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Peter Murray

 

The latest edition of ‘Planning in London’, the magazine of the London Planning and Development Forum has just been published and can be read below. (also available to download as a PDF here.)

On page 56 you can read Daniel Moylan’s piece “The Planning System is Broken Beyond Repair”, the text of his talk at the recent London Society/RTPI London debate.

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Peter Murray

In a joint event with RTPI London, Daniel Moylan, former Deputy Chairman of Transport for London and former Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, asked if the Planning system in London is not now so anti-market and so anti-people in its outcomes that it would not be better to abolish it and start again with a much lighter touch. Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, responded. Joanna Day was in the audience.

It is perhaps inevitable that a debate entitled ‘The Planning System: Broken Beyond Repair’ will create a lively discussion with strongly held, contrary, views from those working in the field or interfacing with it. The event did not disappoint.

Those spending their time dealing with planning authorities at a local day-to-day level often have the perception of a malfunctioning, under-resourced system. What is not necessarily thought about so often is the wider picture: the purpose and future of the overall system.

It’s hard to work out where to stand in defending or attacking the planning system. It’s easy to be critical of many of the processes and the outcomes. And many authorities are clearly under-resourced. However, it remains a system there to function democratically and protect the public good, and so a poorly functioning system might be better than none…?

Within this context, it was of interest to hear Daniel Moylan’s thesis that the planning system is a broken one at a systemic level, controlled, he posits, largely by the developers and beyond redemption. That where some see democracy he sees lobbying, and that it is a distorted market that is underperforming, not a real one.

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Peter Murray

 

There is a new series of debates about London for 2019. The London Society and RTPI London are working together on six events that will look at different aspects of life in the city and examine the controversies behind them, and suggest ways in which planners and urbanists can improve things.

The first is on 6 February and looks at air pollution in the capital. Over 50 years on from London’s Great Smog and the original Clean Air Act of 1956 the streets of London continue to have toxic levels of pollution. Thousands of Londoners continue to die prematurely each year as a result of small particulates in the atmosphere. In 2018, legal limits for pollutants were breached by January.

You will hear from speakers at the sharp end of the battle to improve London’s air quality. You will learn more about the Mayor’s strategy for improving the air quality in the City as well as campaigners who have successfully challenged the UK Government in the high court. To book your tickets, click here.

On 5 March Daniel Moylan, former Deputy Chairman of Transport for London and former Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, will ask if the planning system in London is not now so anti-market and so anti-people in its outcomes that it would not be better to abolish it and start again with a much lighter touch. He’ll be answered by Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the RTPI in what will be a fascinating discussion for planners and non-planners alike. Tickets can be found here.

Further debates include an examination of some of London’s recent planning battles,looking at how controversial buildings and developments got through the planning process and the effect that opposition had; there will be a panel discussion around how we plan a city that works for all of the population; and we’ll look at privately owned public spaces – a growing phenomenon in the capital, but what are the implications for the public realm?

To be informed of the whole series and when booking opens for each event, sign up for the London Society newsletter.

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Peter Murray

This event is now SOLD OUT!
Please add your name to the waitlist and you will be contacted should a space become available.

Tuesday, 5 March 2019, 6:30 – 8:30

Is the Planning system destroying hope and opportunity for Londoners? Is it delivering what Londoners need? Is it reformable or is the system now broken beyond repair?

Daniel Moylan, former Deputy Chairman of Transport for London and former Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council, asks if the Planning system in London is not now so anti-market and so anti-people in its outcomes that it would not be better to abolish it and start again with a much lighter touch.

Responding to Daniel’s polemic will be Victoria Hills, Chief Executive of the Royal Town Planning Institute, who will provide her take on the current system, and there will be questions from the audience.

Anyone with an interest – professional or personal – in London’s planning and development will find much to think about in what should be an intelligent and freewheeling debate.

The evening is the second in a series of six debates organised by The London Society and RTPI London that look at different aspects of London’s urban planning and how the process affects us all.

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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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