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


Evening Standard: "Keep new social housing for local people, says MP Gareth Thomas"

"Tens of thousands of new social housing homes in London should be safeguarded for people who live or work locally, a Labour MP proposed today.

"Gareth Thomas, the deputy shadow London minister, unveiled plans for 'local occupancy clauses' which would mean the properties could only be sold on to people who have lived or worked in the area for at least three years.
"The legislation already exists for local authorities in National Parks to prevent properties being snapped up as second homes. Mr Thomas stressed that the clauses had helped to reduce property prices by between five and 30 per cent, more typically by between 10 and 20 per cent, and wants them extended to cover other areas.

"The average earnings for full-time workers in Westminster is £43,000, compared with the average house price last November of £778,000, giving a ratio of:
1 : 18.1
For Harrow, the figures were £29,500 and £308,000:
1 : 10.4
and Bexley, £32,400 and £227,000:
1 : 7
In Manchester the respective figures were £24,250 and £92,500:
1 : 3.8

"The Housing Market Reform Bill has little chance of becoming law, but puts it more firmly on the political agenda."

Link to Hansard full report
Summary below from The Guardian:

"Gareth Thomas (Lab, Harrow West) introduced a ten-minute-rule Bill on housing market reform.

"Thomas explained that his Bill sought:
  • to amend section 157 of the Housing Act 1985 to extend the use of local occupancy clauses to certain urban areas with the permission of the Secretary of State;
  • to increase the qualifying period of local occupancy clauses from three years to either five or ten years;
  • to place a duty on the Homes and Communities Agency and local authorities with housing and planning responsibilities to promote co-operative and mutual housing options and report annually in this regard; and
  • to require the Homes and Communities Agency, local authorities and the Land Registry to identify land available for housing development which has not been developed and to publish a report on the available options for development of housing on such land."

Brent Cross Railway, and advantages to Harrow:

"The big conversion: 40,000 new homes as London's offices are turned into flats"

Link to Evening Standard

"The relaxation of rules allowing offices to be turned into flats has set the property world alight. The major policy change could provide more than 40,000 new London homes, many in prime central business districts where young Londoners, keen not to have an expensive commute, will be able to live and work.

"The areas in the forefront of the great conversion are Holborn and the former Fleet Street newspaper district, Victoria, Vauxhall, Euston, Whitechapel, Waterloo and Hammersmith — all where residential demand is growing and outdated office buildings are ripe for conversion. In outer London, Ealing, Barnet and Hounslow are set to benefit from more homes.

How the figures stack up

"Office-to-residential conversions have been gaining pace for 10 years, driven by the demand for housing, especially in prime areas where flats cost up £3,250 a sq ft compared with £2,100 a sq ft for office space.
  • Since 2001 more than three million sq ft of central London office space has been changed to homes
  • Another 1.8 million sq ft of unused space is awaiting planning consent for change of use to homes
  • An estimated 17 per cent of all offices in the South East commuter belt are lying vacant
  • The Government believes up to 40,000 flats could be created in and around the capital."

Shelter: "The Rent Trap"

Link to web site

"Rising rents are making it harder than ever to save for a deposit – or even make it to the end of the month.

"Locked out of home ownership, many people are facing a lifetime of unstable renting instead."


"Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Put In A Planning Application..."

"An eight-part observational documentary series, following planning applications and the contentious processes behind them."

If Hammerson and Barnet don't behave, Telly Savalas will come back from the grave, and make a Brent Cross Living Bridge video

(Birmingham New Street station) 
For our younger readers:

Urban Times: "Nine City-Building Projects to Watch For in 2013" (and strangely, none of them are Hammerson's Brent Cross)

(Click on images)

"For the first time in history, there are more people living in urban areas than there are in rural areas, which by 2030, are expected to support almost 5 billion people. Cities are swelling to unprecedented sizes.

"But as Edward Glaeser now famously argues in Triumph of the City, cities also represent our best hope in solving the environmental challenges we collective face, in elevating people from poverty, and in creating meaningful economic development through the power of agglomeration.

"Critical will be our ability to recognize the factors that lead to urban success, which changes every day as our societies develop and technology improves

"Because of the growing importance of cities, 2013 will play host to a vast number of city-building mega projects that will redefine how we shape the places we live in. Their outcomes will set the stage for how (and why) we build cities in the future."


