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

2017-03-26

The Guardian: "Populism is the result of global economic failure"


Link to web site

"... James Montier and Philip Pilkington of the global investment firm GMO say that the system that arose in the 1970s was characterised by four significant economic policies:

  • the abandonment of full employment and its replacement with inflation targeting;
  • an increase in the globalisation of the flows of people, capital and trade;
  • a focus on shareholder maximisation rather than reinvestment and growth; and
  • the pursuit of flexible labour markets and the disruption of trade unions and workers' organisations.

"... 'Labour market flexibility may sound appealing, but it is based on a theory that runs completely counter to all the evidence we have,' Montier and Pilkington note. 'The alternative theory suggests that labour market flexibility is by no means desirable, as it results in an economy with a bias to stagnate. It can only maintain high rates of employment and economic growth through debt-fuelled bubbles that inevitably blow up, leading to the economy tipping back into stagnation.'

"This quest for ever-greater labour-market flexibility has had some unexpected consequences. The bill in the UK for tax credits spiralled quickly once firms realised that they could pay poverty wages and let the state pick up the bill. Access to a global pool of low-cost labour meant there was less of an incentive to invest in productivity-enhancing equipment.

"The abysmally-low levels of productivity growth since the crisis have encouraged the belief that this is a recent phenomenon, but as Andy Haldane, the Bank of England's chief economist, noted last week, the trend started in most advanced countries in the 1970s."

The Independent: "Amazon avoids $1.5bn US tax bill in court ruling"


"Judge rules it legal for internet giant to funnel European sales through Luxembourg"

Deliver the web site

"... [Even with this ruling] Amazon could face additional tax bills in Europe, if Brussels officials choose to take further action.

"Luxembourg is known as one of the world's biggest tax havens, offering heavy discounts on corporate taxes that have attracted global companies such as Pepsi and Apple.

"During his Presidential campaign, Donald Trump criticised Amazon for not paying enough in tax. The online retailer's chief executive, Jeff Bezos, responded angrily to the claims, triggering a social media battle."

2017-03-25

[Reposted from 2011] Mike McGuinness, Hammerson Development Director, and "leading on Brent Cross Cricklewood" (who is 'following'?) fails to mention the place

Publications > Commons Select Committees > Communities and Local Government > Communities and Local Government
Session 2010-12: Regeneration: Regen 73

Written submission from Hammerson plc:

Link to Parliamentary web site

Hammerson PLC

"Hammerson has been creating and managing some of the most exciting retail destinations and office buildings in Europe for over 60 years. A FTSE 100 company with a real estate portfolio in the UK and France of around £5.3 billion at 31 December 2010, Hammerson has investments in 17 major shopping centres and 17 retail parks. We own seven London office buildings, which provide 158,000 m² of prime accommodation. [2013: Not now, you don't ]

"Hammerson aims to be the best owner-manager and developer of retail and office property in the UK and France. We focus on prime regional shopping centres and out-of town retail, while exploiting opportunities in the office sector. Our strategy is to outperform through two areas of focus: maximising income growth, and creating a high-quality property portfolio through acquisition, development and asset management. Both areas are underpinned by prudent financial management."


What made you invest in regeneration in more prosperous times?
"Regeneration is an essential component of the growth process. Hammerson's expertise is in the retail and office sectors. Investment purchases generally become too expensive in a good market and therefore when occupier demand is strong in a particular town or City where Hammerson have an interest then it is a logical step to promote rental and capital growth (and day one profit) through the development process."
What is constraining your ability to invest at the present time?
"The fundamentals of the development process are weak at present. For example, in the retail sector - retailers are very selective about where they locate and how much they will pay, which puts huge pressure on a developer to make development appraisals viable - as inevitably, retailers want to pay less rent but in return for more rent free and capital. [sic]

Demand for residential space is restrained by the lack of mortgage finance. Grants have disappeared in respect of the provision of affordable housing, and therefore even more pressure on viability. [sic] Availability of bank finance is still a big barrier - not so much for Hammerson - but for businesses wanting to expand, which in turn will ignite the development process.
However Hammerson has spent time re-designing schemes, and making them more efficient and deliverable, i.e. fit for purpose. A big problem also with big regeneration schemes is the long lead-in period, huge upfront costs for planning; land assembly, big infrastructure commitments which undermine cash flow/returns, etc. Until the fundamentals change, relative to demand/finance, and more certainty on planning and costs, we remain in for a long and arduous period." [sic]
Do you think the Government’s current plans will encourage investment in regeneration?
"In principle, the Government's plans will help, and in addition to the previous answer, much will depend on the Local Authority's willingness and commitment to driving through the growth agenda.


