PLANNING IN LONDON issue 107 Oct-Dec 2018

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REGULARS: BRIEFING page 20 ¡PILLO! page 22 CLIPBOARD page 23 30 LONDON PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT FORUM page 30 ANDY ROGERS page 36 Issue 107 October-December 2018


Julia Park and Jeremy Porteus introduce their book ‘Age-Friendly Housing: Future design for older people’ also reviewed by Brian Waters, page 70; Housing for older people needs a strategy – Anne-Marie Nicholson page 64; A progressive scheme for elderly living – Will Wimshurst PLUS Opinion columns by Mariead Carroll, Riëtte Oosthuizen, Andrew Rogers, Paul Smith, Simon Bath, Julia Park, Ben Taylor, Louise Brooke-Smith and Paul Finch plus SIR TERRY FARRELL City making: many hands, over time pages 40-49 THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO DEVELOPMENT IN THE CAPITAL

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IDEAS & ACTIONS TO CHANGE YOUR WORLD In a complex, changing world where global problems are felt locally, the systems used to plan, design, and build urban neighbourhoods are failing. The key to 昀xing broken patterns of urban development do not lie in grand plans or giant projects – rather, in the collective wisdom and energy of people harnessing the power of many small ideas and actions to make a big difference. This is ‘Massive Small’ change. Making Massive Small Change showcases the deeply complex, adaptive systems our cities are, and offers an alternative to our current highly mechanistic model of urban development. It outlines and illustrates the ideas, tools, and tactics being used to help engaged citizens, civic leaders, and urban professionals to work together to build viable urban societies that we can all thrive in.

‘The principles and approaches in Making Massive Small Change reflect how we can empower people to once again participate in shaping our communities whilst creating more successful places.’ Ben Derbyshire, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects

Reader offer: Making Massive Small Change is available now, priced £25. To order a copy for the special price of £20 inc p&p, call Grantham Book Services on 01206 255777, and quote MMSCPL. Offer ends 31st December

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page 5 LEADERS The failures of success; The Elizabeth Line will be worth waiting for and should not delay Crossrail 2 7 PICTURE FEATURE Crossrail 1 is on its way


10 OPINIONS 10 Estate regeneration and affordability: Mariead Carroll 11 Estate regeneration ballots: Riëtte Oosthuizen 12 Forget about chief architects - where are all the chief planners?: Andrew Rogers 13 Not radical reform – just more tinkering: Paul Smith 14 Who’s to blame for the broken housing chain?: Simon Bath 15 A new low in office-to-residential conversions: Julia Park 17 Making London a National Park City: Ben Taylor 18 How can we steer placemaking in a driverless future?: Louise Brooke-Smith 19 Tax the lucky landlords who get windfall benefits from public investment: Paul Finch 20 BRIEFING The London Brexit debate: Saul Collyns; Banksy saved in Shoreditch; Kingston first to ballot tenants; 22 LETTERS From Philip Waddy, partner at West Waddy ADP and chairman, Royal Institute of British Architects planning group

KIOSK CHAOS – Andrew Rogers page 36

22 ¡PILLO! Carbuncular nomination upsets its architect; Delivery test will undermine design quality says Councillor; Paragraph 55 is dead – long live paragraph 81, part E; Validation delays 23 CLIPBOARD NHBC reports uplift in new home growth for London; The Design Museum to exhibit Adjaye; Changes are coming to planning in the City of Westminster; Labour promises “root and branch rethink” of the planning system; CaMKoX authorities to fund infrastructure with ‘land value capture’ mechanism 26 PLANNING PERFORMANCE Fewer permissions being granted especially for commercial development 30 LONDON PLANNING & DEVELOPMENT FORUM Garden towns, Land Value Capture & London Plan and the NPPF 36 ANDY ROGERS Kiosk chaos


40 SIR TERRY FARRELL City making: many hands, over time

Continues next page >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018



50 Releasing space for affordable employment David Edwards


52 Health in planning assessments Michael Chang, Liz Green and Jenny Dunwoody 57 A more radical design criterion for Green Belt release Guy Middleton 60 A progressive scheme for elderly living Will Wimshurst 64 Housing for older people needs a strategy Anne-Marie Nicholson


