.

.
Click above for what became the consented plan, plus Transport page.

2015-03-25

The Guardian: "On Sweets Way, Barnet, the great ignored are finding ways to assert themselves"


"Protests at a London housing estate show dissent is possible against the forces of privilege and finance"

Link to web site

" 'They think we’re a piece of furniture,' Kauthar says, her tone one of defiance and incredulity. 'We're not a sofa or a table, we’re actually human beings.' She oozes determination.

"Along with the rest of her community, Kauthar faces eviction from Sweets Way estate in Barnet, north London, because a tax exile wants to bulldoze their homes to make way for luxury homes. Oh, and 59 'affordable' homes, an Orwellian attempt to rebrand rents only the comfortably off can pay as something else.

"Kauthar is just 13 years old, a year-eight student who is also a resolute, charismatic protester. When her family were booted out of their home, they were relocated to a house with no hot water, leaving them to spend weeks bathing with the help of a kettle. But she isn't broken: far from it. 'We just want them to listen to us,' Kauthar says. 'We want them to come and be in our shoes because if they were in our shoes they would hate it. They’re living out a posh life and they’ve got money, but our parents didn’t choose to be in this situation'."

2015-03-24

Broken Barnet: "Sweets Way: another round of evictions, another occupation - and a visit from Russell Brand"


Link to Mrs Angry

"Greetings, friends from the MoD. Maybe use a proxy server, in future - slightly more discreet."


"As you will know, Mrs Angry has a pet theory about the curious, seemingly unstoppable sequence of extraordinary events, here in Broken Barnet: one that depends on a psycho-geographical interpretation of the world, charged with the power of a legacy our Tory politicians would rather deny, and destroy.

"Our history, and our heritage - [it is] the story of the people who have lived here, and left something that survives and defies, somehow, the new order of things in this borough: the selling of our land into bondage to profit, a hostage to market forces, and the easy prey of private development.

"The small rebellions which occur, from time to time, seem to take place in strategic points of the map of our borough. West Hendon, caught between Watling Street and the Welsh Harp: the occupation of the People's Library, Margaret Thatcher House, on the road that cuts across from Barnet to Finchley: the downfall of Brian Coleman, the occupation of the Bohemia, on the Great North Road ... and now on the same route, the evictions, and the occupation, of Sweets Way in Whetstone."

The Guardian: "Cycling near misses: 'You need ceaseless vigilance if you want to stay alive'"


"From close passes to road rage, the near misses experienced every day by those cycling on Britain’s city streets usually go uncounted and unanalysed. The Near Miss project enlisted the help of 1,700 cyclists to change that"

Link to web site

"For the past few months I’ve been leading the Near Miss project, which aims to gain a better understanding of the frequency and impact of cycling near misses and other non-injury incidents. The heart of the research has involved nearly 1,700 riders across Britain keeping a record of all trips and any incidents experienced on their chosen diary day.

"Cycling injuries are more common than they should be in the UK, but a regular commuting cyclist might only experience a slight injury once every decade, with a much lower chance of serious injury. I’ve been cycle commuting most days for nearly 10 years and I’ve had a couple of very minor bumps (a grazed knee, bruised ribs). They are minor cautionary tales rather than heart-stopping moments.

"The apparent discrepancy between the fear of cycling and actual injury figures has led to a lot of head-scratching. Why, when the real risk is so small, are people so reluctant to cycle? Why can’t they be rational and take into account the often substantial health benefits?"

[Reposted] Stewart Murray, Barnet Head of Planning [2015: now at GLA]: Memo after Day One of Planning Committee, November 2009


Key points I picked up, briefly:
  • Useability/purpose of Brent Linear Park
  • Impact on neighbouring town centres
  • Nature conservation (during and after construction)
  • STG traffic evidence at UDP inquiry?
  • A5 traffic impact and key junctions/neighbouring roads
  • UDP inspector’s comments about railway link
  • Alternative site selection for waste handling facility
  • Alternative site selection for rail freight facility and need, given Wembley facility
  • Policy flaws in waste handling facility designation
  • Consultation process pre-application
  • Displacement of local business and relocation difficulties
  • Code for Sustainability not set high enough
  • High blocks/density
  • Combined heat and power pollution and 140m stack. How tried and tested is gasification?
  • Modal shift targets – are they realistic?
  • Affordable housing – not sufficient and too many flats
  • Demand for family accommodation.