There is a danger that the process could be side-tracked by agitators, and that NIMBYS will undermine the process. Therefore, it is key to have strong local leadership in the Local Authority at Leader and Chief Executive Level.  [Well, you've got no chance in Barnet, then, have you?]
It is important that processes are simplified, and not made more unwieldy."
Which areas will be most and least attractive for investment under the new arrangements and why?
"In geographical terms this is very difficult to say, until the Government initiatives are in place. The evolution of Local Enterprise Partnerships, Enterprise Zones and Tax Increment Financing (TIF) will be very important in setting up a strong platform for growth. The South East and London will continue to remain dominant, but areas such as the North East will be testing in enabling regeneration to be kick-started. In these areas, the big challenge will be to attract inward investment by presenting more certainty in planning, occupier demand, and delivery terms."
What more could Government do to help?
"I believe that the introduction of TIF will be key to plugging the gap in terms of what is or not a fundable or deliverable scheme in terms of financial returns. Whether the funding is provided by the public or private sector against future rates income, it is very important that the Government give a clear steer, and importantly, formalise the process, in order that regeneration can be kick-started."

Case Study:
Hammerson regeneration projects:
Highcross Leicester and Cabot Circus Bristol 2008

(pic: Leicester Shire Promotions)

"The two schemes follow the success in 2003 of the ground-breaking Bullring [sic] development in Birmingham, where Hammerson was the development partner. Once again, on Highcross Leicester and on Cabot Circus Bristol, Hammerson’s role as the principal development partner has seen the company forge a new template for city centre regeneration.

(Cabot Circus picture: EG Focus)
"Shaped by exhaustive and far-reaching consultation programmes, both Highcross Leicester and Cabot Circus Bristol have been designed to respond to community and council objectives. During the 18-month consultation programme undertaken for Cabot Circus at the planning stage over 200 individuals, representing 76 organisations, were involved in the process, while public exhibitions about Highcross Leicester generated 90% support for the proposals.

"During the development stages of both projects, extensive information programmes were implemented which included: public open weekends, regular mail outs to residents, visits and talks to community groups, and ambassador tours aimed at local opinion forming stakeholders and the public in general."






2017-03-24

The Guardian: "Millions of UK workers at risk of being replaced by robots, study says"


"Workers in wholesale and retail sectors at highest risk from breakthroughs in robotics and artificial intelligence, PwC report finds"

Link to web site

"More than 10 million UK workers are at high risk of being replaced by robots within 15 years as the automation of routine tasks gathers pace in a new machine age.

"A report by the consultancy firm PwC found that 30% of jobs in Britain were potentially under threat from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI). In some sectors half the jobs could go.

"The report predicted that automation would boost productivity and create fresh job opportunities, but it said action was needed to prevent the widening of inequality that would result from robots increasingly being used for low-skill tasks.

"2.25 million jobs were at high risk in wholesale and retailing."

2017-03-23

Evening Standard: "Next boss: We’re losing sales because people don’t want to buy more 'stuff'"


Link to the web site next

"The boss of fashion chain Next today said it had been hit by a generational shift away from owning ever more 'stuff' to spending on memorable experiences such as eating out with friends.

"Chief executive Lord Wolfson, who was unveiling the retailer's first fall in profits for eight years, said the trend — most closely associated with young 'Millennial' shoppers — was a major reason why he remained 'extremely cautious' about the outlook for the rest of 2017.

"... Last year Ikea executive Steve Howard warned that consumers' obsession with owning goods was on the wane, saying: 'In the West we have probably hit peak stuff'."

Until 2 April 2017: Barnet Council: "Brent Cross Thameslink – new project timescales"


"The Brent Cross Cricklewood development is Barnet Council's most significant growth and regeneration programme [and probably its most corrupt].  The vision of the Council and its partners is to create a thriving town centre with attractive and high quality houses and green spaces. Alongside a modernised shopping centre, the development will be served by an additional train station, and a new high street providing local shops, restaurants and offices. We want the area to be a vibrant place to live, work and socialise.

A new station, sooner

"This regeneration will be underpinned by a number of major transport infrastructure improvements. The most significant of these will be a new Thameslink railway station, delivered by Barnet Council with Network Rail, which will link the Brent Cross Cricklewood development to King's Cross St Pancras in less than 15 minutes.

"We are now planning to bring forward the rail-related projects earlier in the overall development programme than previously envisaged, inlcuding [sic] delivering the new Thameslink station in 2022 instead of 2031. This will ensure that the new station is open far earlier than previously planned, supporting the Brent Cross Cricklewood regeneration as a whole and also providing new transport links to existing local residents.

