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Note: This blog is no longer active - please visit my new site at HAT Projects where you will find our new blog!

Friday, March 24, 2006
Miliband blogs
David Miliband, our Minister for Communities [yeuch to the job title] has a blog. This is interesting in its own right but one post was particularly pertinent to my own concerns:

Here he writes:

I have been sent a thoughtful book called Transforming Cities: Revival in the Square by Nick Corbett, which takes this simple idea - pride in the public realm - and applies the concept to public space.
A lot of the excitement about modern urban renewal is focused on new buildings - the Sage in Gateshead; the Bullring in Birmingham...
But the argument of the book is that healthy communities depend on shared space and not just shared buildings. (By contrast tyrannical regimes tend to hate the idea of public shared space: the book points out that General Franco placed strict rules and control over the use of public squares).
Public space creates community - from public art to cafe culture.
The planning system gives Local Authorities the power to make a difference, and they need to use it.

Yes, David, and...? This is shorthand for 'I'm really interested in this area but I don't know how to make it into policy-speak'. But he has hit the nail on the head, although he doesn't know how to make it happen. Genuinely public spaces don't just come into being as soon as you make a square. They need integrating with the local context, they need programming and sensitized design processes. And of course if he really wanted, he could come and talk to us about how we'd do it...

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