Currently showing blog posts for: October 2018 - . Go BACK to view all posts.
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

The capital is blessed with a large number of wonderful public sculptures – but also cursed with those that are trite, ill-conceived or amateurishly executed.

Together with London Historians, the London Society wants to shine a light on those sculptures and statues that blight our public spaces.

We’ll be doing this in two parts. In the run up to the end of the year we’re asking you to nominate the sculpture(s) that you feel ought to be melted down, broken up, or otherwise removed from public gaze.

In the New Year we’ll take the top ten nominations and put these out to a public vote to decide which are the capital’s most-reviled.

The poll results will be announced at a joint London Historians/London Society event in February – an evening of positivity, as we will be discussing the people, things or events that London should be celebrating and which so far are not commemorated.

You can nominate your sculptural eyesores by clicking here, or by tweeting using the hashtag #BadLondonSculpture

Old or new sculptures can be nominated, the only requirement being that they are in public spaces (so a statue in e.g. a park, station, street or shopping centre would be fine, inside e.g. a building lobby or a church would not).

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Peter Murray

 

The October-December 2018 issue of Planning in London magazine has just been published. Contributors include Mariead Carroll, Riëtte Oosthuizen, Andrew Rogers, Paul Smith, Simon Bath, Julia Park, Ben Taylor, Louise Brooke-Smith and Paul Finch (among others).

You can read the full edition online below or download a PDF here.

 

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Peter Murray

 

A large and knowledgeable audience were treated to a “Celebration” of street furniture when the Society welcomed back Matt Brown of the essential Londonist website. Jo East reports.

From phone boxes to stink pipes Matt “set out his stall” that this could only be a canter through the various street furniture that gave such interest to this great city of ours.

Beginning with phone boxes Matt briefly outlined the history of the K Series and taught us to identify our K2s (bigger with a regular lattice of panes) from our K6s. (Smaller and with glass recalling old celluloid film – Big frame in the middle and smaller runners down the side) and then talked about how they had been repurposed throughout the city as mobile tech takes over. From a flower kiosk in Russell Square to a book exchange in Lewisham inventive uses have been found for these structures that, being listed, often have to grace our streets long passed the time of their original purpose. Diverting briefly into the sociological significance of tart cards – A 30 year collection now held by the Wellcome Trust to reflect our changing taste, tech and morés – Matt then moved on to post boxes: We saw a map of all the relatively rare Edward VIII boxes. Outer London reigning supreme reflecting the direction of development at that time. As before the more interesting uses to which various redundant boxes had been put were shown. A city farm chicken hutch surely being the “coop” de theatre.

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Peter Murray

 

The third of this year’s Planning School looked at the always relevant subject of housing – if we need to house more people, surely the city needs to become more dense and therefore taller? Joanna Day listened to Claire Bennie and Lorraine Hughes.

There is, according to Claire Bennie, a lot of ‘fake news’ about density. It is a slippery concept that is hard to relate to on a human level. How many of us know what density we live at? Not many can define their own experience of home and environment in terms of a ‘per hectare’ measurement – the chosen unit used when we talk about density. And this unit neglects grain. Are we talking about my flat, my estate, my borough, my city or country? Each will give a different figure. And yet, the whole issue is about people, and this was Claire Bennie’s central point.

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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

 

Eric Reynolds, the Founding Director of Urban Space Management spoke to the Society about one of his early projects – the development of Camden Lock market. Roger Cline reports.

Your reviewer lived close to Camden Lock for 30 years up to the Millennium and since then regularly has to weave his way through the crowds wandering between the tube station and the market. In fact the lock by Camden High Street is Hampstead Road Lock and the adjoining one to the east is Hawley Road Lock. From there the canal descends through many locks to the Thames at Limehouse. To the west there is a long level stretch through the Regents Park to Little Venice and beyond.

Camden Town was the centre of the piano-making industry and Dingwalls Timber Merchants specialised in making packing cases for pianos, leasing a site by the canal to receive their wood and possibly to send away the packed pianos. To have a piano in one’s front room was no longer an essential feature of households with aspirations, so Dingwall’s ceased trading around 1970.

Our speaker, Eric Reynolds, was one of three partners who took over the Dingwall’s lease from British Waterways. He is managing Director of Urban Space Management ,but has other interests in structures made of Shipping Containers, interim use of land and many charitable organisations. Running the market was really a sideline for all three partners, Eric was a boat-builder so the dock just upstream of the lock was put to good use, another partner was a doctor and the third was a surveyor. In the seventies the alternative lifestyles of young people created a market for non-essential items which could be made at home and sold at a stall on a Saturday.

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Peter Murray

 

If you’d like to come along to some of our events for free, why not volunteer to help out?

We always need people to help put out chairs at the venue, check tickets at the door, sort out the post-talk refreshments and assist with tidying up afterwards.

If you feel you could offer some time, please email events@londonsociety.org.uk and we’ll be in touch.

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Peter Murray

 

This month the Society goes out to Romford to visit Gidea Park, a very interesting but little-known purpose-built garden suburb closely linked to Hampstead Garden Suburb. A competition was held for houses on the site and by 1911, 159 houses and cottages had been built.  The designs were for detached houses costing £500 and cottages costing £375.  Eminent architects like Barry Parker and Raymond Unwin, Baillie Scott, Curtis Green, Clough Williams-Ellis and Ashbee took part. Another competitive exhibition, on a smaller scale, was held in 1934.  Berthold Lubetkin’s and Tecton won first prize for a house at 64 Heath Drive. Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and Noel Coward all had connections with the Park. Noel Edmonds, the TV personality, was brought up there.

The idea of competitions for housing is an interesting one; I and Ben Derbyshire – President of the RIBA and our Banister Fletcher lecturer this year have been trying to set one up for London but so far the funding has not been forthcoming; there is greater interest in the idea in the other metro cities. We need to be able to shoe what the best of new development can be like – and certainly Gidea Park provides a good example of how that can be done while creating a permanent place for people to live.

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