.

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

2014-12-31

"Boris Johnson's Penthouses for Oligarchs in Barnet's West Hendon - Russell Brand Trews Video Report"


(West Hendon is part of the same 'Supplementary Planning Guidance' of Barnet Council as Brent Cross.)


"John Rogers reports from West Hendon in the London Borough of Barnet, where residents on an estate are being evicted after the local council handed the land to Barratt Homes for the building of a new private development.

"Shot and edited by John Roger.

"Subscribe to Trews Reports http://bit.ly/1yZHIzh

"If you have something you think should be covered on Trews Reports send an email to trewsreports@gmail.com."





Link to Public Inquiry details

The London Borough of Barnet (West Hendon Regeneration Area) Compulsory Purchase Order No 1 2014

Section 19(1)(b) of and Paragraph 6(1)(a) of Schedule 3 to, The Acquisition of Land Act 1981
"Following notice of the Secretary of State’s intention to hold a local public inquiry (letter dated 5th September 2014) and in accordance with Rule 7 of the Compulsory Purchase (Inquires Procedure) Rules 2007, SI 2007 No.3617, the Council has placed on deposit the documents which it intends to refer or put in evidence at the Inquiry.

"By a letter dated 26 November 2014, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government gave notice of his instruction to his Inspector to hold a joint public local inquiry in relation to the above. The Inquiry will sit for 8 days from Tuesday 20 to Friday 23 January 2015; and Tuesday 27 to Friday 30 January 2015."

The Guardian: "We all love [Brent Cross] Marks & Spencer – but not enough to buy its clothes


"The British legacy brand’s mid-market recipe of value for money is a dud in a world of bottomless yearning for something new"

Link to web site

"...M&S was the perfect setting for Margaret Thatcher’s political personality. But it was more than that. Its story is a rags-to-riches fairytale of refugees, hardship, tragedy (both Marks and Spencer died young) endeavour and triumph. Seiff was Marks's grandson. During the second world war M&S staff clubbed together and paid for a Spitfire. It’s hard to think of a more effective way of buying into modern Britain’s foundation myth.

"It was good for Thatcher, and the Thatcher years were the magic and sparkle years for M&S. The brand was a byword for Britishness and British-made quality goods. It was the place where the customer was always, but always, right. If you could produce the receipt you could return the goods, no matter how long ago you bought them. It took no credit cards. Borrowing! Pfff! It had nearly 50,000 employees, no trade unions, a workers’ profit-sharing scheme, and chiropody as part of the contract.

"But M&S created its own force-field so successfully that it failed to notice how fast the world was changing."

2014-12-30

Daily Telegraph: "From Russia's economic collapse, the threat of deflation, and another year of record low interest rates: Here's how crisis beset the world economy once again"


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11301059/How-the-world-fell-back-into-economic-meltdown-2014-in-charts.html
Link to web site

"2014 did not prove to be the year the world roared back to the path of recovery. Global economic output grew by just 3.3pc, an expansion that was dubbed by the IMF's chief economist as 'mediocre and worse than forecast.'

"The outlook for 2015 doesn't look much better. The probability of the world falling back into recession - defined as GDP growth of 2pc or less - is only around one in 100, but much higher for the advanced world according to the Fund. The IMF thinks there is now a four in 10 chance the eurozone area will slip back into its third recession since the financial crisis next year.

"This raft of bad news has led many academics and observers to put weight behind the theory that the ageing west is now facing a period of 'secular stagnation' characterised by persistently weak demand and almost non-existent growth.


2014 also saw the debate about capitalism and its discontents come to the fore with the work of 'rockstar' economist Thomas Piketty.

"The Frenchman saw his book, Capital in the 21st Century become a New York Times bestseller and generate argument and counter-argument about the dynamics of wealth distribution in modern capitalism.

"The chart above, based on calculations from Piketty and his colleague Emmanuel Saez, has been described as the most important chart of the year. Produced by economist Pavlina Tcherneva, it shows that for most of the post-war period, the income gains from economic expansion went to the bottom 90pc of the population in the United States.

"In the last three decades however this trend has switched to the extent that almost all of the income growth has been captured by the top 10pc of the US population."