[Reposted from March 2011] Mr Reasonable: "Council Meeting Farce and the Private Army"


Link to 'Mr Reasonable'

"That was where I met some of the Private Army, security guards from a company called Met Pro Rapid Response, in black army style fatigues and padded jackets. I found their presence most intimidating.


"... Next up comes a breathless Craig Cooper - no, the Mayor has said you can't come in, even though we are all respectable residents, and we have been advised to do so by the police. What a total and utter mess, and a clear sign that democracy is not working in Barnet, even though the Mayor insists it is."

Oct 2009: Appeasement to the Brent Cross Developers (2010: Multiplex retires from the battleground early, leaving Hammerson alone)


"History will judge us kindly," Churchill told Roosevelt and Stalin at the Tehran Conference in 1943.

When asked how he could be so sure, he responded: "because I shall write the history."








Barnet Eye: "New Brent Cross Station - nailing the lie"


"I'm Richard. Click me."

"... Sadly, there is plenty that this Barnet press release doesn't clarify. In fact it raises more questions than it answers.

"Firstly, the station is not in Brent Cross shopping centre. It is over 1/4 of a mile from it (as the crow flies). What provision will there be for shoppers to traverse the A406 and M1 entrance to get from the shops to the station?

"There is also talk that the existing station at Cricklewood may have to shut as part of the scheme. This would be a major blow to the existing shops and High Street businesses."





2015-03-23

Chris Naylor: Barking & Dagenham's loss is Barnet's gain


"Trailblazers 2015: the Public Finance Top 50"
"This year, CIPFA and Public Finance are celebrating individuals with outstanding records in innovation. Given the public sector’s ongoing need to do more with less, role models adept at new thinking are increasingly required.

"The Top 50 Trailblazers profiled in our supplement are all extraordinary pioneers, possessed of the determination, diligence and creativity needed to do things differently.

"Our list is not ranked from first to last and nobody in our Top 50 put themselves forward in the hope of winning an award. All were nominated by their peers for providing an example, which we hope others will be inspired to follow."


[Reposted] Out-of-Town Brent Cross Shopping Centre: From congestion hell to, er, 'living bridge' and congestion hell?

(Click to enlarge images)
1996
(multi-storey car parks along all four sides;
plan finally rejected at appeal in 2002)


2011
(rest of 'town centre' plan abandoned indefinitely;
now just 'shops and leisure')

2014: There's been another redesign.


Link to:


Daily Telegraph: "The HS3 effect: What high speed rail in the North could do for your city" (sharing some infrastructure with HS2, no doubt)


Link to web site

"Derelict houses, boarded-up shops, and jobseekers leaving in droves to find employment. This was Liverpool in the late 1980s and early 1990s after the city was hit by the decline in manufacturing and port logistics were modernised.

"In more recent times, some vibrancy has returned to the centre, but it has been overshadowed as an inward investment centre by Manchester.

"Nearly 150 miles away, Hull – also reliant on maritime trade, and playing second fiddle to the leading Yorkshire city of Leeds – suffered a similar fate, with its property sector and investment market failing to fully recover after the most recent recession.

"Not only have these cities, along with Newcastle and Sheffield, fallen behind Manchester and Leeds economically but they are now incomparable to London and Birmingham in terms of inward investment.

"The Government’s plans to overhaul the North’s creaking railway infrastructure and build High Speed 3, unveiled on Friday, are at the heart of its long-term programme to create a “northern powerhouse”.

"But will the Chancellor’s overall, regional vision of a new high-speed railway across the Pennines, connecting Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, Hull and Newcastle, address their specific needs?"

2015-03-19

[Reposted] London and Planning: the post-war experience


"Apart from things like atom bombs and so on, I'm quite satisfied"


"First transmitted in 1959, American reporter Ed Murrow returns to London where, during the war years, he had broadcast vivid descriptions of Britain during her 'finest and darkest hours, trying to report the suffering, the sacrifice and the steadiness of her people' to a listening world.

"This film features dramatic reports of the Battle of Britain and the Blitz, which gave rise to his celebrated closing phrase 'Good night and good luck'. Murrow returned to London to examine 'what Britain has done with her years of victory'. He reports from London’s East End, which still bore the scars of the wartime raids, the London docks where dockers claim that taxing them for working on Sundays is 'the greatest liberty that’s been took by a worker in his life', and asks London’s younger generation what kind of world they would like to live in.

