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Peter Murray

 

The Society’s new motto of “Valuing the past; looking to the future” will be apparent in everything we do in 2019, with talks, lectures, debates and panel discussions that will look at the future of London through the lens of our city’s history.

The main themes this year include the use and development of Parks and Open Spaces in the capital. The green space in the city is the envy of other capitals, but government cost-cutting has had a negative impact on local authorities’ maintenance budgets and at the same time there is local resistance to the increasing number of events in public parks. This year the Society will have a series of talks and visits around the subject, as well as an ‘ideas competition’ to ask how parks can meet the needs of visitors, residents and fund raising.

We also have a great series of talks, walks, tours and other events on the evolution and challenges to London’s high streets. It’s a truism that London is a collection of villages and neighbourhoods, and vibrant high streets are important to the individual character of each area. How do these places survive? What can planners, architects, local and national government, and us as individuals, do to keep these centres vibrant and thriving.

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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

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

 

This year’s RTPI London summit is on 28 November at TMRW in Croydon, and it focuses on how planners in London can deliver good growth in the suburbs.

The Summit is open to all (tickets are available here) and its objectives are:

  • To explore the big issues affecting the London planning community in 2018 with a focus on outer London.
  • To share current best practice and precedents
  • To provide updates on live issues including the London Plan
  • To provide a networking opportunity for London town planners drawn from public, private and third sectors.

The line up so far is pretty impressive and includes: James Murray, Deputy Mayor, GLA | Stewart Murray, LB Waltham Forest | Jo Negrini, LB Croydon | Heather Cheesbrough, LB Croydon| Lisa Taylor, Future of London | Ollie Spragley, the Collective | Chloe Phelps, Brick by Brick | Kevin Logan, Maccreanor Lavington | Paul Hunter, The Smith Institute | Plus more to be confirmed.

Tickets for the full day can be found here.

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Peter Murray

 

The final talk in this year’s Planning School was given by Euan Mills (Future Cities) and Professor Mark Brearley (London Metropolitan University). Barry Coidan reports.

Euan Mills is the Urban Planning and Design lead in charge of Future Cities Catapult’s Future of Planning Programme. Euan talked quickly: he had to he had a lot to get in a very short space of time. Technology is changing us, it’s changing how we live, work and interact. It’s changing businesses and how we do business. Where we do business, where we live is more and more in cities. But our cities are analogue, tied down with analogue planning systems. The city environment is changing rapidly driven by digitalisation and big data, but looking at the planning system you’d think the last 20 years hadn’t happened.

Not so long ago the most valuable companies by share capital were those involved in energy, metal bashing and heavy industry. Now those companies have surrendered their place to the data companies. The companies that have grown up in the last 20 years – Google, Facebook, Amazon etc – as we enter the fourth industrial revolution.

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Peter Murray

 

For the second year the London Society has run its ‘Planning School’, a linked series of five talks from planning experts on different aspects of the process and investigating just what it is that planners are trying to achieve and the obstacles that they are attempting to overcome.

The first of the 2018 series had Dr David Knight (DK – CM) and Guy Rochez (Senior Project Officer, London Borough of Croydon) speaking. Barry Coidan reports.

We know what we think about the planning laws don’t we? That extension – looks oversized to me – did they seek planning permission? That new block of flats – NIMBY!!

Dr David Knight unpacked our planning laws and in doing so showed what a Pandora’s Box we’d created…and how we can put it back in the box mixing my metaphors.

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Peter Murray

 

After the success of the 2017 series, we are very pleased to announce five further talks in our ‘Planning School’. Book for all five for the price of just four – and non-members who book for the whole series will be given 12 months individual membership of the Society.

To find out more and to book, click here

The planning system is a complex world of jargon-filled regulations, inscrutable maps and emotionally charged meetings. It is inhabited by an unseemly mixture of politicians, developers and consultants, with ordinary local people often bearing the brunt of their deals in the high streets and neighbourhood roads where we live. It is often blamed for blighting our beloved places with ugly buildings, and yet is similarly accused of holding back the development we need to meet pentup housing demand.

Planning is one of the most visible and potent outworkings of our democracy. It is the forum that safeguards by law our rights as citizens to influence the places we live and work in the city.

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Peter Murray

 

In association with CityMetric, the New Statesman’s online urbanism magazine, the Society held a panel debate on what the shape of the capital might be in thirty years time, and what we might need to change about current practices in order to accommodate a population that is projected to be 11 million.

Chaired by Jonn Elledge of CityMetric, the panel comprised include Jeremy Skinner of the GLA, Neil Bennett of Farrell’s, Rose Grayston of Shelter and Nicole Badstuber from UCL. Finbar Bradley of Innes Associates reports.

A great deal of concern has cloaked the usually glistening future of London in recent times. Some fear that the wheels of progression may be failing with the addition of a grinding Brexit, and others fear that even if this had no effect on the interminable revolutions of our economy, that the simple mechanics of the City are not designed to allow for further progression.

Jeremy Skinner of the GLA and producer of the report aimed at predicting the needs of London’s infrastructure in 2050 quoted that London’s current infrastructure is a ‘highly fragmented chaos’ delivering a score card of London’s infrastructure of a thoroughly unsatisfactory “not best in class.”

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Peter Murray

 

We’re very pleased to be able to add a couple of extra speakers to the Planning for the Unknown: London in 2050 panel discussion that the London Society is running in association with CityMetric next week.

  •  Jeremy Skinner, Senior Manager of Growth and Enterprise at the GLA, who led the team that produced the London Infrastructure Plan to 2050
  • Neil Bennett, lead partner at Farrells architect/planning practice for strategic infrastructure and urban design projects
  • Rose Grayston, policy manager at the housing charity Shelter
  • Nicole Badstuber, a doctoral researcher in urban transport governance and policy at UCL and Knowledge Exchange Coordinator at the UCL Transport Institute.

The discussion will be chaired by Jonn Elledge of CityMetric. If you want to know how London might evolve in the next three decades, or if you have opinions you’d like to share, come along to what will be a fascinating debate on our possible futures.

There are some tickets still available here.

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Peter Murray

 

This year’s strand on ‘Planning for 10 Million Londoners’ has a series of talks and debates that look at some of the challenges that face us all over the next decade, as the capital’s population nudges upwards, but what might face us over the horizon?

It can seem almost nonsensical to try to put together a plan for London for 30 years into the future – think of the changes that have taken place since 1988, in technology, transport, demographics, ways of working, leisure activities, retail – but planning decisions that are made now will have an effect on the London of 2050, so what should we be aware of?

We’re planning a joint event with CityMetric, the online urbanism magazine, to examine what the capital might look like midway through the century. Speakers include Jeremy Skinner of the GLA, Neil Bennett of Farrell’s and the discussion will be chaired by Jonn Elledge of CityMetric.

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