The ten biggest threats to the global economy
(Daily Telegraph, Oct 2014)


Five issues that will make – or break – the world economy in 2015
(The Observer)


The Guardian: "Londoners miss out as homes built as 'safe deposit boxes' for foreign buyers"


"Ten investors own sites for 30,000 homes, data shows, with interest from Abu Dhabi and China in Hyde Park site"

Link to web site

"More than a quarter of the homes in large developments of over 1,000 units in the capital are being built by foreign investors, according to data provided to the Guardian by Molior Consulting.

" 'There is a huge concern,' said Joan Ruddock, MP for Lewisham Deptford, where Hong Kong-listed conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa is behind plans for 3,500 homes. 'This is global capitalism and we have to find a way around it. There have to be some tougher controls about the balance between housing for the more well off and affordable housing, and I mean genuinely affordable. The capital will not be sustainable unless people in the public services can afford to live here. We are pricing them out.'

...

"... 'There is a perception these major residential developments backed by international money, particularly in super-high towers, only serve a market for overseas investors who want to buy a luxury flat in a skyscraper to treat as a safety deposit box,' said Nicky Gavron, the former deputy mayor of London and chair of the London assembly’s planning committee. 'Such properties often become buy-to-leave investments and don’t meet the needs of Londoners. London is in the midst of a housing crisis – what we need is mixed-income housing where people actually live.'

"... Richard Blakeway, London’s deputy mayor for housing, land and property, defended the scale of foreign investment. 'With London facing unprecedented growth, foreign direct investment, together with traditional institutional finance, is helping to unlock developments that have stalled for many years, allowing thousands more homes to be built for Londoners far sooner than would otherwise be possible,' he said."





New John Lewis Brent Cross car park
(Fenwick Brent Cross car park behind)

2014-12-29

[Reposted from June 2014] Brent Cross Shopping Centre: Tumbleweed by 2020?


Link to The Guardian

"It is hard to believe there has ever been any life in this place. Shattered glass crunches under Seph Lawless’s feet as he strides through its dreary corridors. Overhead lights attached to ripped-out electrical wires hang suspended in the stale air and fading wallpaper peels off the walls like dead skin.

"... Dying shopping malls are speckled across the United States, often in middle-class suburbs wrestling with socioeconomic shifts. Some, like Rolling Acres, have already succumbed. Estimates on the share that might close or be repurposed in coming decades range from 15 to 50%. Americans are returning downtown; online shopping is taking a 6% bite out of brick-and-mortar sales; and to many iPhone-clutching, city-dwelling and frequently jobless young people, the culture that spawned satire like Mallrats seems increasingly dated, even cartoonish.

According to long-time retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, numerous mid-market malls, many of them born during the country's suburban explosion after the second world war, could very well share Rolling Acres' fate:
"They're going, going, gone. They’re trying to change; they're trying to get different kinds of anchors, discount stores … [But] what’s going on is the customers don’t have the fucking money. That's it. This isn’t rocket science."

Link to The Guardian

"Ah, the Elysian fields of Brent Cross, I remember them well. I turned 18 a few months before Britain's first shopping mall opened, on a motorway interchange on the way to Hendon. I remember the first thrill of unfulfilled consumption as I approached.

"I spent a staggering amount of time there as a teenager, next to the brown marble fountains outside Fenwicks, desperately trying to persuade myself that it was more interesting than it actually was. I'm not sure I succeeded, and now it seems – on both sides of the Atlantic – most of us are also failing to persuade ourselves. We are beginning to awake from the great mall dream.

"That seems to be the message of a new book of photos of these empty leviathans by the American photographer Seph Lawless, dusty and crumbling, with dead ornamental trees at the foot of abandoned escalators. The first year since the 1950s with no new shopping malls in the US was 2007, and that was before the crash.

"We are behind the trend in the UK, but not far. Surprise figures last autumn showed that shopping centres and out-of-town malls are declining faster than high streets. Retail Gazette in the UK has warned that 'there is a danger that larger spaces will turn into empty buildings, with only tumbleweed passing through them'. It wasn't what we expected."


