<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d23348393\x26blogName\x3dDeveloping+News\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://developingnews.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_GB\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://developingnews.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-5124240659372430548', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Note: This blog is no longer active - please visit my new site at HAT Projects where you will find our new blog!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006
In brief: South East housing rows, Clyde URC launched, Barrat sign 'historic' deal
The South East Regional Assembly, not to mention the CPRE and all the rest, are up in arms over a report on behalf of the Government Office for the South East that explored growth scenarios of 33,000-46,000 new homes per year in the area. That's as opposed to the Assembly's recommended 28,900 homes. And the Assembly promptly dismissed the Roger Tym and Partners report as "pure fantasy".

A new URC has been launched for the £248m Clyde Gateway project, redeveloping 800ha of land and expected to attract £1.4 billion of private sector investment and create more than 10,000 homes, 400,000m2 of employment space and 21,000 jobs.

Barratt homes has become the first private sector housebuilder to secure funding from the Housing Corporation to build subsidised affordable homes in England, under their new programme.
Unsurprising research: housing
Surprise: London's affordable housing quotas are being met in the cheapest possible way. Well I never.

A London Assembly report concluded that developers would rather build one-bed affordable homes despite family housing being the greatest need - and as a result, there is a surplus of 12,000 one-bed shoeboxes and a shortfall of more that 28,000 family homes. And apparently some of the unscruplous bastards are labelling as 'affordable' homes that cost £400,000.
New guidance on the public realm
Two new things out this week that area of interest:

The ODPM/DfT-sponsored Manual for Streets is out in draft form, placing its foot firmly in the camp of neo-traditional street design for both better and worse. Fundamentally nothing to disagree with too strongly (although some of the criticism of 60s and 70s layouts is needlessly vitriolic and generalised) and certainly a useful tool for anyone confronted with a particularly obtuse highways officer. Its all about the 'streets for people', advocating homes zones and a more subtle hierarchy of streets than the old distributor-major-minor distinctions. However, I don't think it gets to the bottom of what it wistfully refers to as a 'sense of place' or the 'place function', and how to analyse and build this into local street design at all. No real understanding of the distinctive fingerprint of contemporary places and how they can be strengthened in character...

Also, the DCLG has released a review of all existing green space and public space research that's out there. Its comprehensive and very useful, also identifying the gaps in the research that need to be filled - such as health and green spaces, and intergenerational play.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Asda pulls out of Queens' Market
Many of you will already have read this at the weekend, but Asda announced that it is pulling out of the controversial Queens' Market redevelopment in Newham. Somehow Newham council think that replacing a vibrant, multi-ethnic fresh food market with a retail mall and superstore is a good thing. Well - we all know why, of course: higher retail rents, a more 'desirable' location for high value stores, cleaning up the area, etc etc. Money, principally - but none of those other government buzzwords such as social captial, healthy living, community cohesion, safer public space, walkable neighbourhoods catering to all.

Yet despite Asda's pullout, the council still insists it will go ahead with the St Modwen development of the market and simply find another anchor tenant. However, it is a huge victory for those interested in socially conscious development, and I will be really surprised to see if another supermarket chain agrees to go in on such tainted ground.
Design for London officially launched
From today's AJ online:

Ken Livingstone’s architecture and urbanism unit is to be merged with the London Development Agency’s (LDA’s) design team. The new organisation, called Design for London, will also be required to work closely with Transport for London’s urban-design staff and the Olympic Delivery Authority.

These wholesale changes will include the appointment of a new director of design for London, a position that will be recruited imminently. There will also be a new Design for London Advisory Group, which will be chaired by the mayor’s current architecture advisor Richard Rogers.

The new quango will be based with the LDA, which is about to move into Will Alsop’s Palestra Building in Southwark.

Of course everyone knows that Ricky Burdett is manoevring to keep his position at the top of this new organisation, as he was at the A+UU. It will be interesting to see who really does get it, and who gets to be on that advisory group.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Olympics update
Various Olympic-related news came out last week. The whole Stratford City debacle is finally sorted out with Westfield agreeing to buy everyone else out. Huge sighs of relief all round. Then the ODA announced its plans and timescale for the new sailing facilities in Weymouth leading up to a planning application next spring. It's going to be 'world class', surprise surprise...