The New York High Line: Park in the Sky

Improbable Journey: The story of New York’s High Line [video]

"How CSX helped turn an abandoned rail line in the heart of Manhattan’s Meatpacking District into one of the country’s most unique parks"

"Railroad lines criss-crossing the country move freight, delivering everything from coal to cars. But one rail line running above the streets on Manhattan’s West Side moves your soul, delivering sanctuary amid coneflower and pink evening primrose.

"The High Line, a deteriorating elevated rail line turned iconic city park, moves closer to completion with the recent donation of the third and final section of the High Line by CSX Transportation, Inc.

The first two sections offer a mile walk along a lush, meadow-like setting from Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District to West 34th Street, between 10th and 11th avenues. ... The last section, expected to begin construction later this year, runs for one-half mile north of the current park."

High Line: The Inside Story of
New York City’s Park in the Sky
by Josh David and Robert Hammond
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks - October 2011
(Click above for Review)

"The High Line: The Inside Story of New York City’s Park in the Sky is part diary, part 'how-to' guide, and part detective story – albeit one whose outcome we know as soon as we look at the cover. 

"I found it fascinating to read, even though I already knew a fair bit about the process by which the High Line was created.

"The preface’s first sentence, a journalist’s quote describing Joshua David and Robert Hammond as 'A pair of nobodies who undertook [an] impossible mission' (and I would add, succeeded beyond their wildest dreams) really captures this unlikely tale.

"... What the High Line story makes clear is the critical juncture that is reached, when grassroots causes actually triumph, are embraced by the powers that be, and begin down the path of all complex public projects."
[Not that Barnet is listening.]

" 'Start building or sell up': warning over stalled £3bn housing scheme" [Funny. Barnet doesn't say that to Hammerson]

Link to Evening Standard

"The Qatari developers of the stalled £3 billion Chelsea Barracks apartments scheme were today told to 'start or sell' to unlock hundreds of promised affordable homes.

"The prized site, bought for almost £1 billion six years ago, is still a windswept wasteland, 18 months after the Qataris secured a hard-won planning permission from Westminster council.

"Today the authority’s housing chief Jonathan Glanz urged the Emirate’s development arm, Qatari Diar, to crack on and deliver the 120-plus affordable homes and £78 million cash contribution it promised.

"The landmark project has been put on hold, amid fears that it is no longer commercially viable in the deteriorating economic climate."

17,000 stampede to
get their hands on
2,800 Olympic village flats

"More than 17,000 people have registered interest
for one of the 2,800 apartments in the Olympic village,
it was revealed today.

"The owners of East Village said they were 'really encouraged'
by demand in the Stratford neighbourhood where
the first residents are due to move in this August.

"The boss of the Qatari Diar Delancey (QDD) consortium,
which owns half the complex, insisted they were aiming
to create homes for young London families and would
not market the properties to wealthy foreign speculators."


"The ultimate Davos debate: Marx takes on Keynes, Friedman and Schumacher"

(Click on any image for 'The Guardian') 
"Imagine that you could construct the ultimate Davos panel. ... How about this? Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman and Fritz Schumacher, all no longer with us, kept in line by the IMF's Christine Lagarde, thankfully still alive and kicking, and one of the standout performers last week.

"The capitalist class gathered in Davos has spent the last few days wringing their hands about unemployment and the lack of demand for their goods. What they seem incapable of recognising is that these are inevitable in a globalised economy. There is a tendency towards over-investment, over-production and a falling rate of profit."

"That's a gloomy analysis, Karl. Wages are growing quite fast in some parts of the world, such as China, but I'd agree that inequality is a threat. Maynard, do you think things are as bleak as Karl says?"

"No I don't Christine. I think the problem is serious but soluble. ... [But] the balance between fiscal and monetary policy is wrong; currency wars are brewing; the financial sector remains largely unreformed, and aggregate demand is weak because workers are not getting a fair share of their productivity gains."

"Some of my friends in the Austrian school of economics would favour doing nothing, in the hope of a cleansing of the system, but I wouldn't. Unlike Maynard, I wouldn't support measures that would increase the bargaining power of trade unions, and I've never been keen on public works as a response to a slump. ... I think monetary policy should be set in order to hit a target for nominal output – the increase in the size of the economy, unadjusted for inflation."

"I am greatly disturbed by the way the debate is being framed. There is an obsession with growth at all costs, regardless of the environmental costs. Climate change was rarely mentioned in Davos: this after a year of extreme weather events. It is frightening that so little attention has been paid to global warming, and almost criminally neglectful of governments not to use ultra-low interest rates to invest in green technologies, Christine."