"'This is London...' on the brink of the 1960s, from where Murrow argues that post-war hopes for better health, better education, better housing and full employment are falling short of expectations."




"London's strength, and London's weakness, lies in it being a pattern of accidents - no great planner seized on London..."
 [certainly not at Brent Cross Cricklewood]


"First transmitted in 1964, this film charts how London has grown in size and spread into the surrounding country. Written and narrated by architectural critic Reyner Banham, 'A City Crowned with Green' describes the unique character of London as a capital city.

"Banham looks at how it has, from the time of Elizabeth I, defied the efforts of the planners to curb its growth, but he is alarmed by the urban sprawl.

"Is to too late to get back closer to the heart, and make London a city crowned with green?"


2015-03-18

Department for Communities and Local Government: "Budget measures will deliver thousands of homes and jobs"


Link to web site

"Hundreds of thousands of homes and jobs will be delivered through a package of measures announced in today’s Budget.

"Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the funding contained in the Chancellor’s statement will maintain the momentum gathered since 2010, which has seen housebuilding reach its highest annual level in seven years, planning permissions reach record numbers and thousands of jobs created.

"Getting work started on new homes on large sites"
"The government will lead on getting work started on 10,000 homes at Northstowe near Cambridge, by directly commissioning builders to get building. It’s expected that of the homes expected to be started by 2020, three quarters – 600 homes – will have been directly commissioned.

"The government will also invest £95 million in the regeneration of Brent Cross to help deliver 7,500 homes, 4.9 million square feet of commercial space and up to 27,000 jobs. The development of the area, led by Barnet Council and the Greater London Authority, will be further supported by ringfencing 50% of the business rate growth in that area for investing in the project."

HM Government: Desperate desire for investment at Brent Cross - published on 12 February 2015. Desperate desire to forget it - killed off five days later.



https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/regeneration-project-brent-cross-cricklewood-gdv-5000m

"Details about the opportunity for international investors to provide investment for a large regeneration project [with corrupt outline planning consent] in the UK."





2015-03-17

Brent Cross railway station no longer a private sector provision: 'Capitalism on the way up, Socialism on the way down'


Link to Evening Standard

"George Osborne will press the accelerator in his Budget tomorrow on plans to tackle the capital’s housing shortage by building 400,000 homes.

The Evening Standard understands the key commitments will include:
  • The Mayor of London to be given new powers over 50 riverside wharves which are currently governed by Whitehall regulations, allowing City Hall to negotiate for new developments in consultation with Londoners.
  • A £97 million down-payment for a new station at Brent Cross which will help lead to the construction of 7,500 homes and support 27,000 jobs.
  • A £7 million injection of public money for the Croydon growth zone, aiming to create 4,000 homes and 10,000 jobs.
  • Funding worth £1 million for the new London Land Commission to help create a Domesday Book of surplus public sector land and brownfield sites that can be taken over for redevelopment."

2015-03-16

The Observer: "Britain’s housing crisis is a human disaster. Here are 10 ways to solve it"


"Rising house prices have been willed by public policy over decades. The fallout for families, communities and business has been severe"

Link to web site

" 'Every day I cry,' says an activist on a stall in Stratford, east London, that is shared by housing campaign Focus E15 and the Revolutionary Communist party. 'How many thousands of people are suffering?'

"Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, has said that problems with housing are the 'biggest risk' to the UK economy. The CBI agreed, saying: 'A perfect storm is brewing in the housing market. Now is the time for action.'

"If there is one thing that revolutionary communists and bankers can agree on, it is that there is a housing crisis in Britain. There are too few homes, usually costing too much, often in the wrong places, and often of poor quality. The crisis damages lives, breaks up families, blights employment prospects, reduces mobility and slows the economy.

"This, you would have thought, would be a gift for any political party. Housing is a matter of vital importance to voters. At a time when all parties struggle to offer alternatives to each other, this would be an opportunity to be distinctive and take the lead. Yet all the main parties' offerings on the subject are piecemeal, gestural and unambitious."

Mrs Angry: "Less than best, or: in a private space - the secret story of West Hendon" (Sharing Barnet's Supplementary Planning Framework with Brent Cross)


Link to Broken Barnet
(scroll down then)

"... [The missing] information was the viability report, the original basis for agreement between Barnet Council and Barratts in regard to the latest, bastardised version of what had originally been intended to be, many years previously under a Labour council, a genuine programme of regeneration, but has now become a massively profitable private development, using public land. Land which we know now to have been given away, not sold.

