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Peter Murray

In the latest talk in our ‘Planning for 10 Million’ series, Alex Lifschutz (Lifschutz Davidson Sandiland) and Colin Wilson (London Borough of Southwark) discussed the recent history of “Affordable Housing and the Planning System from Margaret Thatcher to James Murray.” Barry Coidan reports.

Alex Lifschutz bravely began by describing a planning/regeneration project that went badly wrong. His firm was involved in the original plans for the “Regeneration of King’s Street, Hammersmith.” On paper there was nothing wrong with it. Affordable housing along with less affordable homes with the development centred on Hammersmith Town Hall and a fine old cinema. Unfortunately, the scheme was overblown the local authority wanting to get as much out of the development (and developers) as possible. There were two plans, there was massive opposition by residents. The much loved local Cineworld cinema was at risk. The second plan, however, was approved at a stormy Council meeting and the cinema was to be razed to the ground.

New developers moved in and demolished the Cinema. Control of the Council changed hands and the new Labour administration stopped the development. Anger and disappointment followed. Planning and design had played second fiddle to commercial interests. That imbalance proved disastrous: the outcome was a much loved cinema demolished and nothing for the Community.

Thankfully we moved onto an uplifting success story. Coin Street Community Builders. Twenty years ago this area of London was bleak, unattractive, with few shops and restaurants, a dying residential community and a weak local economy. Today it is thriving mixed and balanced neighbourhood: a destination for millions of Londoners and visitors from overseas, with a thriving residential and business community benefiting from ever-expanding community facilities and services. How did that happen?

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Peter Murray

 

London National Park City will be launched in May 2019. The concept already has a large following among Londoners as well as the support of Mayor Sadiq Kahn, and was covered in a London Society event earlier this year. The enthusiasm with which the idea has been received reflects the importance that we collectively place on green space in the capital.

Next year, one of the key strands of the Society’s programme will be around the topic of our legacy of squares, parks and metropolitan green spaces. We’ll look at our regional parks in the Lee, Wandle and Colne Valleys and at our common lands and forests.

But also we’ll study the problems that our local parks are facing because of cuts in borough funding; we’ll discuss the frustrations of park users when they find their ‘public’ space enclosed in order to accommodate a pop concert or a winter fair and we’ll look at the management of privately-owned, publicly-accessible space (POPS).

Green space is just one of the key London issues we will be focusing on over the next 12 months. I hope you will join us to share thinking and debate their role in delivering the sort of capital we want to live in.

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Peter Murray

 

A new book has a slightly different take on the capital, looking at the life of the city through the eyes of 24 individuals (one for each hour of the day). Tim Barron reviews the book.

“London Lives –   24 iconic people & places around the clock” is exactly what it says it is, 24 times and locations in text and photographs summing up the life of the capital’s working inhabitants.

The photo locations often dictate who is interviewed but sometimes it is the other way round. So we meet Tower bridge keeper Chris Earlie (overseer of 900 bridge lifts a year) and Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer (self confessed Princess of Punk), in their respective work places. Danny Rosenbaum’s text meshes with Tom Vandervell’s detailed large format photography often evoking memories. For example, for me the view from the General Wolfe statue in Greenwich park (surely the best view of London ) recalls happy times spent at the Royal Observatory and the shot of St Paul’s Cathedral choir stalls takes me back to graduating as a London Blue Badge Guide. That is one of the joys of this lavishly illustrated work, finding the familiar alongside the newly discovered. There are plenty of “Oh I didn’t know that” moments, for example did you know there are Yoga classes on Tower bridge glass walkway 42 metres above the Thames?

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Peter Murray

 

a5-christmas-flyer_r2front_hr-copy-2If you know someone who loves London, why not give them a membership to the London Society this Christmas?

They’ll get all the benefits of membership – reduced rate tickets for talks and lectures, priority booking for walks and tours, an invite to the summer party and the Banister Fletcher lecture, plus the Society Journal.

And there’s a little something extra if you give a gift subscription before 16 December.

We’ll mail you a bonus issue of the Journal and a card so you have something to wrap and to send to the lucky recipient.

Gift memberships run from 25 December for 12 months, so new members will get a full year’s worth of events to take advantage of.

You can give either an individual membership or a dual/family membership, just click on one of the images below.

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Gift membership – dual/family

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Gift Membership  – individuals

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Peter Murray

 

There was a full house last night for this year’s Banister Fletcher Lecture given by Ben Derbyshire, President of the RIBA. We hope to have a write-up of the talk on the blog very soon, along with the slides from the presentation.

Ben mentioned several papers and projects in his talk, and we thought it would be useful to make some of those links available.

