The Guardian: "For many, home ownership will always be out of reach. To ignore them would go against my belief in 'one nation' Conservatism"
|The web site is through the square window|
"[As a Conservative MP,] I am proud to be part of a government that describes itself as one nation. To me, this label is not about trying to please everybody, or even the somewhat patrician 'wet' Toryism of the past. Rather, it is a sincere attempt to govern with a profound sense of the national interest, with particular regard to those who may not naturally vote for us – whether the policies necessary to secure that support are popular, or the tough but necessary decisions generally required.
"In that case, what is a one nation housing policy? In my view, it must be one that includes not just those who own a home or aspire to do so, but those who currently rent and are likely to continue to do so for many years to come.
"... what we need is a housing policy reset, and the signs are that we are going to get one. My colleague Gavin Barwell, our new housing minister, used a speech earlier this month to confirm that the government will no longer focus on 'one single tenure'. This is very encouraging, and I'm sure a keyword we will soon be hearing a lot of is 'flexibility'."
|Link to web site|
"Politics often lags behind reality. But when the two get too badly out of sync, what’s produced is disaster. For proof, look at the catastrophe that is housing in London. We are in the final straight of the capital's mayoral race. An odd, ugly and racist contest, it is also a remarkable one – perhaps the first housing election ever held in postwar Britain. Housing is the thing that Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan and the rest of the candidates bang on about the most – rightly so, as it's the biggest topic for voters. Yet the terms used by politicians are as inadequate as the policies they devise.
"... The idea that Generation Rent is the one with the problem is for the birds: London is becoming a city of renters. Nor is that trend likely to reverse. The consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that, in less than 10 years, 60% of the capital will be renting from a private landlord or a housing association.
"Let that point sink in, because only then do you grasp how much it changes politics in London. Britain's political economy remains shaped by Margaret Thatcher's desire to create a property-owning democracy: one in which Britons held shares in the privatised utilities and building societies and owned their own homes."
|Argent Related image|
(No Cricklewood Lane green space?)
"Over the next few years, we, the Croydon Partnership, will transform Croydon's two main shopping centres Whitgift and Centrale into a world-class retail and leisure destination, which will help transform Croydon back into the best place to shop, work and live in South London.
"Whereas Hammerson alone is making a pig's ear of Brent Cross." [They didn't say that.]
Croydon fly through from Chris Howson on Vimeo.
[Reposted from Jan 2013] Hammerson nearly swallowed by Westfield: "Sign Joint Venture for £1-billion Croydon Town Centre Regeneration"
|Link to Reuters|
"Hammerson plc and Westfield today announced they have entered into a joint venture to redevelop the retail centre of Croydon. As part of the joint venture, Westfield has acquired a 50% interest in the £115 million Centrale shopping centre from Hammerson. The joint venture will also purchase a 25% interest in the Whitgift Centre, following completion of Hammerson's conditional acquisition agreement with Royal London.
"Under the new joint venture agreement, Westfield and Hammerson intend to redevelop and combine the two main Croydon shopping centres, the Whitgift Centre and Centrale, to deliver a comprehensive and transformational change to Croydon. The mixed use scheme of around 200,000 sqm will include retail, leisure, residential with the potential for hotels and offices, and will create over 5,000 new jobs.
"Hammerson and Westfield will meet with all stakeholders over the coming weeks to discuss their plans for Croydon, following which a revised masterplan will be created combining the best elements of both schemes. It is anticipated that planning consent could be secured in 2013, with construction expected to start on site in 2015 for the c. £1bn scheme.
"Westfield and Hammerson have set up a joint management company which has responsibility for development, leasing and asset management of the completed scheme. The Partnership will engage Westfield to undertake the design and construction of the project. Hammerson will continue to asset manage Centrale and any further acquisitions prior to the development of the Whitgift Centre. A Westfield Executive will lead the project development team and it is intended that a Hammerson Executive will lead the asset management of the completed centre.
"Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, has welcomed the conclusion of the joint venture agreement between Westfield and Hammerson to bring forward the regeneration of the retail centre of Croydon, and will officially launch the new joint venture today at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon. He said:
"Croydon has huge potential to return to its former glory as one of London's most vibrant town centres, and a major driver of its economy. The redevelopment of the Whitgift Centre at its heart is crucial to this vision.Westfield and Hammerson's innovative developments have breathed new life into long neglected corners of cities across the country, creating thousands of jobs and delivering growth that will soon be repeated in south London."
"David Atkins, Chief Executive of Hammerson, said:
"We have shown our commitment to Croydon through our existing investments in the town centre and I believe that by working together we can deliver a world class scheme for retailers and residents. Both we and Westfield remain excited and convinced by the opportunity in Croydon, which we can now progress with clarity,"
"Frank Lowy AC, Chairman of Westfield, said:
"The £1billion redevelopment joint venture with Hammerson will provide certainty for the residents, local businesses and retailers of Croydon and the region. The delivery of a major retail regeneration scheme will re-establish Croydon as South London's premier shopping district and will be a catalyst to further investment and development in the Croydon borough."
"Ian Harley, Chairman of The Whitgift Foundation, said:
"As the freeholder of the Whitgift Centre, the Foundation is delighted that there is now alignment between the key commercial players in the town and we look forward to working together with all parties to find a way to bring forward this much needed regeneration."
"A press conference attended by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and the Chairmen of Westfield and Hammerson is being held at Fairfield Halls, Park Lane, Croydon this morning." (Video)
Link to HOME (see all posts).
Architects 4 Social Housing: "Reflections on the Outcome of the Public Inquiry into the Aylesbury Estate Compulsory Purchase Order"
|Link to web site|
"... Architects Levitt Bernstein subsequently declined an invitation to give evidence at the Public Inquiry into the Aylesbury Estate CPO – I assume because of their professional relationship with Southwark Council. Following their design and costing comparison for the south-west corner of the Aylesbury Estate, the Council employed them for its demolition and redevelopment, a project that was completed in 2012, three years before the Inquiry.
"It is understandable that architects need to make a living, so perhaps this is where academics can come in to help with this research. I’d like to see us working together more to access key information to inform decisions around estate regeneration that are more just. Because of the invaluable design service that architects provide for their clients – councils, housing associations and property developers – they are in a strong position to help these clients choose options for housing that benefit existing residents. #
"It's not too late to return and re-examine the proposals drawn up by Levitt Bernstein Architects, which provide options that, unlike Southwark Council’s current plans, would not result in residents of the Aylesbury Estate losing their homes."
[Updated from Dec 2010; reposted from Dec 2013] Reminder of Brent Terrace Residents - "Barnet Council ignores us"
Verbal submission by ALISTAIR LAMBERT (BRENT TERRACE RESIDENTS ASSOCIATION) to Barnet Planning Committee last November:
|These triangles wouldn't get built on in Hampstead or Totteridge, would they?|
As they say, “The devil is in the detail.”
Brent Terrace is not a damaged community. In fact, we are lucky enough to enjoy a real sense of community. Children play in our street, and also on two green spaces that adjoin it.
Transparency International UK: "'Secrecy' over public spending report says the 'unnecessary' denial of information could aid corruption." (Just fancy that.)
"Secrecy and lack of information about UK public spending is so great that in more than a third of cases, the ordinary taxpayer can’t even know who has been awarded a Government or local authority contract, a new report has found.
"Spending data was so heavily redacted, the campaign group Transparency International claimed, that in just one month a single London borough – Hackney – recorded £14 million of payments without revealing to the public who got the money.
"Nationally, the Counting the Pennies report said that at least 35 per cent – more than a third - of published local and central government tender data did not even show who was awarded the contract.
"... The result, said Duncan Hames, the director of Transparency International UK, was that people may be getting away with corruption in public office."
The biggest loophole of all
Having launched and led the battle against
offshore tax evasion,
America is now part of the problem
"Because councils see poverty as a failing, and don't give second chances, people are losing their homes"
|Link to web site|
"Fighting back her tears, Gunita speaks into the telephone in Brent council's customer service centre. 'I’m sorry, I made a mistake. I was confused. I didn’t understand it was the only offer. Please, I’ll take the one-bedroom flat now,' she tells the housing officer on the other end of the line.
