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Peter Murray

 

15 May saw the Society meet at Pilbrow and Partners to hear Rebecca Barrett, Principal Adviser of the London Heritage at Risk team at Historic England talk about some of London’s most interesting and unusual sites at risk. Ian Morrison reports.

The event was introduced by Fred Pilbrow of the practice, who described some of the work his firm is doing with heritage sites (including 8 Albert Embankment; the Wren church of St. Mary Somerset; and the old EMD cinema in Walthamstow) before handing over to Rebecca Barrett.

Rebecca heads the team at Historic England which produces the annual Heritage at Risk (HAR) Register. This gives priority to sites (mainly residential buildings and places of worship but also monuments, parks, public buildings, gardens and cemeteries) at risk of falling into serious neglect and disrepair. The causes can range from one-off events such as a fire to functional redundancy through to lack of maintenance.

This year is the 20th anniversary of the register. The current version (2017) contains 5290 assets, which is 97 fewer than in 2016. There is a lot of churn as new ones come on and repair or restoration enables others to be removed. There are still 450 from the first register in 1998. The aim is to see an annual net reduction.

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Peter Murray

 

The second in our series of ‘Planning School’ talks was held on 28 October at the Building Centre in Store Street (in association with the Building Environment Trust), with Dr Paul Watt of Birkbeck talking about Social/Affordable Housing in London. Ian R Morrison was in the audience.

A fascinating talk on social housing in London with research that Dr Watt has been doing on estates, illustrated with slides and statistics.

Social housing is allocated on the basis of need, rather than demand and price (market forces). Its alternatives are the private rented sector and owner occupation. Provision varies between countries. At around 20%, the UK is higher than in the U.S., but not as high as other countries in Europe. Its prevalence is determined by political choices, for example social democrat traditions in parts of Europe.

Affordable housing is promoted to help solve the ‘housing crisis’, particularly in London. But affordable can take a number of forms, from being based on local incomes to being tied to a percentage of market rent. But how affordable is affordable? A limit of 80% of market rent in East Village Stratford (the Olympics site) is still out of reach of many local people. The Mayor’s new strategy of ‘genuinely affordable’ will aim to address this.

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