I say not sold: in fact that is unfair. Three parcels of land were bought for £1 each, for a site valued at the time as being worth more than £12 million.

This 'Poundland' deal secured for Barratts a unique opportunity for a private development on the edge of the beautiful Welsh Harp reservoir, a Site of Special Scientific Interest, fringed by open space, a sanctuary in the otherwise relentlessly urban landscape of this area of north west London.

A unique opportunity, of course, that has been achieved by default, or rather by stealth, smuggled through the gates of scrutiny like the Trojan horse, in the guise of a scheme meant to improve the local community, but which in fact will destroy that community, raze it to the ground, to be replaced by luxury housing, luring overseas investment or those fortunate few able to afford the non 'affordable' price of properties, and neatly facilitating the Tory agenda of gerrymandering the poorer, Labour voting areas of the borough out of existence.

How did we get to this point? We went into the process of the Inquiry knowing only that we did not know, well, what we did not know: the details of the agreement between Barnet and Barratts, and in particular the nature of the viability study. Requests for this information had always been rebutted, and now at the Inquiry, when the Inspector was asked to demand the release of the study, the consistent argument against doing so from Barnet and Barratts, a line stoutly maintained by their counsel, was that this information was not relevant.

At the same time, however, the developers and the local authority insisted the compulsory purchase order for the properties in West Hendon were absolutely essential to - ah, yes: the viability of the scheme."

2015-03-15

"Roads Were Not Built For Cars" - full text for the book



"Over the next 12 weeks every single word (all 170,000 of them) and every single chapter of Roads Were Not Built For Cars will be uploaded, for free. Click on the image above to open the preface and Chapter Two in click-flicky mode. To download the chapter as a PDF, open in full-screen mode and hit the share arrow – choose the download option. 

"If you like what you see please consider buying the book. It is available in a number of paid-for formats: print , iPad, Kindle and ePub. Note: the second edition print versions – softback and hardback – are due for publication in mid-April, with pre-ordering available from Island Press."


Reviewers have been positive in their praise for the book:

Edmund King, President, Automobile AssociationEdmund King,
President, Automobile Association
“This fascinating insight into the origin of roads will break down some road ownership issues, and help promote harmony for all road users whether on four wheels or two.”
 

Professor David Cox OBE, Chair of Council, CTCProfessor David Cox OBE,
Chair of Council, CTC
“Roads Were Not Built For Cars is a major and original piece of work, and a significant contribution to social history. It is also an underpinning for current debates about the urban realm.”


Sam Jordison, The GuardianSam Jordison,
The Guardian 
"... closely argued, meticulously researched … [this] book is also a treasure trove of curious trivia and arcane detail. [The] iPad edition puts [publishing] professionals to shame, featuring lovely use of video, a wealth of images, clever 3D models, and even a 19th-century ditty about speeding cyclists.


Richard Peploe, Road.ccRichard Peploe,
Road.cc
“… a reassuring amount of research has gone into the book … [is is] an essential reference … ... 9/10.


Brian Palmer, thewashingmachinepost.netBrian Palmer,
thewashingmachinepost.net "...when all's said and done, I don't really care why you buy a copy of this book, whether it's on paper or in pixels, but buy it you must ... [it is] a major triumph ... for each and every cyclist the world over."
 

Rosie Bell, hurryupharry.orgRosie Bell,
hurryupharry.org
"Roads Were Not Built For Cars is a polemic shot through with a sense of injustice for the written out and colonised – the literally marginalised literally pushed in the gutter when they had literally paved the way for the motorist – [yet] it could be enjoyed by Jeremy Clarkson."


Laura Laker, Cycling WeeklyLaura Laker,
Cycling Weekly
“Well-written and thoroughly researched with fascinating insights from primary sources ... 10/10.


Hans Hans "No Way" Rey,
via Twitter
“Interesting read … City councils should take note.