  • The London Society ‘Green Sprawl‘ paper is now out of print, but you can download a PDF here>>
  • Ben’s paper ‘Building Greater London‘ can also be downloaded (or you can buy a print copy) here>>
  • There’s more on the ‘Supurbia‘ concept on HTA Design’s site here>>
  • The RIBA paper ‘Ten Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live’ is to be found here>>

We’d also be very interested to find out your views about the London Society and ways in which we can improve what we do – if you have ten minutes to spare, please have a look at our survey.

And don’t forget to nominate London’s Worst Public Sculpture – more information on that can be found here.

Finally, if you’re not currently a member of the Society we’d love you to join. Full details are here.

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Peter Murray

 

Help us find out a little more about you – as a member, ex-member, follower, occasional site visitor – and you could win a bottle of champagne just in time for Christmas.

Please spare ten minutes to take our survey and give your opinions on the Society: your views will help develop our programme of events; ensure the Journal is interesting and informative; make sure the Society is covering the ground that you wish us to.

The Society has grown considerably over the past few years and there are now many more events than previously – but what do you think about what we do and how could we improve?

All replies will be treated in the strictest confidence, but your responses will help build a picture of what appeals to you and to others, so that the Society may continue with its work of “valuing the past; looking to the future”.

Anyone who takes the survey before 11 December can go into the prize draw, and we will send out a bottle of good French fizz to one person at random after the closing date. Just click the button below to get started.

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Peter Murray

For the second year, the London Society ran a series of five interconnected talks on Saturday mornings in a ‘Planning School’. This year’s were held in association with The Sir John Cass Faculty of Art, Architecture & Design (CASS), London Metropolitan University (‘The Cass’), to whom many thanks.

Darryl Chen, who leads the urban design studio at Hawkins\Brown, and who worked on the structure of this year’s school, reports on the five sessions.

‘Planning-tainment’ is too trivial a way of describing why fifty keen people spent a series of Saturday mornings in a windowless lecture theatre at the end of a long summer. But prove it did beyond a shadow of doubt that 1) planning is actually a popular topic and 2) a stellar cast of practitioners could engage audiences with information and wit.

This was the conceit of 2018’s Planning School: A series of mini lectures that challenged a wide audience of interested people, concerned citizens, architects and planners alike. Each week featured two speakers giving a double act of different perspectives on the same topic. Fewer than half the speakers were actually professional planners, but all actively engage with the planning system to shape our city’s places. Perhaps that is an apt description of the breadth of characters who are involved in this beautiful lumpen beast we call planning.

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Peter Murray

The capital is blessed with a large number of wonderful public sculptures – but also cursed with those that are trite, ill-conceived or amateurishly executed.

Together with London Historians, the London Society wants to shine a light on those sculptures and statues that blight our public spaces.

We’ll be doing this in two parts. In the run up to the end of the year we’re asking you to nominate the sculpture(s) that you feel ought to be melted down, broken up, or otherwise removed from public gaze.

In the New Year we’ll take the top ten nominations and put these out to a public vote to decide which are the capital’s most-reviled.

The poll results will be announced at a joint London Historians/London Society event in February – an evening of positivity, as we will be discussing the people, things or events that London should be celebrating and which so far are not commemorated.

You can nominate your sculptural eyesores by clicking here, or by tweeting using the hashtag #BadLondonSculpture

Old or new sculptures can be nominated, the only requirement being that they are in public spaces (so a statue in e.g. a park, station, street or shopping centre would be fine, inside e.g. a building lobby or a church would not).

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Peter Murray

 

The October-December 2018 issue of Planning in London magazine has just been published. Contributors include Mariead Carroll, Riëtte Oosthuizen, Andrew Rogers, Paul Smith, Simon Bath, Julia Park, Ben Taylor, Louise Brooke-Smith and Paul Finch (among others).

You can read the full edition online below or download a PDF here.

 

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Peter Murray

 

A large and knowledgeable audience were treated to a “Celebration” of street furniture when the Society welcomed back Matt Brown of the essential Londonist website. Jo East reports.

From phone boxes to stink pipes Matt “set out his stall” that this could only be a canter through the various street furniture that gave such interest to this great city of ours.

Beginning with phone boxes Matt briefly outlined the history of the K Series and taught us to identify our K2s (bigger with a regular lattice of panes) from our K6s. (Smaller and with glass recalling old celluloid film – Big frame in the middle and smaller runners down the side) and then talked about how they had been repurposed throughout the city as mobile tech takes over. From a flower kiosk in Russell Square to a book exchange in Lewisham inventive uses have been found for these structures that, being listed, often have to grace our streets long passed the time of their original purpose. Diverting briefly into the sociological significance of tart cards – A 30 year collection now held by the Wellcome Trust to reflect our changing taste, tech and morés – Matt then moved on to post boxes: We saw a map of all the relatively rare Edward VIII boxes. Outer London reigning supreme reflecting the direction of development at that time. As before the more interesting uses to which various redundant boxes had been put were shown. A city farm chicken hutch surely being the “coop” de theatre.

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