" 'It doesn’t matter now. You turned down a reasonable offer so I’m afraid we have no further duty towards you.'
"As an anthropologist documenting the experiences of low-income tenants as they attempt to navigate London’s continuing housing crisis, I have become all too familiar with exchanges such as this. A record number of evictions is leaving increasing numbers at the mercy of local authorities. In cases like that of Gunita, where the applicant has turned down a property, councils can discharge their duty on the grounds that a 'reasonable offer' has been made. In other instances, an individual may not even get as far as making a homelessness application: councils have become adept at discouraging them, a practice known as 'gatekeeping'."
"Think universal basic income is a pipe dream? Experiments all over the world are already showing its potential to transform society for the better"
|Link to web site|
"EACH month, Nathalie Kuskoff repeats the process that ensures her family’s security. Her two young children both have chronic illnesses, so their apartment in southern Finland is mostly paid for by the government, which also helps with childcare, medical bills and education. “I get a lot of different social benefits because of my situation – I mean a lot,” she says. They come at a price: relentless form-filling.
"Most developed economies have some form of welfare state to redistribute wealth from the economically active to those who are unemployed or can’t work. People differ about who they think should get what, but few dispute the principle of a basic safety net.
"But as Kuskoff and many others find, welfare on the basis of need is a cumbersome, bureaucratic affair. And as automation continues its march, many more of us may find ourselves caught in its net. This is the background to a radical idea to rejig the way we distribute welfare that has recently been in the headlines: universal basic income."
Original article is here.
"As the Autumn Statement looms, history shows us that the emergency fix is not enough to boost an economy"
|Link to web site|
"... In a letter to the Financial Times [two economists] talk of 'overwhelming evidence' that the excessive reliance on orthodox and unorthodox monetary policy — in other words, forcing interest rates to artificially low levels — had not only failed to secure a significant recovery of economic activity in the UK, the US or the eurozone but is causing major distortions in financial markets.
"They go on to talk of 'the folly of negative interest rates' and the likelihood of 'serious instability' when the central banks try to get things back to normal. Theirs is a thinly-disguised warning of another financial crash which will be brought about this time by the inevitable and potentially huge losses on bonds which have become the investment of choice for the world's savers. Currently they stand at insanely high levels, driven there by current policy. They will, however, plunge when policy normalises.
"So we are pursuing a policy that has not only failed and which carries a real risk of making things worse but one which Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has advised could yet become more extreme with yet another rate cut."
|Link to Landmark Chambers, for summary of case|
A Lawyer Writes
"A judicial review of the Secretary of State's agreement to the Inspector's report would be on points of law only. Southwark Council would have to show one or more of:
They face a heavy burden of proof."
- breach of a legal principle (most likely the failure to take account of a relevant consideration or the taking into account an irrelevant consideration)
- significant procedural irregularity
- irrationality on the part of the decision-maker.
University of Leicester: "Aylesbury decision could set precedent for stopping gentrification of council estates, says expert"
|Link to web site|
"A University of Leicester geographer, who is an international expert on gentrification, has been working with local campaigners in London to overturn plans for the demolition and 'regeneration' of the Aylesbury Estate, one of Europe's largest public housing estates.
"Last week, it was confirmed that the campaigners were successful in blocking the plans proposed by Southwark Council.
"During the campaign, Professor Loretta Lees presented her evidence on gentrification and social cleansing to the Public Inquiry into the plans to issue residents of the Aylesbury Estate with Compulsory Purchase Orders for their homes. Last week, the Secretary of State announced the decision not to confirm the Compulsory Purchase Order.
"Professor Lees said that taking part in the Public Inquiry was an intense experience:
"We were in security lock-down in a room at Millwall Football Club and it was a David and Goliath scenario – the residents were facing a well-funded team from Southwark Council who had hired one of the UK’s top lawyers."
|Link to web site|
"The battle over the fate of eight Aylesbury Estate homeowners is heading for the High Court after the Government blocked a compulsory purchase order on their flats.