But in the main news David Higgins got up in front of the London Assembly for a major update. Among many other things, he also refused to say that costs wouldn't rise, and appeared to renege on a previous pledge to pay all workers on the site a 'living wage'. Meanwhile, Alan Johnson announced £20m for training women in construction skills prior to 2012 - so they can all add to the huge number of badly-paid women, then! Hooray. Other regeneration commitments appeared to be dropped through the new planning application, it was reported, and the proportion of affordable housing may fall due to using Stratford City to provide a third of the Olympic housing. Already the vision starts to crack.

Higgins also set out the next ten milestones for delivery which include announcing the ODA's programme timetable, publication of the procurement strategy for stakeholder consultation and the appointment of a full ODA executive team by July. In August they hope to appoint the Delivery Partner, the programme manager for the Olympic Park construction and infrastructure work as well as starting the stadium procurement process some time this summer.

They will publish the Olympic Transport Plan for consultation in September; progress on the procurement of the Aquatics Centre later this year; and, following the publication of the new masterplan, the submission of a new planning application for the Olympic Park site in January next year.

I feel like they are weirdy both behind and cantering along at full pace. It makes me exhausted just thinking about it all!
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Design statements to be compulsory
Announced yesterday, design and access statements will be required for all planning applications except householder, change of use and engineering and mining operations from 10 August. This is potentially very important, if planners now refuse to accept the kind of tokenist statements that I've seen for so many developments. Otherwise, as with most policy changes in planning, it'll make sod all difference.

But to help you all through the new process, our favorite people over at CABE towers have published a natty little guide to how to write a good one. Hey ho, another document for the shelf. And in a little plug for my professional life, this is one of the things that we're really good at helping with as part of our services...

Full details of what the design statements have to include are:
- The design process – how the scheme has been informed by a rigorous process of assessment, involvement, evaluation and design
- Amount – how much would be built on the site
- Use – what buildings and spaces will be used for
- Layout – how the buildings and public and private spaces will be arranged on the site, and the relationship between them and the buildings and spaces around the site
- Scale – how big the buildings and spaces would be
- Appearance – what the buildings and spaces will look like, for example, building materials and architectural details
- Landscaping – how open spaces will be treated to enhance and protect the character of a place
- Access – how everyone could get to and move through the place, and why the access points and routes have been chosen
Doh! Parks are nice, parks add value
Another one for the file of 'research pointing out the obvious' - Savills have done a survey that says that people like living near parks and will pay more for the privilege. Really?

"Homes next to an open space can expect an uplift in value of 12 per cent over properties in the same location with no park views. Even the presence of a park up to two streets away will result in an average 7 per cent uplift compared to streets with the same type of property away from open space."

Savills argues that, as a result of these findings, developers can add value to their schemes by leaving some of the area as open space. And although I mock, it is important that a source who the development sector trusts tells them this important fact. the next bit would of course to quantify the added value that quality of open space brings - i.e. it's no use having a handkerchief-sized 'park' with scraggy grass - design and location and an integrated public space strategy really count for something. Which again, you might think was a no-brainer - but its amazing how few people actually know how to do this well.
Back in action
The work-related stress hell that has made posting so very infrequent has finally ended...so you can look forward to (or sigh in despair at) much more frequent updates from the messy world of trying to build stuff and make places better. (Or just building stuff - bigger and badder than everyone else...)
Friday, June 09, 2006
Olympic Masterplan slims up
The Olympic Delivery Authority has unveiled its revised masterplan for the 2012 Olympics. Though on paper the changes appear to be a mere shuffling around of elements, there will apparently be significant changes on the ground. The revised landscaping proposal, according to the AJ, will stick "far more closely to the existing topography" - good news for twitchers and essex cyclists everywhere. Some sporting events have been decanted from the main site and there is apparently renewed focus on temporary structures and legacy.

Warm feelings currently surrounding David Higgins: all this is precisely what a large quantity of interested parties have been waiting for.