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Note: This blog is no longer active - please visit my new site at HAT Projects where you will find our new blog!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Post lapse
I am a naughty blogger. But life has been busy in both personal and professional spheres with lots of exciting stuff. And to be honest I don't know when/if this is going to change massively but I will try to keep up. And in the thought that most people read this blog via RSS I'm resurrecting an old del.icio.us tag and splicing it into the feed so that at least I can track some of the interesting stuff that I come across but don't have time to post about properly. Very 'lazyblog' of me, I know...but needs must. Sorry.

Meanwhile, one thing that caught my eye recently was this article by Madeleine Bunting touched on many issues that I'm interested in, though I don't agree with all of her analysis. I guess it depends on how you start thinking about the middle class, partly, as well as how you start to define 'rural' - and the countryside, in a broad-ish definition, is certainly not as homogenous or NIMBY-ish as she presumes.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Quick bits from the murky world of development
The £1bn Liverpool Baltic project has collaped into administration. Unbelievable, really, that such a massive project can be so badly planned and run.

Everyone already knows this but in case you don't, British Land beat out Stuart Lipton's Chelsfield Partners to bag Euston Station's redevelopment.

Apparently commercial development is at its highest level for three years.

And Prince Charles will appear, bizarrely, by videolink at this year's Think regeneration conference, on May Day.
Cultural Planning Toolkit
Oh, the Canadians. I had the task of submitting a tender for a Cultural Planning Toolkit to be funded by DCMS last year. We didn't get it, though we got close...

But now I see that the Canadians have got there first and, from at least my very brief glance, done it better than anything resulting from a trial-by-committee British approach to such things. Here is their version of a CPT.

Wonderfully, it doesn't even mention the word 'art' in the introduction, except in a sentence about European approaches. It talks about cultural planning as a "way of looking at all aspects of a community's cultural life as community assets...Understanding culture and cultural activity as resources for human and community development, rather than merely as cultural 'products' to be subsidised because they are good for us...and when our understanding of culture is inclusive and broader than the traditionally Eurocentric vision of 'high culture' then we have increase the assets with which we can address civic goals."

When was the last time you saw a piece of British policy talk about 'civic goals'? It is all similarly good stuff - clear writing about pride of place and local identity, and the idea of 'democratic cultural policy'. It has a very clear step-by-step process to cultural planning, based on a community mapping and participatory approach, and including a great list of the downsides to planning - "planning isn't magic...planning can become a subsittue for action" and others.

And it has the best policy definition of 'culture' that I've come across: "Culture is what counts as culture to the people involved - the shared beliefs, customs, rituals and values of a people in a given place and at a given time."

Simple and bold. Couldn't see DCMS coming up with that one.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
Quick links
Oh, sorry...I've been way too busy to post recently. And am about to escape for Easter to a place with no internet. So here's a rather dry round-up of some recent things that caught my eye.

Vinoly has beat Fosters on their own territory, winning the contract to develop plans for Battersa Power Station under its new owners. It will remain to be seen whether his plans will get built, however - given the lengthy history of discarded schemes that the site carries.

Another in the list of white elephants, the always ridiculous scheme for a huge indoor ski slope in Sheffield is going down the pan, as the developer Menta is on the point of entering adminstration, with huge financial problems.

The competition for designers for Barking Riverside has been launched. And in the Kent gateway, Land Secs is going to venture into housebuilding in order to keep closer control of the quality of its huge Ebbsfleet sites. With the growth of mixed-use as a sine qua non in contemporary development, this doesn't surprise me and is an interesting move.

You can look forward to a complete restructure of Building Regulations, just about the time you manage to figure out the new Part L. Abolishing planning permission for micro-generation equipment moved a step closer this week. Last week Building had quite a useful round-up that weighs up the effectiveness of micro-generation options. And public buildings will have to publicly display their energy consumption from next year.

Last week Design for London announced the membership of its advisory group which includes many usual suspects (Farshid Moussavi, Hanif Kara, Kees Christianse) alongside Spencer de Grey and David Levitt.

And in the comedy news of the week, Ashford Future's CEO has resigned after porn was found on his computer...Everything you think about men in the development industry is clearly true.