Future car-based expansion
for out-of-town
Brent Cross shopping centre!

2014-12-22

'The Guardian' letters: Defending Barnet Council, and Barnet's Corrupt Brent Cross Planning Consent



• Aside from a feeling that Aditya Chakrabortty seems stuck on a vision of local government that harps back to the 1970s, I have three main issues with his piece. One is his binary view of commissioning, in-house or outsourced. In truth, we have a varied mix of providers, some in-house, some charities, some private-sector and some joint ventures. All are united by a clear definition of the service outcome and a drive to secure value for taxpayers.

Second is his failure to understand that by commissioning services we create contracts based on the quality of service residents receive. Capita’s response to losing some calls was to commission extra phone lines. It now answers more calls than ever, with a higher satisfaction rating than the in-house service.

Thirdly, Chakrabortty seems dismissive of saving of £1m a month. Every penny we save on human resources is money we have for social care or child protection. I know which Barnet residents want us to prioritise. This may be why 53% of residents were satisfied with the council in 2010 and 75% are now.
Cllr Daniel Thomas [link to 'Barnet Eye']
Deputy leader, London borough of Barnet




• Due mention should also be made of Barnet’s obsession with increasing its population, although only with the right sort of people that consolidate the political structure of the borough. But for transport, the result is unsustainable congestion from more and more cars. The borough’s cabinet has a “roads, roads, roads and roads” transport policy, to match those aspirations. And Barnet has now granted the UK’s most remarkable planning consent, at Brent Cross on the North Circular Road.

Barnet expects over 29,000 extra cars a day in the Brent Cross area, and the shopping centre expects wealthy new shoppers arriving overwhelmingly by car, even though the transport assessment claims it will increasingly be by bus. That fiction will be obvious only after the shopping centre has opened and the developer has moved on.

All is not lost though, because the borough has a shortlist of new developers, and the cabinet accepted a report that the winner will be announced at a property exhibition in the south of France next spring. Apparently, this is the way that local government now works, the modern way.
John Cox
London

Brent & Kilburn Times, Barnet Times and Barnet Press, Feb 2014
Louis XVI at his court in Versailles, 1789: "All is going splendidly!"


2014-12-18

Decisions/Decisions/Decisions: "London’s Green Belt has never had a Proper Plan"


Link to web site

"... The famous circular of 1955 set the extent of the Green Belt as 5-7 miles – simply Unwin’s 6 miles figure (plus a civil servants 1 mile buffer) from his 1926 report. Unwin was concerned with the picturesque and 6 miles was his assessment of the minimum distance for the edge of an urban area to fade into the landscape background. The figure was taken up by Abercrombie’s Post War Greater London but this was never a statutory plan. The Ministry only set down an indicative map of London’s Green Belt based on it. Following the 1955 circular, Green Belt could only be designated by county maps and then structure plans.

"... It was politically convenient for governments not to enforce the 1955 circular on the extent of the Green Belt. Especially after the publication of the Peter Shore Inner Cities White paper in 1977. Hence the Green Belt grew not because of a plan but because of a series of ad hoc expedient decisions taken against a temporary lull in the growth of London’s population.

"Subtly the focus had shifted from controlling the growth of London, which was no longer growing, to controlling the growth of Home Counties towns, which were. The growth was to be displaced to New Towns but with Thatcher the new towns programme was left to run out of steam with nothing to replace it.

"... The time is right for a proper plan of what the London Green Belt extent should be – the alternative would either be a series of ad hoc deletions or not meeting the critical need for housing."

Barnet Bugle: "Conservative Chief Whip tumbles off his chair during Council meeting"


"Watch from different angles and zoom. Full Council 16 Dec 2014. With a sudden loud crash bang wallop, Cllr Anthony Finn, suddenly vanishes from view having fallen off his chair. Follow us @barnetbugle



[Reposted from Sep 2011] Hammerson's Robin Dobson [plus Sheila King]: "It's ACTIVISTS! It's WEAK COUNCILS! It's NEVER OUR FAULT!" (Rather like the bankers, then)


Link to the YORKSHIRE POST:



1 (of 3): Head of Retail
"THE Government’s Localism Bill is in danger of creating a two-tier planning system, with strong leadership in some towns and cities, and activist groups threatening to derail every development in others, according to developer Hammerson.