Nick Clayton, cycle historian, Veteran-Cycle Club newsletterNick Clayton,
cycle historian, Veteran-Cycle Club newsletter
"This volume is the cycle history dissertation for our age … [with] fascinating snippets not noted elsewhere … Whenever a new character or event [is introduced] it is seamlessly related to other players in the story and what may start as a diversion turns out to add flavour, knowledge and enlightenment ... Readers interested in the history of the motorcar will be similarly hooked ... None of the old cycling myths are regurgitated; the prose and proof-reading are beyond reproach and Nicola King’s indexing is immaculate … I cannot recommend this book more highly."
 

David Henshaw, A to B MagazineDavid Henshaw,
A to B Magazine
“Roads Were Not Built For Cars is something of a bicycling Ben Bur ... [and also an] entertaining exploration of the early days of motoring ...” David Henshaw. A to B Magazine, December 2014.


Leslie Reissner, Pezcyclingnews.comLeslie Reissner,
Pezcyclingnews.com
" ... exceptionally well-researched … a fascinating story …[an] important book … describing the development of much of the world we see outside our doors … Roads Were Not Built for Cars ... can be said to break new ground in cycling history, [and] shows us not only the highway from the past but also how we might want to consider how we view the future.


Dr. Robert Davis, Road Danger Reduction ForumDr. Robert Davis,
Road Danger Reduction Forum
"This book is a lot more than a dry history of road building … it fascinates with a steady stream of revelatory contemporary views on who those roads were for. As such it is … a contribution to the debates we should be having now on transport policy.


Richard Peploe, Velo VisionRichard Peploe,
Velo Vision
"I don’t believe that there has ever been a more thorough explanation of firstly why roads are now seen as being purely for transport use; secondly why the needs of motor transport have priority over any other consideration; and thirdly the role that bicycles have played ... This book ... gives hope that things can change ... Looking to the future, the book questions whether motorways ... could eventually suffer the same fall from grace as railways if they become less relevant: it might seem inconceivable now, but this book reminds us that transport priorities can and do change, along with the building works required to support them."

2015-03-14

Planning Resource: London Borough of Ealing: "Councils 'being bamboozled' by viability reports"


"Some councils are being 'bamboozled' by viability issues and are failing to get a good deal from developers, the head of regeneration at a London borough has said"


"Speaking at the MIPIM property fair in Cannes, Pat Hayes, executive director of regeneration and housing at the London Borough of Ealing, said some councils were being 'bamboozled' by viability reports:
"In the area around viability studies on affordable housing, some local authorities are still incredibly naïve and are still driven occasionally by the nose."

I think we’ve got to be pushing back and challenging some of the assumptions that are used around current viability discussions for example and effectively saying, ‘Look, we know what you paid for the land, we know what you’ll make from the land, we don’t really care about existing use value, what we care about is the delivery of a good scheme, and we will set the affordable housing target accordingly and we will set requirements for whether it's infrastructure, whether it's public realm, accordingly'.

I think often we get bamboozled by formulas and things and we’ve got to be much more dynamic in how we approach that."
"Hayes also said that councils should also be 'more sophisticated' in pre-planning discussions 'in terms of really giving a steer to developers in terms of what we want and what we're looking for'. He continued:
"Some authorities are still hands off and say ‘bring me another one, I don’t like that one’. We should be saying this is what we want, this is what we want to do and we’ll help you deliver it and I that’s the key to it."
"Elsewhere, Hayes said that London boroughs should act more like cities and have confidence in themselves to attract inward investment:
"The big thing for Ealing certainly and I think for London as a whole is that we are big places in our own right. Ealing, if it was outside London, would be one of the major cities in the country. We’ve got to think like a major city and act like a major city.

We've got to get out of the mindset that many of us have which is that we’re just here to regulate the planning process. We’re not just here to regulate the planning process, we’re here to change the place and to create better places and certainly the progressive boroughs like ourselves we see ourselves as being agents to bring inward investment."

opendemocracy.net: "Sweets Way evictions: building community in resistance"


"As a housing estate is evicted in Barnet, a community is brought together in resistance"

Link to web site

"Liam ran rapidly through the story of the estate: the MoD sold it to a company called Annington in 1996, he told me. Now, everyone's being evicted. He'd found out through Facebook, and rushed there with some friends. When they got there, the people on the estate – also mobilised through Facebook - had come out of their houses and were talking to each other, sometimes for the first time. There were tears and anger at the way they were being treated.