"Well, I did say:
"If we carry on as we are, the next generation will be 'roasted, toasted, fried and grilled'."

"Nicholas Stern: 'I got it wrong on climate change – it's far, far worse'"

Link to The Guardian

"Lord Stern, author of the government-commissioned review on climate change that became the reference work for politicians and green campaigners, now says he underestimated the risks, and should have been more 'blunt' about the threat posed to the economy by rising temperatures.

Link to:
'The Wichita Eagle'
(yes, really)
"... Stern's comments came as Jim Yong Kim, the new president of the World Bank, also at Davos, gave a grave warning about the risk of conflicts over natural resources should the forecast of a four-degree global increase above the historical average prove accurate, saying:
"We have to find climate-friendly ways of encouraging economic growth. The good news is we think they exist.

... There is a lot of money to be made in building the technologies and bending the arc of climate change."

[Reposted] Chapman Taylor: Hammerson's Brent Cross 'Living Bridge': further designs. (Just trying to be helpful, just trying to be helpful)

Link to Daily Mail

"... In time, a sturdy living bridge is produced. Some can take ten to fifteen years to become fully functional."
[Could have planted it during the failed 1996 shopping centre expansion plan, then.]

Regarding the 'Living Bridge',
"From major regional malls to speciality shopping centres, Chapman Taylor has a proven track record as one of the world’s principal designs of the retail environment. This is based on a clear understanding of both the consumer and retailers needs. Our goal is to be innovative and practical, and to always exceed the expectations of the users."

[The users are expecting a new balanced, environmentally-sustainable town of green industries, intellectually-based, rather than financially-based commercial activities, artistic and educational facilities, whole-of-life housing, and low-impact appropriate retail and leisure. What are you offering? And how much loss should Hammerson make, on its over-priced land purchases?]

Evening Standard letters on housing

(Click to enlarge)

"Policy Exchange report:
"Tower blocks
'should be bulldozed'"
"New Heygate:
‘It looks nice, but
where’s the affordable housing?’"


Sunday Telegraph: "Starbucks threatens Cameron after 'unfair' tax attacks"

"Starbucks has threatened to suspend millions of pounds of investment in Britain, after what it described as constant and unfair attacks over its tax affairs by David Cameron and the Government"

Link to story about
tax-avoiding Starbucks
"Kris Engskov, the multinational’s UK managing director, demanded talks at Downing Street, after the Prime Minister said tax-avoiding companies had to 'wake up and smell the coffee'.

"Mr Cameron’s use of the phrase, at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week, was taken as a direct attack on Starbucks, which has been criticised for not paying corporation tax in Britain."

"... The US coffee chain has found itself under regular attack after it was disclosed that, since its arrival in Britain in 1998, it has paid £8.5 million in corporation tax, despite total sales of £3 billion. It said last month it had made a profit in only one year."

Click on image below, for another Sunday Telegraph article
(The image is designed for The Huffington Post UK by Handface and @DavidLBeresford, and is unconnected with the article)

"Starbucks fights shy of UK figures
amid fear of tax backlash"

"Starbucks has raised fears of a customer boycott in Britain,
after breaking with practice and failing to give any details of
the performance of its UK business over Christmas.

"Starbucks has proved a lightning rod for public anger over the
minimal tax paid by some high-profile multinationals in Britain.
It emerged late last year that the world’s largest coffee chain
has paid just £8.6m in corporation tax, on £3bn of revenues,
since launching in the UK more than a decade ago."

Brent Cross's Hammerson is involved with one off-shore tax haven in developing Brent Cross, and with another off-shore tax haven in administering its employees' company share scheme.

In addition, Network Rail Infrastructure Ltd. is in 'partnership' with an off-shore tax haven company to build a waste incinerator at Brent Cross, which may or may not make use of the planning permission already granted to Hammerson for such a plant, by Barnet council. Part of this permission includes a 140-metre incinerator chimney near the existing shopping centre.


Town Teams

The famous station clock, nominated
in the top five by Time Out

"The New Windows on Willesden Green project aims to leave behind a strong and active partnership of residents and businesses who can continue to build on the enthusiasm generated by the project, and create a vibrant and viable town centre in Willesden of which all can be proud.

[The team was set up after the Mary Portas initiative, and is working with Brent Council to improve Walm Lane and High Road shopping area.]

"A Community Development Panel has been put in place to allow access to small grants for projects from the Community First Fund (a recent Government scheme to encourage community lead initiatives) and from which – with the support of the New Windows partners – a Town Team will develop. The Town Team will take ownership of its vision for Willesden Green and develop its own ideas around how to make Willesden a better place to live and work in.