"Southwark council said it would seek a judicial review of the Communities Secretary’s decision to throw out the CPO, which would have allowed it to buy their homes and start demolition.
"Council leader Peter John said minister Sajid Javid’s decision was based on a key misunderstanding of its policy on compensating property owners."
|Is everybody happy?|
"The third leg of the world's intractable depression is yet to come. If trade economists at the United Nations are right, the next traumatic episode may entail the greatest debt jubilee in history.
"It may also prove to be the definitive crisis of globalized capitalism, the demise of the liberal free-market orthodoxies promoted for almost forty years by the Bretton Woods institutions, the OECD, and the Davos fraternity.
"... We are left with a world in a state of leaderless policy inertia, unable to escape slow suffocation. Trade is stagnant. Deflation is still knocking at the door a full seven-and-a-half years into the economic cycle, even with the monetary pedal pushed to the floor. The next downturn will test this regime to destruction."
[Reposted from Nov 2014] "Developers aim high with Brent Cross plan" (Tower blocks of maximum-profit height are okay with Barnet Council, then)
"THE owners of North London’s Brent Cross shopping centre have abandoned plans to extend the scheme in favour of a more ambitious 1 million sq ft development to include homes and leisure facilities, as well as retail space."Hammerson, the property developer, and Standard Life, the insurer, which jointly own the centre, propose to submit the new plans to Barnet Council within the next six months."The change of strategy comes after a four-year battle to win approval for the project. The proposal to extend the centre was initially rejected by planning inspectors in April 2000, but the Government has still to give its final verdict on whether the extension can go ahead."However, John Richards, chief executive of Hammerson, yesterday said that regardless of the Government’s decision, Hammerson would submit the new proposal to the regulators. He said:"Development fashions have changed. The Government is set against the creation of another stand-alone shopping centre like Bluewater, and as far as they are concerned, a straightforward extension of Brent Cross would be in that fashion.""The extension was initially rejected by the local authorities because the owners failed to establish a 'need' for the proposed new shops, a requirement for shopping schemes located outside of town centres."The Government has created a virtual blanket ban on shopping centre developments located outside of town centres, particularly those that rely on heavy car use, because it believes that this sort of development harms trading at neighbouring town centres."However, far from giving up on building new shops at Brent Cross, under the revised scheme, Hammerson and Standard Life propose to add about 290,000 sq ft of shopping space, an amount similar to the original proposal."Mr Richards said that it would be easier to show the 'need' for more shops at Brent Cross if the centre were bolstered by a much more comprehensive development, including homes and offices."Under the revised plan, the total amount of new development on land next to Brent Cross will almost quadruple. The new scheme will include a mix of affordable and luxury homes, hotels, offices, bars, restaurants and shops."Hammerson has been at the forefront of the Government’s city centre regeneration initiatives. Working closely with local authorities and communities, the developer is currently working on new projects to rebuild the Bull Ring in Birmingham, as well as schemes to create new city centre shopping developments in Bristol and Sheffield."Mr Richards said:"From a property developer’s perspective, the benefits of mixed-use schemes are enormous. If we have homes, offices and hotels next door to Brent Cross, we will have even more loyal local residents. People will not drive to Bluewater or Central London if they have the facilities they need on their doorstep.""Although Hammerson and Standard Life will build the commercial aspects of the new development, they are likely to form a joint venture with a housebuilder to develop the homes. Brent Cross shopping centre opened in 1976 and became the first US style air-conditioned two-tier shopping mall in the UK. At the time of its opening, there was much scepticism about whether the scheme would ever be a success and whether shoppers could be persuaded to travel to shop there rather than relying on their local high street."Rents at the centre have increased tenfold since then, to about £400 per sq ft."Ironically, the Government is now being forced to try to wean consumers off shopping at large malls — which protect them from the vagaries of the weather and allow them to take their shopping home by car — back on to high streets."
'The Times': 3 January, 2003.