"As they came together, though, as they discussed their situations with their neighbours and met those who had resisted occupations elsewhere in London, they realised they could do something. They marched round the corner to Barnet Homes, where security guards braced themselves against the revolving doors. It had been half term, Liam told me, and so much of the protest was made up of children. Eventually, a delegation of them got to meet with the agency.

...

"... Wandering around, people said the same things. The houses were perfectly good – double glazed, good insulation, no damp, a garden each and plenty of green space. The locals liked living here. Now, people kept saying, the largely empty estate is scary at night."



Link to Twitter

Brent Cross Shopping Centre: Opening Hours, and Spring Beauty Fix Offers



"Brent Cross Spring Beauty Fix is coming to the mall on Friday 27 and Saturday 28 March 2015.

"This is your chance to get up to speed with the latest spring beauty trends!

"Expect beauty demos, giveaways, discounts and competitions all weekend. [We're expecting, we're expecting!]

"Stay tuned... more details and a list of discounts will be revealed soon. Offer ends on 28th March 2015"

[We lied about the Opening Hours.]

2015-03-11

motoring.co.uk: "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em"


Vroom to the web site

"Take a long hard look at the photograph above. That's your future. Can’t see yourself as one of those on a bicycle? In that case you’ll be the one stuck behind them in your car.

"Cities are back in fashion, and pretty much all of the experts agree that most people on this finite planet of ours will be living cheek by city jowl with many others within a generation. The urban motorway, like Watney's Red Barrel, is a relic of the 1970s. There will be no new roads bulldozed through any British city. We've got to sweat the existing assets and that means squeezing a growing number of people down the same highways.

"No city on earth believes the answer to future mobility is more cars. Whether you like it or not, the future will see ever greater restrictions on the use of privately owned motor cars in central business districts."

2015-03-10

[Reposted] Building: "Brent Cross Cricklewood first phase plans submitted" (as Hammerson regrets ever being involved in the quagmire)



"Developers behind £4.5bn plans to redevelop north-west London’s Brent Cross Shopping Centre and regenerate the wider Cricklewood area have submitted a detailed planning application for a first phase of work.

Hammerson and Standard Life Investments’s plans for the first phase include shopping-centre related infrastructure, new sports pitches, tennis courts, a cafe, pavilion and changing rooms for Clitterhouse Playing Fields, and 47 replacement homes [built on green spaces] for residents being moved from the [210-home demolished] Whitfield Estate as part of the regeneration scheme.

The developers have agreed a commercial deal with Barnet Council for the shopping centre’s transformation, but are in the process of exiting its ownership of the wider regeneration scheme. [There are other, less polite ways of putting that.]

The authority expects to announce a development partner for this 350-acre brownfield portion of the scheme later this year.

The whole project is earmarked for 7,500 new homes, three new schools, a new cinema, a leisure centre, a health centre, a new train station on the Thameslink line, and a new bus station, and the transformation of the shopping centre itself.

The first phase also covers the transformation of Claremont Open Space into a new community park, and the creation of a new Brent Riverside Park south of Brent Cross Shopping Centre.

Development director Mike McGuinness said the project’s early works would see 'significant investment' into green spaces, while investment in transport infrastructure would 'hugely improve' local roads and junctions. He said:
"After so many years in the planning, we are looking forward to making good our promises about community benefit and if consent is granted [what do you mean, "if"?], we intend to start work in the summer of 2016."
The [1996] Brent Cross Cricklewood project originally received planning permission in 2010 and an updated planning permission was approved in July 2014.

Hammerson said it expected Barnet Council to make an enabling compulsory purchase order in the coming weeks to secure the land, interests and rights required for the first phase of regeneration.

It said the full process was likely to take 15-18 months and that a start on site was anticipated in 2017 for completion in 2020/21."

Nick Gavron, London Assembly Member: "Assembly calls on Mayor to stop ignoring tall buildings issue"



"The London Assembly Planning Committee yesterday wrote to the Mayor calling on him to tackle the proliferation of tall buildings dramatically altering London and its skyline.

"I've written before on this blog about the tall buildings issue, which has been the subject of heated debate since the NLA exhibition 'London’s Growing Up!' last spring found that there are 236 more in the development pipeline. Despite the growing chorus of voices - from campaigners, from the London Assembly, and from citizens - calling on the Mayor to address the issue, he has steadfastly refused to even admit that there is a problem.