"Robin Dobson, head of retail, warned the bill could make it easier for groups in some parts of the UK to block developments, rather than make it easier for projects to go ahead.

"Speaking at a panel debate, Planning for Localism, at Leeds Metropolitan University, Mr Dobson said: 'The ability to formerly [formally?] consult with the electorate on a project early on in the process, before going to planning, has to be a good thing.'

2: Activist
“ 'The negative side is that it will almost create a two-tier system – strong towns and cities but potentially because certain groups have greater power they have the opportunity to derail good developments in places where the leadership isn’t as good'.”  [This sentence: sic. Does Dobbo talk gibberish, or is it an editing error?]


3: 'Where the leadership isn’t as good'





UPDATE:

Link to Independent on Sunday
Independent on Sunday:
"Westfield's latest mall has 300 shops – but will its shiny new tills ring?"

"This week is the annual knees-up for all the people behind shopping centres and high streets up and down the country: the BCSC Conference & Exhibition. More than 2,500 people are due to turn up in Manchester tomorrow and – for two and half days – sign leases to open shops, negotiate deals to fund the development of retail schemes, or network and weigh up the state of their industry, in the face of a very difficult downturn. 

"Sheila King, the director of group retail leasing at Hammerson, which owns regional centres across the UK, including Brent Cross in London, says:
"Despite the challenging conditions, we have still seen strong demand from retailers for space in prime shopping centres."


Link to: 


See an earlier Localism Bill item here.


2014-12-17

'RoadsWereNotBuiltForCars": "Build it and they will come didn't work for Stevenage's cycleways. Why not?"



"Wide, smooth cycleways adjacent to main roads but separated from cars and pedestrians. Perpetually-lit, airy, safe underpasses beneath roundabouts. Direct, convenient and attractive cycle routes designed not by car-centric town planners but by a transport engineer who cycled to work every day. Schools, workplaces, shops: all linked by protected cycleways. Recreational bike paths to nature areas. Colour-coded sign-posting. Plentiful cycle parking in the town centre, at workplaces and at the rail station. An urban cycle network lionised at global conferences and the subject of lectures, books and study tours.

"... [However, nowadays and in reality:] The car culture of Stevenage is not unusual. In fact, it's maddeningly mainstream. The British cultural affinity with motoring – even slow, inconvenient motoring – is all pervasive. Perhaps [cycleway designer] Claxton was trying to force water uphill by promoting cycling to Brits in the 1970s? Perhaps a cycle-friendly New Town built in the future could achieve far more than Stevenage’s current 2.7 percent cycle modal share?"


"... But by not restraining motor vehicle use – and, instead, encouraging it – Claxton is partly to blame for the bad behaviour he describes. The low use of Stevenage’s cycleway network is also probably the fault of Claxton, and his colleagues, because they failed to spot that cycling was a mass mode of transport in the Netherlands for reasons other than provision of infrastructure: culture, history and politics were – and are – major factors. It has been a societal norm to cycle in the Netherlands since the early 1900s, but it hasn’t been societal norm to cycle in the UK since the early 1950s.

"In a few areas of the UK there are pockets of high cycle use, places such as Cambridge and some London boroughs, and in these places there’s a clear case for installing Dutch-style infrastructure. A cycle census by Transport for London has found very high cycle usage on certain roads, where up to 64 percent of the traffic is bicycle traffic. On such roads, where bicycles already dominate, it would be perverse not to provide better, safer facilities. It's a chicken and egg thing, but providing cycle infrastructure in places where there's not already high cycle usage could lead to underuse of such facilities, as happened in Stevenage."

Link to web site

BBC: "Richer at last?"


Link to web site

"It has been a journey of a good six years, give or take the odd blip, but weekly earnings do now seem to be pulling ahead of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation.

"This is especially true of the private sector, which accounts for 82% of jobs (and rising) - where average weekly earnings rose 2.2% in October, compared with inflation of 1.3% in that month and 1% in November.

"The fastest wage growth was 3% in finance and business services - don't curse please, it's unbecoming - and 2.7% in construction.

