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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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Peter Murray

 

To mark the release of Professor Richard Sennett’s new publication Building and Dwelling: Ethics for the City, Southwark Cathedral and publisher Penguin Random House are delighted to host a panel discussion looking at how cities are built and how people live in them. The London Society has a limited number of tickets available for members, which can be purchased here.

Chaired by the Revd Canon Giles Goddard, Vicar at St John’s Waterloo the panel features some of London’s leading thinkers on the urban environment, Professor Richard Sennett, Mike Hayes and Noha Nasser, and this should be a fascinating discussion on the future of thriving ‘open’ cities.

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Peter Murray

The last in the Planning School series of lectures – The Future of Planning – was held on 18 November at the Building Centre in Store Street with Zoe Green – Strategic Urban Planner at PriceWaterhouseCooper. Jo East was present.

Zoe Green advises cities across the globe on how to prepare for “4IR” – The Fourth Industrial Revolution that many believe we are entering right now. Promising to tackle broad themes, Zoe did just that taking in all the new technologies from synthetic biology, through 3D printing to the “Internet of things” (machines communicating directly with each other) unpacking these buzzwords as she went. The good news is that by looking at various indicators her recent report believes that London is 59% ready in preparedness to implement these technologies – Only Singapore scores higher although this drops to 42% on a Matrix of Social Readiness.

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Peter Murray

 

The fourth of the Society’s Saturday Morning Planning School talks was on Saturday 11th November 2017 with Rachel Fisher (Head of Infrastructure in the Cities and Local Growth Unit at DCLG) explloring the flip side of local growth – can places become too successful? Drawing on international and UK examples, the talk explored the relationship between planning policy and what happens in reality. Barry Coidan reports.

On Saturday we were treated to Rachel Fisher’s enlivening personal view on how growth happens on the ground in towns and cities here and around the world.

Rachel began with the general and took us down to the particular – Harlow, a planned town in Essex, and Haringey, a not so planned borough of London. On the way we visited New York, Bologna and Bilbao.

In general terms the conditions for growth (and prosperity) are: good jobs, homes (affordable and market priced) and connectivity – be that broadband or transport links. We’re all urban now. The 21st century is the century of cities and London takes its place as a global city – with a huge population vying for limited space. Imagine the functions of New York, Washington and Los Angeles in one place – that’s London. Its size, economy and status means it has a disproportionate impact on the rest of the UK. Scaling a map based on population, the UK looks grotesquely distorted – with London bloating out much of England south of the Wash.

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Peter Murray

 

The third of the Society’s Saturday Morning Planning School talks was on Saturday 4th November 2017 with Dr Paul Watt of Birkbeck College University of London discussing regeneration projects: what is meant by ‘urban regeneration’ and an examination of  what is referred to as ‘sports-led regeneration’ with particular analysis of the 2012 London Olympic Games. Barry Coidan reports.

Dr Watt’s talk – “London 2012 and the post – Olympics city – a hollow legacy?” began with an overview of urban policy, and regeneration in the UK and Europe. We then looked at recent Olympic Games and their raison d’être besides being sporting spectacles, before focusing on the London 2012 Olympics and its stated aims, the geographical area it was to impact on and its outcomes.

Urban Policy is broad brush: focused on area or territorial impact, not geared to a specific clientele, service provision or benefits. Regeneration seeks to bring about physical renewal as well as social and economic improvement to the area affected. This change is to be sustainable and achieved through a mix of private, public and voluntary sector involvement.

There was, however, little evidence that government decision making recognised that urban regeneration affected different people differently. This lack of recognition in developing a regeneration strategy – asking who it was for, who are to be the real beneficiaries – would impact on the desired outcomes.  

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Peter Murray

 

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on London’s Planning and Built Environment met on 31 October. David Taylor, editor of the NLA’s New London Quarterly, reports.

© BAR Productions Joe Howard

London must patch up its relationship with the public over so-called affordable housing by defining its parameters more realistically. But City Hall is aiming to help address quality and the housing shortfall across the capital through more intervention over land assembly, a commitment to tackling supply with new methods of construction across many tenures and a new name-and-shame database on rogue landlords.

Those were some of the key issues to emerge from the recent meeting of the APPG for London’s Planning and Built Environment at Portcullis House.

Chair Rupa Huq, MP for Ealing Central and Acton, introduced the session on how we can deliver genuine high quality homes for Londoners and address a crisis over affordable provision.

Deputy mayor for housing and residential development James Murray said that there had been ‘remarkably few’ opportunities to tighten up the speed of getting the new draft London Plan into place, but that it is expected on 29 November. The story of London over the last two decades, though, was of a 40% increase in jobs, 25% climb in population and 15% in housing supply. ‘It has been a story of jobs and economic success, but housing failure’, he said. ‘It simply hasn’t kept up with demand’. There is an ‘affordability gulf’ in what we are building, and although traditional housebuilders have a large role to play they tend to focus on the high-end homes for sale. London needs some 66,000 homes a year, according to new GLA figures, with 2/3 of them having to be affordable.

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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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