"The letter from the Committee, which I chair, lays out the evidence from experts in the fields of engineering, architecture, and heritage about the impacts of this unmanaged phenomenon. We then call on the Mayor to:
  • Establish a ‘skyline commission’ to advise on the design impact of tall buildings
  • Adopt more detailed and rigorous master planning in relation to tall buildings, especially within Opportunity Areas
  • Draw up a London Plan policy that formalises the ‘clusters’ policy for tall buildings
  • Undertake a review of existing protected views, with the intention of adding new viewing corridors
  • Support the development of a fully interactive 3D computer model of London’s emerging skyline
  • Adopt a requirement for all developers with proposals for tall buildings to consider other building configurations.
"The evidence base presented to the Mayor will make it difficult for him to ignore. Our solutions are also proportional and realistic - recognising the contribution that tall buildings can make to the city, whilst being designed to prevent the worst excesses that do nothing more than act as safety deposit boxes for rich, often international, investors."




2015-03-09

Spend, Spend, Spend at the future super-sized Brent Cross Shopping Centre! (BBC: "Promises, Promises: A History of Debt")



"Anthropologist David Graeber explores the ways debt has shaped society over 5000 years. In this episode, he examines the moral power that debt holds over us.

"David argues that whenever we think about debt we end up in a deep moral confusion. We resent the 'deadbeats' who fail to pay us back and yet many of us believe that people who get us into debt - money lenders - are immoral if not downright evil.

"Gangsters like Don Corleone frame what they do in terms of debt. They do so in the knowledge that debt is a powerful tool for taking even pure extortion and making it seem like it's the debtor who is in the wrong. We can't help but believe Don Corleone when he tells us we owe him one.

"It's not just gangsters who utilise the moral power of debt. Over the course of history commanders of foreign armies, wealthy landlords, corrupt officials, and local thugs have been able to tell their victims that those victims owe them something. If nothing else, they 'owe them their lives' (a telling phrase) because they haven't killed them.

"For most of human history, most human beings have been told that they are debtors. In this series, David examines the human consequences which have profound implications for the politics of the present day."

[Reposted from Dec 2014] Hammerson's Brent Cross shopping centre under Barnet's corrupt planning consent: Relying on wealthy new customers or out-of-control consumer debt?




Link to The Observer

"According to the OBR’s chilling analysis, 'subdued earnings' caused a shortfall in tax revenue from income tax and national insurance contributions of £8bn this year. That is predicted to rise to £15.2bn by 2018-19. By the end of the next parliament, the country will have experienced 18 years of lost wage growth, while the top 5% will have become ever richer.

As economist Özlem Onaran writes: “The share of income in the national income pie will contract in favour of the owners of capital.” And that brings with it the related problem of spiralling debt. In this country, the ratio of household debt to incomes is predicted to reach a staggering 184% by 2020. In 2010, at 170% it was high. Many of us don’t earn enough, so we continue to borrow – a tightrope for the clumsy-footed, unbalanced as soon as interest rates rise.

In November, the Bank of England appointed Michael Kumhof, formerly of the IMF, as a special adviser. In 2010, he co-authored an authoritative paper, 'Inequality, Leverage and Crisis' that also made reference to the 1930s. The paper argues that two periods – 1920-1929 (followed by the Great Depression of the 30s) and 1983-2008 (followed by the recession) both exhibited a large increase in the income share of the rich, a large increase in leverage (borrowing) for the remainder, and an eventual financial crisis. Kumhof’s favoured more effective solution to avoid this is the “restoration of the lower income group’s bargaining power”.



Link to web site

Sunday Telegraph:
"Ten more years of borrowing if productivity lags"
"The Government will take a decade longer to balance the books if Britain's low productivity recovery continues to drag down the economy, experts have warned.

"George Osborne admitted last week that weak wage growth and a rise in low paid work meant the Government would borrow £91bn this fiscal year – £5bn more than the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast in March. It is still predicted to post a surplus in 2019.

"A key part of the OBR's forecast centres around stronger productivity growth, which is expected to gradually rise to 2pc by the end of its forecast in 2020.

"However, the OBR calculated that if productivity grew at the rate as it has since 2008 – just 0.5pc a year – it would leave 'living standards materially lower', with wages still 7pc down on their pre-crisis peak after [another] five years."