"The shrinking public sector saw a less-than-inflation 0.5% rise."

Barnet Times: "Anger as four-storey hotel is approved in residential street in Brent Cross"


Link to web site

"Neighbours say plans to build a four-storey hotel on their doorsteps will turn their quiet street into a 'commercial playground'.

"People living in Renters Avenue, Brent Cross, say they were not informed that proposals to build the tower block directly opposite their street, in Haley Road, had been approved – despite voicing objections.

"Although it was formally granted planning permission in 2012, developer Honeyglen Properties began work on the 62-bedroom hotel earlier this month."



2014-12-16

At the other end of the Brent Cross Railway: Wed 17 Dec: London Assembly: "Mayoral Development Area - Extraordinary Assembly meeting on Old Oak & Park Royal"



16 December 2014

"Tomorrow the London Assembly will hold an Extraordinary Plenary session to discuss the Mayor’s proposal for a Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC) to lead the regeneration of the Old Oak Common and Park Royal areas of west London. The proposals would lead to 24,000 new homes and 55,000 new jobs centred on the new High Speed 2 station at Old Oak.

"Under the proposals, the MDC would take over the majority of planning powers from the London boroughs of Brent, Ealing and Hammersmith and Fulham and would lead on preparing the local plans and determining large planning applications in that area.

"The following guests will be questioned:
  • Sir Edward Lister - Chief of Staff and Deputy Mayor for Planning
  • Victoria Hills - Director of the proposed Development Corporation for Old Oak and Park Royal.
"The Assembly will then formally consider the proposals for the designation of the Mayoral Development Area.[1]

"The role of the London Assembly is to act as a check and balance on the activities of the Mayor and the various organisations his office supports.

"The meeting will take place on Wednesday, 17 December from 1.30pm in The Chamber, at City Hall (The Queen's Walk, London SE1).

"Media and members of the public are invited to attend.

"The meeting can also be viewed via webcast."

Notes for Editors:
  1. Section 197 of the Localism Act 2011 gives the Mayor powers to designate any area of land in Greater London as a Mayoral Development Area (MDA) for the purposes of setting up a Mayoral Development Corporation. In relation to the proposal to designate a MDA covering Old Oak and Park Royal, that process has now reached its final stage. At this final stage, the Act requires the Mayor to lay his proposals for designation of the Area before the Assembly in order to afford it the opportunity to reject the proposed designation within the following 21 days. The Mayor may only proceed to designate the MDA if, after the 21 day 'consideration period' has expired, the Assembly has not rejected his proposals. In accordance with Section 197, the Assembly may reject the proposed designation by a two thirds majority of Members present and voting. A formal motion to reject may be moved by any single Assembly Member during the meeting, and if seconded, will be considered and must be voted upon by the Assembly.

  2. Full agenda papers

  3. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

Evening Standard: "Boris Johnson hits out at xenophobia after complaints London is too crowded"


Link to web site

"Boris Johnson today said that those complaining of overcrowding in London should ask themselves if they would feel the same if the extra bodies were 'white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant babies'.

"The Mayor of London challenged people to say what they were 'really calling for' when they made their complaints.

"Mr Johnson recently complained of xenophobia in the UK debate about immigration on his Far East tour."

2014-12-13

Sun 14 Dec: Cricklewood ‘pocket park’ Grand Opening





"A £327,000 project to transform a Cricklewood playground into a brand new ‘pocket park’ is now complete and residents are being invited to celebrate the official opening on Sunday 14th December.

"The Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Hugh Rayner, will be joined by the Chairman of Barnet Council’s Environment Committee, Dean Cohen, local ward councillors and various community groups from 12pm.

"The Cricklewood 'pocket park', located at Kara Way, now has several exciting features for all ages to enjoy, such as a basketball court, a multi-use game area where visitors can play sports such as tennis, a new play-area and a relaxation space filled with a table tennis table and a chess board. The park has also reduced the amount of concrete and tarmac in favour of eco mulch surfacing which is made out of recycled rubber. The planting of nine additional trees, including a new Liquid Amber Tree which acts as a focal point, means the park is now greener than ever.

