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

 

London National Park City will be launched in May 2019. The concept already has a large following among Londoners as well as the support of Mayor Sadiq Kahn, and was covered in a London Society event earlier this year. The enthusiasm with which the idea has been received reflects the importance that we collectively place on green space in the capital.

Next year, one of the key strands of the Society’s programme will be around the topic of our legacy of squares, parks and metropolitan green spaces. We’ll look at our regional parks in the Lee, Wandle and Colne Valleys and at our common lands and forests.

But also we’ll study the problems that our local parks are facing because of cuts in borough funding; we’ll discuss the frustrations of park users when they find their ‘public’ space enclosed in order to accommodate a pop concert or a winter fair and we’ll look at the management of privately-owned, publicly-accessible space (POPS).

Green space is just one of the key London issues we will be focusing on over the next 12 months. I hope you will join us to share thinking and debate their role in delivering the sort of capital we want to live in.

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Peter Murray

 

A new book has a slightly different take on the capital, looking at the life of the city through the eyes of 24 individuals (one for each hour of the day). Tim Barron reviews the book.

“London Lives –   24 iconic people & places around the clock” is exactly what it says it is, 24 times and locations in text and photographs summing up the life of the capital’s working inhabitants.

The photo locations often dictate who is interviewed but sometimes it is the other way round. So we meet Tower bridge keeper Chris Earlie (overseer of 900 bridge lifts a year) and Zandra Rhodes, fashion designer (self confessed Princess of Punk), in their respective work places. Danny Rosenbaum’s text meshes with Tom Vandervell’s detailed large format photography often evoking memories. For example, for me the view from the General Wolfe statue in Greenwich park (surely the best view of London ) recalls happy times spent at the Royal Observatory and the shot of St Paul’s Cathedral choir stalls takes me back to graduating as a London Blue Badge Guide. That is one of the joys of this lavishly illustrated work, finding the familiar alongside the newly discovered. There are plenty of “Oh I didn’t know that” moments, for example did you know there are Yoga classes on Tower bridge glass walkway 42 metres above the Thames?

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Peter Murray

 

a5-christmas-flyer_r2front_hr-copy-2If you know someone who loves London, why not give them a membership to the London Society this Christmas?

They’ll get all the benefits of membership – reduced rate tickets for talks and lectures, priority booking for walks and tours, an invite to the summer party and the Banister Fletcher lecture, plus the Society Journal.

And there’s a little something extra if you give a gift subscription before 16 December.

We’ll mail you a bonus issue of the Journal and a card so you have something to wrap and to send to the lucky recipient.

Gift memberships run from 25 December for 12 months, so new members will get a full year’s worth of events to take advantage of.

You can give either an individual membership or a dual/family membership, just click on one of the images below.

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Gift membership – dual/family

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Gift Membership  – individuals

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Peter Murray

 

There was a full house last night for this year’s Banister Fletcher Lecture given by Ben Derbyshire, President of the RIBA. We hope to have a write-up of the talk on the blog very soon, along with the slides from the presentation.

Ben mentioned several papers and projects in his talk, and we thought it would be useful to make some of those links available.

  • The London Society ‘Green Sprawl‘ paper is now out of print, but you can download a PDF here>>
  • Ben’s paper ‘Building Greater London‘ can also be downloaded (or you can buy a print copy) here>>
  • There’s more on the ‘Supurbia‘ concept on HTA Design’s site here>>
  • The RIBA paper ‘Ten Characteristics of Places Where People Want to Live’ is to be found here>>

We’d also be very interested to find out your views about the London Society and ways in which we can improve what we do – if you have ten minutes to spare, please have a look at our survey.

And don’t forget to nominate London’s Worst Public Sculpture – more information on that can be found here.

Finally, if you’re not currently a member of the Society we’d love you to join. Full details are here.

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