Scientific American: "How to Win Friends and Bamboozle People about Climate Change"


Link to web site

"What is the difference between a magician and a man who obscures the truth about global warming for the fossil-fuel industry? Magicians are "moral liars," according to the illuminating new documentary Merchants of Doubt, by director Robert Kenner. That's because their magic acts use expertise in the art of deception and misdirection to entertain. Shills for the fossil fuel-industry, such as Steve Milloy, Marc Morano and others examined and accused in this film, use their expertise to fool people about matters of life and death.

"The new documentary springs from the 2010 eponymous book by historians Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway. The film (and the book before it) lays out how the fossil-fuel industry funds talking heads to sow confusion about climate change in a deliberate imitation of the successful doubt-sowing tactics of the tobacco industry. That industry famously employed experts in public relations, starting with venerable PR firm Hill+Knowlton, to cast doubt on the idea that smoking causes lung cancer or that nicotine was addictive, tactics that delayed regulation of the tobacco industry for decades.

...

"... Still, the ideological struggle over climate change has now raged for nearly 30 years. It took 50 years but eventually the tobacco companies were laid low and had to pay more than $200 billion in fines. Perhaps in another 20 years or so climate change will be so obvious that the ExxonMobils and Peabody Coals of the world will have to pay back some of their profits to compensate the victims of global warming.

"The problem is that in the meantime people will die too soon, rising oceans will flood coastal cities and weird weather will make farming harder, all serving as a 'threat multiplier'—as the U.S. military puts it. By revealing the little men behind the curtain of climate change denial maybe Merchants of Doubt will help cut short this fight, because the world may not have that much time to waste."



The Guardian:



2015-03-06

Sun 8 March, 2pm: Barnet Press: "Conference tackles problem of car congestion"


http://www.barnet-today.co.uk/news.cfm?id=26919&headline=Conference%20tackles%20problem%20of%20car%20congestion
Vroom to the web site

"The tricky issue of car congestion on Barnet's roads will be discussed at a conference on Sunday.

"The event at Friern Barnet Library has been organised by campaigner AM Poppy, who is standing in the General Election in Chipping Barnet for the Greens, although she said she arranged the event free from any party or organisational affiliation."

Mrs Angry: "To redeem the work of fools, or: a diversion from the truth - an Extraordinary Meeting in Broken Barnet"


http://wwwbrokenbarnet.blogspot.co.uk/
Link to Broken Barnet

"Councillor Seal was very lucky to be reselected last year, due to his record of not showing up for council meetings, but, as told Mrs Angry at the election count, he had promised to reform, and attend every meeting, and be a very good boy. Nice boy, he undoubtedly is, but his attendance record this time round has been terrible: a 40% absence rate. This is simply not good enough, for someone paid £10,000 of taxpayers' hard earned dosh simply to turn up to a few meetings - and potentially fatal for his own party's administration.

"Foolishly he also insists on drawing attention to his own absences by tweeting non stop about his travels, under the impression anyone is interested in which airport lounge he is sitting, at any given moment. This weekend it was El Prat. No, obviously Mrs Angry could not resist. But, oh dear: El Prat remained in Spain, rather than return for the crucial meeting, which meant the outcome would hang on the casting vote of the Mayor - unless any of the Tories recovered the use of their consciences, and voted against the group whip.

...

"... Time for deputy leader Dan Thomas to have his say. As usual he had sat bolt upright throughout the meeting, watching the proceedings with his cool regard, and smiling. Now with his usual fully automated delivery of true blue Tory polemics, completely detached from anything approaching the reality of life for most residents of this borough, he told us about the wonderful new massive Brent Cross development agreement just made with Argent, with whom, he said, and he may well have been blushing, we have 'a new relationship'.

"Of course if any of our Tory councillors had ever borrowed a library book, thought Mrs Angry, and sneaked out that copy of the Kama Sutra, they might better understand what sort of positions,and indeed contortions, will be required of us, in the expression of this new relationship, as we have endured with Barratts, in West Hendon. The Ass, or the Elephant - in or out of the room? (Warning, the latter position not for plus size men, apparently. Not looking at anyone in particular, Eric).

"Will we, I wonder, be sealing this new partnership with gifts, as in the handing over to Barratts of three areas of land worth £12 million, exchanged for the token payment of £3.00? (See next post for more on this).

"Thomas waffled on, lost in a wonderland of new development, a brave new world for people like him. People are being evicted from their homes, yelled Mrs Angry, in an attempt to penetrate his complacency: a waste of time, of course."