"The year-long project was part of the Mayor of London’s £2m 'pocket parks' programme to enable local communities and volunteers to rejuvenate and transform small patches of uncultivated and overlooked land into lush green spaces for everyone to use and enjoy.

"The new park in Cricklewood, which received £40,000 from the Mayor of London, is one of 100 'pocket parks' cropping up in 26 boroughs across the capital, as part of the Mayor's commitment to improving green space and tree cover in London. The remainder of the project’s budget was sourced from section 106 funding for open spaces and the funds from the Cricklewood Town Centre Project.

"Judith Williams, who lives near the park and visits regularly with her two young grandchildren, said:
"I was astounded by the revamp. The new playground has created so much fun for children of all ages, parents and grandparents to enjoy precious times together. Well done to all the people who were involved in this wonderful achievement."
"Chairman of the Environment Committee, Councillor Dean Cohen, said:
"This has been a major transformation project which will benefit the whole community in Cricklewood. I want to thank the council's Green Spaces team for all of their hard work as well as all the volunteers who have also helped to steer this project. I hope as many people as possible will come along to celebrate the official opening."

2014-12-11

Owen Jones: [Brent Cross] property developers are overtaking bankers as the new global menace - Comment is free video (The Guardian)



"They're shamelessly greedy, they're tearing apart communities and they're one of the main drivers of inequality.

"Bankers? Tax dodgers? Actually, it's property developers.

"If they continue in this way, argues Owen Jones, housing will become a luxury asset for a few to make billions from, while ordinary citizens are priced out of their homes..."

2014-12-10

Evening Standard: "'White hot' London receives retail expansion green light"


"... Extensions at Westfield London and Brent Cross shopping centres will help balloon the supply of new shops"

Link to web site

"... Paul Souber, head of retail agency at Colliers, said:
"Demand for space in the West End remains white hot. London is unquestionably seen as a number one global city."
"In the past year, central London has witnessed the strongest prime rental growth since 1998 and the sharpest fall in vacancies since 2007. Souber said the new retail planned is all part of 'holistic' developments that include homes, offices, leisure space as well as amenities and infrastructure. He said:
"The level of development planned is sustainable and can be accommodated. London’s population is due to grow and these developments all come with improvements in infrastructure – they really are the blueprint for how development should be."
"But some experts are concerned the new developments will adversely affect smaller neighbourhood and community shopping areas in outer London."

The Guardian: "Too big and too scary, but the global fat cats can be chopped down to size"


Link to web site

"For a time I worked in the private equity large-buyout sector, an industry that invests both money from private investors and public money from pension and sovereign wealth funds in companies that are then sold for a profit, which is subsequently distributed back to the investors. Deal-makers have amassed huge fortunes partly through paying relatively little tax on their share of the profits.

"There is, in my experience, a problematic degree of awe, shared by both the right and the left, of this corporate monied species – and, in the UK in particular, occasionally a misunderstanding of how they work. The hysteria surrounding the witch-hunt of the 'masters of the universe' private equity barons in 2008 for exploiting a tax loophole to pay “less tax than their cleaners” was a clear example of this.

"On the one hand, MPs in a parliamentary select committee asked members of the industry ill-informed and posturing questions. On the other, the establishment was very publicly rewarding private equity dons with knighthoods. Despite the public clamour, MPs barely plugged the tax loophole.

"Observing this process through the prism of private equity, there is a certain obsequiousness on behalf of politicians behind closed doors. It appears almost impossible for them to cut their business opponents down to size when those opponents come to the meeting in a private jet. This is why political pressure from voters is vital. The soft influence as well as direct pressure that corporate lobbies can wield on politicians in effect cuts the voter out of the decision-making process altogether. It is not only inherently undemocratic, but anti-democratic."

2014-12-09

Evening Standard: "Shopping shock waves that have left retailers in need of therapy"


"Black Friday brought customers out in force in Oxford Street, but they simply propped up a slow November"

Link to web site

"... A slew of January High Street administrations in recent years will have brought the festive season’s importance into sharp contrast. Marks & Spencer continues to struggle to win shoppers in the mid-market, has already introduced a Gifting Weekend sale and is struggling to fulfil online orders. Debenhams, Carpetright and Mothercare are trying to return to prosperity.