(Image is of Hammerson's Jonathan Joseph,
Barnet Planning Committee, January 2014)
|(Barnet Times, Nov 2009)|
The Guardian: "What the Southwark Aylesbury estate Compulsory Purchase Order ruling means for the future of regeneration"
"Sajid Javid's refusal to allow the compulsory purchase of flats by Southwark council adds some welcome humanity to a savage process that forces people not just from their homes, but from their communities. But is the decision enough?"
|Link to web site|
"According to Jasmin Parsons, a leaseholder at the West Hendon estate in Barnet, some leaseholders were offered just £90,000 for a one-bed flat and £130,000 for a two-bed maisonette when the council applied for the first in a series of compulsory purchase orders.
"This offer was later increased after the leaseholders employed a surveyor to act on their behalf, but still fell far short of the amount required to buy an equivalent home.
"... Last week, however, the picture changed dramatically, when Sajid Javid, the secretary of state for communities and local government, refused to allow the compulsory purchase of flats on the latest phase of the Aylesbury estate's redevelopment, citing concerns about the way Southwark council was dealing with leaseholders.
"The decision does not end the government’s support for the controversial policy of 'estate regeneration', and will bring little comfort for those who have gone through the financial brutality it often creates, but it may give some protection to those facing eviction in the future."
Architects for Social Housing: "Financial Compensation for Human Rights: The Aylesbury Estate"
"A lot has been written already about Friday's decision by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Sajid Javid, to accept the Government Inspector’s recommendation not to confirm Southwark Labour Council's Compulsory Purchase Order on the homes of leaseholders on the First Development Site of the Aylesbury Estate regeneration. But in the understandable excitement at this rare victory, not all of it has been accurate.
"... the power of leaseholders over their homes has been greatly increased, which definitely makes this decision a victory for those fighting the demolition of their homes. But we should be clear about exactly what that victory is based on, which is the property rights of leaseholders, not what some of us mistakenly understand by human rights. If nothing else, the increased compensation leaseholders can demand might make developers and housing associations like Notting Hill Housing think twice about getting councils to issue Compulsory Purchase Orders.
"But potentially the most useful part of this document is the long section on Public Sector Equality Duty (paragraphs 23-33). Here the considerations of the Secretary of State this duty gives rise to are only sited in the context of the leaseholders who made their objections to his Department; but there is an argument to be made that the negative effects of being moved away from community support networks are just as applicable to tenants, and that simply re-housing them elsewhere doesn’t mitigate those effects.
"This is, perhaps, where the real victory lies in this decision by the Secretary of State: not in the property rights of leaseholders, but in the potential for articulating the human rights of all residents whose homes are threatened by estate demolition schemes."
Evening Standard: "Dutch-style cycle route in Enfield will be a 'disaster,' say businesses" (oh no it won't, say some in the comments)
|Link to web site|
"Construction is about to begin on a controversial cycle path that local businesses claim could be a 'disaster'.
The cycle highway between Enfield town centre and Palmer's Green, part of the £42 million Cycle Enfield project, will see segregated bike lanes on both sides of the A105.
"Transport for London has provided £30 million in funding to transform four busy streets into routes with Dutch-inspired cycling lanes. Enfield Council said "future generations will thank us for these visionary proposals'."
|Link to web site|
"Is London's housing now just a commodity or still the essential fabric of a community? It's strange how slowly the issue of housing in London, and its lack of affordability, has become a major political issue. It has been clear for decades that the current model of new housing in the capital doesn't work in the best interest of communities, and yet nobody has apparently been able to do much about it."City Hall estimates that we need to build an additional 50,000 new homes a year, a figure that we’re only halfway to reaching. Faced with such a shortfall in housing supply, it’s no wonder house prices have been going up and up, pricing more and more people out of the city."To afford your average London home, £526,000 in today's market, the average Londoner will need a 266 per cent pay rise, according to the National Housing Federation. Only those earning in excess of £100,000 are currently able to buy a home in more than half of London's boroughs.
"If the industry were able to ramp up supply by building new homes, which always seems impossible for some reason, then house prices may stabilise or even drop. But by restricting the supply of new homes, house prices stay high, valuations stay high and house-builders’ profits stay high in return."
The Guardian: "Everyone loses out when corporate governance falls by the wayside" (we know that at Brent Cross Cricklewood, don't we?)