"Town Teams are being established across the country to bring genuine local aspirations to bear on emerging local and national policies and strategies relating to community, environmental and business development issues. By encouraging strong cross-sector partnerships and developing a vision with community and political support, there is a greater opportunity to harness public and private investment and to action more sustainable change."

Daily Telegraph articles: A triple dip into them

(Click on images)

"Warning of triple dip
and risk to credit rating"

"The Chancellor is under pressure to respond to weak growth by toning down his austerity programme with temporary tax cuts or spending projects. Olivier Blanchard, the International Monetary Fund’s chief economist, and Goldman Sachs Asset Management boss Jim O’Neill have urged him to rethink his plan in the March Budget.

"The Chancellor, who has insisted he will not budge from his deficit reduction strategy, said:
"We have a reminder today that Britain faces a very difficult economic situation. A reminder that we face problems at home because of the debts built up over many years and problems abroad with the eurozone. We can either run away from those problems or we can confront them, and I am determined to confront them."

"Soros hits out at
Osborne's austerity programme"

"The big lesson from the 1930s, Mr Soros said, was the need to print money to counter the contraction in credit, but continued:
"If money injected into the system gathers momentum, interest rates will shoot up.

“We are therefore facing a period of 'go-stop', [although this is] far superior to no go at all".

"Is it time to grasp the
debt restructuring nettle?"

"Everyone’s fed up with waiting. Unemployment may be coming down but it hardly feels like a recovery. It’s been almost five years since the end of the boom. The economy has flat-lined since mid-2011. GDP per head - according to Citi’s Michael Saunders - is now 6.7pc below the pre-crisis peak, worse even than Japan’s 'lost decade'.

"And the pound in your wage packet really won’t be worth as much tomorrow.

"Vincent Reinhart, Morgan Stanley’s chief economist who was a senior US Federal Reserve official and is the author of seminal papers on post-financial crisis responses, thinks there is an alternative, though. That there is a quicker way back to prosperity."

Brent & Kilburn Times

Local people can influence the future of their area.

Brent Council has already listened to the consultation. and scrapped the first scheme, which would have demolished the Victorian library.

383: "Hammerson implements Google product search"

"We create meaningful reasons for people to love brands, and believe that when work meets this objective, we achieve something special for our clients and their customers."
Birmingham's Bull Ring (sorry, 'Bullring') shopping centre video:

"We're really excited to announce the launch of a new piece of functionality that we’ve been working on in partnership with Google and Hammerson.

"Imagine the dilemma: you’re in a hurry and you desperately need to know where to grab some creative community standard-issue chinos locally.

"Instead of having to call stores at your local shopping centre to find out if they have any, just type what you’re looking for into Product Finder and it’ll tell you where in the centre you can find your chinos, how many are left, and how much they’ll cost. Not only that, you can save it to a shopping list, and pick it up when you head over.

"Product Finder, which has just launched at TheOracle.com was born out the insight that if bricks and mortar is to continue to compete with online retail, we need to leverage existing online behaviours, and this seemed like the perfect place to start.

"We applied all of our user experience know-how to the integration with Google Shopping, and brought together creatives, customers and internal stakeholders to produce a user-journey which is a piece of cake. We then worked with technology partners Invent Commerce and Vicinitee during the implementation phase, conducting user-testing on prototype versions of the functionality, prior to going live.

"There are a couple of ways to access product search, both on the homepage and within the site’s own search function. Any manner of search requests can be input into the product search page, and results can be filtered by price and retailer. Visitors can then tag products to their own account page, or share via Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

"We’re delighted to be working with Hammerson on this, as one of the first shopping centre owners globally [Globally? Oh, Google, not Hammerson] working with Google on the first phase of integrating Google Products."


Evening Standard: "Mortgage deposit for first-time buyers will hit £100,000 by 2020, says study"

Link to web site

"The average mortgage deposit for first-time buyers in London will soar beyond £100,000 by 2020, a major report warns today.

"That will make home ownership an 'impossible dream' for all but the wealthiest young Londoners, as foreign investors and City professionals snap up most new flats and houses, it says.

"The grim prediction comes as an Evening Standard analysis of Greater London Authority figures found levels of home ownership in freefall among the under-35s."

[Reposted from Aug 2012] Property Week: Westfield Brent Cross?