"Retail has become a game of two halves. Upmarket brands such as Hotel Chocolat, Waitrose and Ted Baker are snaring the ever-lucrative premium spend while Primark, pound shops and the German grocers attract shoppers hunting bargains. The mistake no retailer can afford to make is assuming they are not the same person.

"For retailers brave enough to face up to a world where specialism is everything, they may be able to rekindle the affections of shoppers, and of the City. For those without the means to adapt, the worst could be yet to come."

2014-12-06

TED: "The Suprising Math of Cities and Corporations" - "The Ghastly Tragedy of the Suburbs" - "Retrofitting Suburbia" (So the Corrupt Brent Cross Planning Consent will not last for ever, then.)
















As Easy As Riding A Bike: "When will design guides start thinking about cycling as a mode of transport for all?"


Link to web site

"This week saw the launch of ‘Street Design for All’ [pdf], spotted by KatsDekker. It’s been produced by PRIAN (the Public Realm Information and Advice Network), with advice from the Charted Institute of Highways and Transportation, and carries the official DfT stamp of approval.

"The title is a curious one as far as cycling is concerned, because while the advice inside includes footways and carriageways that are undoubtedly suitable for all kinds of pedestrians and drivers (although with perhaps some question marks over the suitability for partially-sighted or blind pedestrians) it certainly does not include designs suitable for all potential users of bicycles. Quite the opposite – this guidance only appears to include designs that are suitable for existing cyclists, those people currently using the road network by bike. This isn’t ‘Design for All’, by any means, when it comes to this particular mode of transport.

"The cover itself [shown above] is startling. As Kat herself said in relation to this picture, this is not an environment that many people would be happy to cycle in; nor is it even that attractive for people currently cycling." [And Hammerson refuses to cut back the building lines of Barnet's corrupt planning consent at Brent Cross, in order to add segregated cycle paths to future roads that will otherwise be too narrow.]


Future-proofing for Public Transport at Brent Cross - turned down by Hammerson in Barnet's Corrupt Planning Consent


Daily Telegraph: "Where to shop on Small Business Saturday"


"This weekend, thousands of independent retailers will encourage people to shop local. We pick out some of the businesses taking part across the UK"

Link to web site

"Shops across the UK are gearing up for the second annual Small Business Saturday, which takes place on December 6.

"The day-long event, which is supported by all political parties, aims to encourage consumers to switch their shop from a chain to an independent business.

"Butchers, bakers, florists, cake shops, fashion boutiques, gift shops, stationers and all sorts of other independent retailers will be taking part in the run-up to the crucial Christmas shopping period."

2014-12-02

The Guardian: "London’s architecture lacks Berlin’s sense of culture, says Chipperfield"


"Leading British architect, who works in both cities, bemoans lack of public realm and discussion of buildings’ meaning in Britain"

Link to web site

"The leading British architect Sir David Chipperfield has said that he regards private investment’s hold over new architecture in London as an 'absolutely terrible' means of building a city.

"In Berlin, where he employs an office of 90, 'there is still an idea of the public realm. We have given that up in London. We have declared the public realm dead; the question is how to get stuff out of the private sector. We are unbelievably sophisticated at that.'

"His most celebrated work, the remaking of Berlin’s bombed-out Neues Museum, which opened in 2009 after a decade of work he called 'an unbelievably positive experience', was based on a serious debate about meaning that he finds lacking in Britain."

2014-12-01

Newsweek: "Where Have All the Good Jobs Gone? Ask a Robot."


Link to web site

"In 2011, Terry Gou, the chairman of Foxconn, the largest maker of computer components on the planet, stood up at an employee party and announced that he would replace the workers who spray, weld and assemble products for Apple, Sony and Nokia with 1 million robots in three years. Gou wanted to cut rising labor expenses after scandals about onerous working conditions and worker suicides had forced him to raise wages. Though Foxconn is behind schedule with its plan, the company has already added thousands of robots to its workforce.