"Companies that put shareholders first disregard their impact on others, as the Deepwater Horizon disaster demonstrates"
|Link to web site|
"Many companies, particularly smaller ones, will tell you they exist for their employees and customers, as much as for shareholder gains. Yet those who want to serve a wider base of stakeholders may find themselves hamstrung by a legal system that appears to put shareholder interests centre stage. For all their willingness to do good, is it not the primary duty of company directors to create value for shareholders?
"... But campaigners for a different kind of capitalism say it does not have to be this way. A growing movement is putting forward a new model, where directors answer to a range of stakeholders, such as employees and the environment, not just investors. Those pushing for change may dare to hope their calls will be answered now that Theresa May is vowing tackle corporate irresponsibility and 'reform capitalism so that it works for everyone not just the privileged few'.
"The good news for the prime minister is that a simple amendment to company law could make a big difference."
|Link to web site|
"Forty years ago Brent Cross shopping centre first opened its doors. The development not only changed shopping for the residents of north London, it spurred a new brand of regional shopping mall that took the UK by storm.
The 898,000 sq ft centre opened with established names such as John Lewis, Marks & Spencer and Fenwick – all of which still have stores at Brent Cross – along with brands that have fallen by the wayside including Radio Rentals, C&A and fashion brands Lady M and Lord John.
"Stephen Springham, head of retail research at property agent Knight Frank says it broke new ground. 'It was the UK’s first truly modern covered shopping mall. It may be hard to believe now, but back in 1976, the mainstay of the UK retail scene was still traditional high street shops,' he says.
"... 'Brent Cross brought the world's best brands to north London and gave people a place to shop that was undercover, where they didn't have to battle the elements or dodge cars,' Brent Cross general manager Tom Nathan says. He adds that Brent Cross' accessibility was critical to its success. It is served by the North Circular, A1 and M1, a tube station and is home to the third busiest bus station in London.
"Jenny O'Donoghue, regional director of department store Fenwick, says free parking was also a unique selling point for consumers and continues to be the case today."
|Link to web site|
" 'Technology has always been replacing jobs, and it's always been creating jobs,' Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the Initiative on the Digital Economy at MIT, says. This time might be different, though. 'Recently, we’ve been seeing more of the replacement, more of the automation, and less of the complementing and creating of new jobs.'
"David Autor, a professor of economics at MIT, argues that, unlike the transition that occurred in the Post-War boom, automation is hollowing out the workforce rather than fattening it. Middle-class jobs are being replaced by robots and computers. As workers are forced out of good-paying factory and clerical positions, many take what they can find, maybe working as a janitor or preparing food at McDonalds.
"Those jobs never paid very much to begin with, and the oversupply of applicants depresses wages further, reinforcing the hollowing out. For now, many of those low-wage jobs appear safe. Cleaning office buildings and cooking and serving food is currently hard to automate, at least with the level of service people demand. But as robots get better, those jobs could be in jeopardy, too. Eventually, we’ll all have to find some skill that can’t be substituted by automation."
"In the early 1980s the author was one of the first to herald the emerging dominance of neoliberalism in the west. Here he argues that this doctrine is now faltering. But what happens next?"
|Link to web site|
"The western financial crisis of 2007-8 was the worst since 1931, yet its immediate repercussions were surprisingly modest. The crisis challenged the foundation stones of the long-dominant neoliberal ideology but it seemed to emerge largely unscathed. The banks were bailed out; hardly any bankers on either side of the Atlantic were prosecuted for their crimes; and the price of their behaviour was duly paid by the taxpayer.
"Subsequent economic policy, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world, has relied overwhelmingly on monetary policy, especially quantitative easing. It has failed. The western economy has stagnated and is now approaching its lost decade, with no end in sight.
"After almost nine years, we are finally beginning to reap the political whirlwind of the financial crisis. But how did neoliberalism manage to survive virtually unscathed for so long? Although it failed the test of the real world, bequeathing the worst economic disaster for seven decades, politically and intellectually it remained the only show in town. Parties of the right, centre and left ... all bought into its philosophy."