Link to Property Week web site
(registration invited)

"... Defiant Peter Cooper, portfolio director at Hammerson, said
"Brent Cross is a flagship asset for us in the UK, we wouldn’t sell, and there is no logic in bringing in a new partner. There is development potential, and we are in a good position in terms of funding to carry that out with our joint venture partner." [Particularly if Westfield beats Hammerson in Croydon?] [2013 update: It did (more or less).]
"... Hammerson is now determining how it is going to phase the 936,500 sq ft extension of the centre, and the adjoining, outline-consented 250 acre Cricklewood regeneration scheme, that includes 4m sq ft of offices and 7,500 homes. [In April 2012, the Evening Standard said there would be a "600,000 sq ft southern extension to the 850,000 sq ft North London mall".]

"It is expected to decide on its strategy in the autumn, which will involve a revamp of the existing centre, and apply for a revision to the existing consent early next year." [Well, Hammerson has produced an animated bus map, at least!]

"The extension of the centre has an estimated development cost of £290m. The earliest start would be in 2015, with possible completion in 2018. [The end of the 'Lost Decade'?]

"Cooper says:
"The extension will include a large amount of leisure, and it is amazing the amount of floor space they soak up. We are looking at a few exciting options that will help to make it even more of a destination." [That'll include the temporary ''Brent Cross Golf'.]

"Canary Wharf is set to double in size and become family friendly"

Link to Evening Standard

"Canary Wharf’s housing market has been quietly readjusting since the dark days following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. With the arrival of JP Morgan and Shell, the local working population passed 100,000 for the first time last year, with the area now accommodating more bankers than the City of London. [There goes the neighbourhood.]

"And whereas the original Canary Wharf estate was geared towards giant office buildings for banks and financial services companies, the future development pipeline — more than nine million sq ft of space, the largest construction programme in London — has a far larger residential element."  

More of Canary Wharf
And more
[Brent Cross Cricklewood was going to be 14 million sq ft, before the project 'paused'. It would seem it is no longer considered 'the largest development in London'. 

Perhaps it is now recognised as a Hammerson fantasy (or nightmare). Has anyone told Barnet Regeneration?]

Link to:


Evening Standard: "So hard to peer through the fog, it’s time for the ostrich strategy"

Link to web site

"How much do central bankers really know? According to one presentation I heard recently — called 'First, We Kill All Economists' — not much.

"The speaker, Société Générale economist Dylan Grice, was scathing, about both the ability of central bankers to control inflation, and an apparent total confidence in their ability to do so."

ITV News: "What's in store? New figures point to a grim 2013 for retail"

Link to web site

"Today the British Retail Consortium (BRC) has released it's [sic] highly significant monitor of the sector - which has such a large data sample, that it accounts for stores employing well over a million workers.

"Not only was footfall down in December and a record number of shops closed...there are alarming signs for the future. Half of the retailers questioned say they are considering lay-offs in the first quarter of 2013. This goes much further than the usual post-Christmas shedding of seasonal staff."

"Britain's job culture is
still mired in insecurity"

Evening Standard
"Embattled retailers get a boost
from surprise sales jump"

"The High Street earned some respite from a nightmare
start to the year today, as the CBI reported far stronger than 
expected sales in the first half of January.

"[But] Capital Economics’ Martin Beck said:
“This is a so-so result. The downside is that retailers
don’t share much confidence over the next couple of months.
High inflation and weak wages will continue to cap
consumer spending.”

Evening Standard:
"Wake up and smell the coffee"

[Reposted from Mar 2012] Politicians start Crossrail (with Crossrail 2 to Alexandra Palace in ten years' time?)

High Speed Two and Crossrail Two announcements now rumoured to be made on Monday 28 January 2012!

"Sorry, am I boring you?"
(Link to Crossrail web site)

"The Mayor of London and the Secretary of State for Transport today revealed the giant 1,000-tonne tunnel boring machines that will carve Crossrail’s tunnels under the capital.

"Almost 40 years after the new railway was proposed, this marks a significant milestone in the delivery of this major transport infrastructure project, set to add £42 billion to the economy and create thousands of jobs.

"Today, the first of eight enormous machines, each 150 metres long and weighing 1,000 tonnes, will begin their journey to the Royal Oak Portal in west London from where, next week, they will start tunnelling 6.4 km (four miles) east to Farringdon via Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. The machines are equivalent to 14 London buses end to end with enough force to lift over 2,900 London taxis."

Link to 'New Railway to Alexandra Palace?'

And don't forget the 'North & West London Light Railway' 
(as if you would) ...