"Other companies—including restaurant chain Panera, communications giant PG&E and many others—are making similar moves. If trends hold, smart machines—computers and robots equipped with artificial intelligence—will deplete the professional job market in the next decade as ruthlessly as automation and robots did the assembly lines in the 1980s.

"Most forecasters agree that the mid-level jobs such as factory and clerical work are most at-risk. Unfortunately, these make up a huge portion of today’s available careers. A 2013 study on the susceptibility of jobs to computerization came to a devastating conclusion: 'Around 47 percent of total U.S. employment is in the high-risk category... jobs we expect could be automated relatively soon, perhaps over the next decade or two'."


Link to Newsweek

"Is This the End of China's Economic Miracle?"
"After years of double-digit annual growth, that’s a level that makes China’s leaders nervous. To the Communist Party of China, which has ruled the nation since 1949, social stability matters above all, and growth that falls too far below 7 percent could be dangerous for them. The prospect of young college graduates not being able to find jobs, or of poor farmers migrating to new urban areas only to be unable to find work, or of large firms going bankrupt, triggering layoffs, worries China’s leadership.

"China’s development model is obsolete and in need of urgent, not gradual, replacement,” says Daniel Rosen, a principal at the Rhodium Group, a New York consultancy, and author of a lengthy new report published by the Asia Society on the prospects for economic reform in China.

"This is not news to the leaders in Beijing. Indeed, exactly one year ago, President Xi Jinping and his government laid out, at the Communist Party’s so-called Third Plenum, a road map for the reform necessary to replace the current economic model and reinvigorate China’s growth. Known as the 'Decisions Plan', the report at its core called for market forces to assume “a decisive role in alloca'ting resources”—a phrase that pleased Western-trained economists the world over, and gave conservative cadres in China (who still want the state to drive the economic bus) heartburn.

"But the government increasingly doesn’t get much credit for good intentions. Skeptics contend that not a whole lot has happened since Xi and his prime minister, Li Keqiang, assumed office. Now the issue simply is how much urgency the government feels to drive a reform process that will inevitably cause pain (indeed, which already is causing pain)."

The Guardian: "Residents of east London estate stage demo at Westbrook Partners’ HQ in Mayfair to protest against plans to evict them"


Link to web site

"Residents of a housing estate in east London have travelled to the offices of the US investment company that has bought their homes to protest against its eviction plans.

"Parents, children and grandparents from the New Era estate in Hackney travelled across the capital on buses to the Westbrook Partners HQ in Mayfair amid growing political support for their cause and a new agreement by the company not to change tenancy agreements or increase rents before July 2015.

"The comedian and political activist Russell Brand, the Labour MP Diane Abbott and the leaders of the tenants' group are to lead the protest and then march to Downing Street to present a petition to the prime minister. Almost 300,000 people have signed the petition, which calls for the owners to keep rents at an affordable level so existing tenants can afford to stay."

2014-11-30

ARUP Hypocrisy: "Non-Executive Director Sir Michael Bear appointed UK Special Envoy for Sustainable Urbanisation" (after leading Hammerson's 29,000 extra cars/day Brent Cross plan)



"The UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, made the announcement at the Sixth China-UK Economic and Financial Dialogue event in London, which he hosted with Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai.

"As Special Envoy, [ARUP's] Sir Michael will represent UK industry at the highest level, providing advice on UKTI related programmes and engaging with Chinese policymakers on issues around urbanisation. He will also host inward delegations and lead trade missions to China relevant to urbanisation and resilience.

" 'New and renewed cities' was a major theme at this year’s UK-China Economic and Financial Dialogue, reflecting the many opportunities for collaboration between the British and Chinese governments and businesses. Sir Michael’s appointment will help ensure the long-term success of this strengthened cooperation."

Sky News: [Disgusting] "Scenes From Brent Cross, London." (We're used to disgusting scenes from London Communications Agency and Hammerson, so, well: Whatever.)





"The UK continues to embrace the American concept of Black Friday: a big shopping day centered around Thanksgiving sales.

But the effect has not been completely positive."


(It would help if Sky News labelled its archived videos correctly, since this is not actually Brent Cross. But the Murdoch outfit never lets facts get in the way...)