Why We Are Consulting

"Planning permission for the Brent Cross Cricklewood project was first granted in 2010 (ref. C/17559/08) and subsequently amended in 2014 (ref. F/04687/13).

"The planning permission allows for the timing and content of the phases of the project to be amended as necessary, subject to technical assessments and approval.

"We're keen to hear your views before we submit an application to allow the new Thameslink station and other rail-related sites to be constructed at the same time, and see the new station open to the public in 2022." [There are three compulsory purchase orders to push through first.]


2017-03-04

[Reposted] Evening Standard: Hammerson's Brent Cross: "A lot of imagination in the layout" (Then, not now.)


"It is a wonderful asset to be able to park your car and do all your shopping under one roof, without worrying about traffic wardens or getting wet," says Mrs Renee Stitcher, a magistrate's wife.

We took her around the centre to see for herself what was going on, and to get her views about the shopping centre.

"It is a wonderful centre - a lot of imagination has gone into the layout, and I am enjoying walking around the shops, and also having the chance of a sit down and something to eat and drink," she said.

Sometimes she uses Golders Green for her shopping, but says parking is a real problem. "The council has not provided any parking. Either you park a long way away and walk, or else go elsewhere.

"I have been going to the West End, because I can get a car park and a choice of goods.

"The chance of doing all my shopping in one go will be just what many housewives want - and they needn't get wet in the process.

"I like the design and layout of the centre, but my husband is going to be furious because it will encourage me to shop more often!

"High on my priority list with this centre is its convenience. You can come by car and park all around it, and get into the shops on two completely different levels.

"The big West End stores have come out to where we live, and it looks as though there will be plenty of choice.

"I like the big islands of carpeting in the Fenwicks store. The aim of this, I am told, is to help identify each department - the whole store ... looks very bright and cheerful.

"In these days of economic depression and general problems, everyone needs a lift - and this store provides it. I think the Fenwicks store is nicer than many similar styles I have seen in America.

Her one big worry was that the centre was big and overpowering. "It might take a long time before people get used to it."

6 Jan 1976


The Guardian: Opinion: "Every time we take an Uber, we're spreading its social poison"


"CEO Travis Kalanick's treatment of one of his drivers shows Uber's institutional sleazebaggery, seeing social responsibility as an outdated piece of apparatus"

Ride to the web site

"Liberal outrage has been a chorus to Uber's apparently unstoppable rise, but it has never before been a bar to its expansion: the company continues to grow, even as it registers record-breaking revenue loss around the world, much of which it puts down to the inconvenience of still having to pay its drivers.

Given what we already knew about Uber's institutional sleaziness, why is this clip so shocking? Because it reveals an uncomfortable truth about the character of our modern power elites. Part of us would prefer to imagine the svengalis of exploitative businesses as polished, scheming villains, geniuses enviably unencumbered by such old-fashioned burdens as ethics and morality.

"From Trump down, these men would prefer us to picture them as competent and potent – a little brash, perhaps, but that's all part of how corporate power brands itself. This is why it matters that this video exposes Kalanick, one of the world's richest men, as a thoroughly unpleasant person."

[And as for Hammerson?
Ah, Hammerson!]

Evening Standard: "Eight out of 10 homes in flagship London schemes sold to overseas buyers"


Link to web site

"Up to four out of five homes in some of the capital's most high-profile new housing developments have been sold to overseas owners in fresh evidence of London buyers being squeezed out, a report warned today.

"An analysis into the ownership of just over 2,000 flats or houses in 14 developments shows that 1,616 of the homes were purchased by individuals or companies from abroad, says the report's author, anti-corruption campaign group Transparency International.

"The negative impact on London is made worse by the fact that 40 per cent of purchases, totalling £1.6 billion, in the new developments were by investors from countries with a 'high risk' of corruption, says the report."

2017-03-02

Brent Cross: "Family Friendly Shopping For Everyone" ("This is a collaborative post with Brent Cross" so take it with a pinch of salt)


Bump into the web site

"As I have spoken about on the bumpandbeyondblog before, Wednesdays are 'Mummy and Darcy Days'. When the lovely people at Brent Cross got in contact and asked if we would like to come down for a girlie day of manicures, lunch and shopping, of course we snapped up the offer.

Brent Cross is really easy to get to. We got on a bus which stopped right in front of the main entrance. It is easy to get to by tube [it's WHAT???] and there are numerous buses you can get there. There is LOTS of parking if you are coming by car and most importantly the parking is free."