase also covers the transformation of Claremont Open Space into a new community park, and the creation of a new Brent Riverside Park south of Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Development director Mike McGuinness said the project’s early works would see 'significant investment' into green spaces, while investment in transport infrastructure would 'hugely improve' local roads and junctions. He said:
"After so many years in the planning, we are looking forward to making good our promises about community benefit and if consent is granted [what do you mean, "if"?], we intend to start work in the summer of 2016."
The [1996] Brent Cross Cricklewood project originally received planning permission in 2010 and an updated planning permission was approved in July 2014.

Hammerson said it expected Barnet Council to make an enabling compulsory purchase order in the coming weeks to secure the land, interests and rights required for the first phase of regeneration.

It said the full process was likely to take 15-18 months and that a start on site was anticipated in 2017 for completion in 2020/21."

Nick Gavron, London Assembly Member: "Assembly calls on Mayor to stop ignoring tall buildings issue"



"The London Assembly Planning Committee yesterday wrote to the Mayor calling on him to tackle the proliferation of tall buildings dramatically altering London and its skyline.

"I've written before on this blog about the tall buildings issue, which has been the subject of heated debate since the NLA exhibition 'London’s Growing Up!' last spring found that there are 236 more in the development pipeline. Despite the growing chorus of voices - from campaigners, from the London Assembly, and from citizens - calling on the Mayor to address the issue, he has steadfastly refused to even admit that there is a problem.

"The letter from the Committee, which I chair, lays out the evidence from experts in the fields of engineering, architecture, and heritage about the impacts of this unmanaged phenomenon. We then call on the Mayor to:
  • Establish a ‘skyline commission’ to advise on the design impact of tall buildings
  • Adopt more detailed and rigorous master planning in relation to tall buildings, especially within Opportunity Areas
  • Draw up a London Plan policy that formalises the ‘clusters’ policy for tall buildings
  • Undertake a review of existing protected views, with the intention of adding new viewing corridors
  • Support the development of a fully interactive 3D computer model of London’s emerging skyline
  • Adopt a requirement for all developers with proposals for tall buildings to consider other building configurations.
"The evidence base presented to the Mayor will make it difficult for him to ignore. Our solutions are also proportional and realistic - recognising the contribution that tall buildings can make to the city, whilst being designed to prevent the worst excesses that do nothing more than act as safety deposit boxes for rich, often international, investors."