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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

 

On 4 September Euan Macdonald (Hawkins\Brown) and Kevin Jones (UCL) took members on a  special Behind the Scenes tour of one of the world’s most renowned architecture schools. Roger Cline was among the visitors.

The original building was erected in 1974 with funding from Wates the building contractors and hence called Wates House. It had a concrete frame with T-section vertical columns and brick facing, the stems of the eternal columns forming a series of vertical ribs around the building. It housed 380 students and 90 staff over five floors which also included a staff flat. With a three-fold increase of students since then it was decided to refurbish the building to provide bigger and better teaching facilities. Initially the budget was £5million,

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Peter Murray

 

On Tuesday 23rd January Eric Reynolds of Urban Space Management spoke at Allies + Morrison’s offices on the history of the capital’s markets, providing an insight into what is involved in the regeneration of these spaces with case studies of his personal experience. Hannah Smith reports.

Eric provided a brief history of some of the largest London markets, with interesting facts dating back hundreds of years, a more recent fact was that 250,000 turkeys were sold by one wholesaler at Leadenhall market in the 1930’s! Also, interestingly, the original specification that there had to be six or more people gathered together for a space to be classed as a market, they are places we take for granted, where we meet and bond, browse and buy.

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Peter Murray

The Society’s recent sold-out walk with Blue Badge Guide Angela Morgan visited the rejuvenated markets of Spitalfields, Brick Lane and over to the foodies’ paradise of Borough Market. Hannah Murphy went along.

“It was market-morning. The ground was covered, nearly ankle-deep, with filth and mire; a thick steam, perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney-tops, hung heavily above… Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low-grade, were mingled together in a mass…” (Oliver Twist)

On Saturday 27th January, we gathered around the Goat Statue in Bishop’s Square, Spitalfields, to learn about the significant role that street markets have played throughout London’s history. Our tour guide, Angela Morgan, quickly explained that just as a goat climbs a mountain with grit and perseverance, the residents and stall holders of Spitalfields have had to fight to remain culturally relevant in a society that is constantly changing. We discussed rapidly rising business rates and rents, which were pushing SME’s out of the area in search of more affordable rents.

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Peter Murray

 

For our first talk of 2018 the Society had something slightly different – trespassing on London Historians’ patch, Dr Peter Jones of the Centre for Metropolitan History gave a ‘straight’ history talk on the public street markets of the 19th century. However – as with so much about the capital – what happened then has had an influence on now, and several of the features of the market and the lessons of their growth have parallels for today and the planning of the future.

Peter looked at how the rapid growth of the capital in the 18th and 19th centuries meant that a large proportion of the new suburbs – particularly those new areas beyond the traditional confines of the City walls and the City of Westminster – were some distance from the existing licensed, regulated, ‘fixed’ markets, and needed traders (either barrowmen or dealers carrying produce on their backs) to supply food at the lowest prices. This saw the growth of unlicensed street markets in areas such as Whitechapel, Strutton Ground, ‘The Brill’ (Somers Town), the New Cut and Whitecross Street. These were often of some considerable size – over 200 stalls were counted in Whitecross Street on a typical day.

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Peter Murray

 

This year the London Society and its members have enjoyed the Society’s most extensive programme for some years; nearly 60 events attracting close to 2,500 attendees.

One of our major themes for the year was London’s Great Estates, looking at their role in the capital and how their long-term stewardship has shaped the character of some of central London’s best known neighbourhoods. Engaging talks from Grosvenor, Cadogan, the City of London Corporation and Argent, the developer behind the remodelling of King’s Cross, were complemented by walking tours of the areas and privileged access to some distinctive buildings within the estates’ portfolios.

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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

 

On 5 December, Matt Brown, editor at large of the Londonist and author of Everything You Know About London is Wrong, gave the Christmas talk to the Society members at the offices of Pilbrow & Partners in St John’s Square. Jo East reports.

Founded 14 years ago by Matt and other likeminded enthusiasts for all things London, and described by Frank Skinner as “the thinking person’s guide to London” the Londonist has grown to be an online font of knowledge about both London’s current events, and its history and myths. Over the years this has given Matt privileged access to areas denied to most people and Matt took us on a tour of literally the highs and the lows of his time at the Londonist – roofs and tunnels.

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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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