67 A new London destination for the arts Councillor Miranda Williams 70 BOOKS New insights into growing older Julia Park and Jeremy Porteus introduce their: Age-Friendly Housing: Future design for older people also reviewed by Brian Waters; 73 Making Massive Small Change: introduced by the author Kelvin Campbell and reviewed by Paul finch 75 PLANNING AND ENVIRONMENT REFERENCE GUIDE Contacts in all London boroughs and more 78 SUBSCRIPTION FORM 81 ADVICE – Consultants and services

ISSN 1366-9672 (PRINT) ISSN 2053-4124 (DIGITAL) Issue 107 October-December 2018

Publishing Editors: Brian Waters, Paul Finch and Lee Mallett, Editorial, subscriptions and advertising: Tel: 020 8948 2387/ 07957871477 Email: Contents ©Land Research Unit Ltd or as stated Available only on subscription: £99 pa


Provides a licence for five copies by email See subscription form or buy online at Planning in London is published quarterly in association with The London Planning & Development Forum by Land Research Unit Ltd Studio Petersham, Gorshott, 181 Petersham Road TW10 7AW Contributors write in a personal capacity. Their

views are not necessarily those of The London Development & Planning Forum or of their organisations. Correspondence and contributions are invited for consideration. The editors reserve the right to edit material and letters supplied.  Made on a Mac The London Planning and Development Forum (LPDF) The LPDF was formed in 1980 following an all-party inquiry into the development control system. It selects topics to debate at its quarterly meetings and these views are reported to constituent bodies. It is a sounding board for the development of planning policy in the capital, used by both the public and private sector. Agendas and minutes are at To attend please advise hon. secretary Drummond Robson: The LPDF is administered by: Honorary Secretary: Drummond Robson MRTPI,


Planning in London

41 Fitzjohn Avenue, Barnet, Herts EN5 2HN Tel: 0208 449 3113 Fax: 0208 440 2015: Chairman: Brian Waters MA DipArch (Cantab) DipTP RIBA MRTPI ACArch P.ACA FRSA Principal: The Boisot Waters Cohen Partnership Member bodies Association of Consultant Architects Association of London Borough Planning Officers/Planning Officers’ Society London Councils British Property Federation Design Council CABE City of London Law Society Confederation for British Industry

DCLG Design for London/Urban Design London Historic England Environment Agency Greater London Authority Home Builders Federation Landscape Architecture SE London Chambers of Commerce & Industry London Forum of Amenity Societies London Housing Federation National Planning Forum ICE, RIBA, RICS, RTPI, UDAL, TCPA Transport for London London University (The Bartlett, UCL) University of Westminster Affiliated members: Planning Aid for London London Metropolitan University



The failures of success The most important lesson is that you cannot rely on one ideology to find solutions or create equality.

Planning in London has been published and edited by Brian Waters, Lee Mallett and Paul Finch since 1992

If you had to name one failure of Thatcherite policy that has dominated the UK’s political consensus of the last 39 years since 1979, it would be the failure to create enough housing to meet everyone’s needs. In particular the combination of the impact of Right to Buy policies, fiscal rules around how receipts could not be reinvested by Councils, despite being forced sellers, and huge discounts offered to tenants – surely the biggest ever transference of wealth – and the imposition of a major hypothecated tax on developments and developers (S106), has ensured we do not have enough housing of the right types in the right places. So the Dancing Queen’s announcement of the removal of the cap on Council’s Housing Revenue Accounts and the ability to borrow, prudentially, to invest more in housing, is a long overdue removal of a central plank of Thatcherism – even if you think a more appropriate Abba tune for Theresa to be ‘dancing’ to should be ‘Waterloo’. There already have been renewed calls to get rid of Right to Buy. Not so sure about that. It cleverly transfered a huge maintenance liability onto the new owners, but get rid of large discounts, maybe. And allow Councils to keep, spend or reinvest receipts? Yes. Get rid of S106 planning policies? Probably not, because on larger schemes we want a proper social mix. Not us and them. But raise the threshold where it applies? Absolutely. Smaller schemes and builders have both become rare and less viable since S106 tax was applied to schemes of nine units and above. It should be 30 or 40 units and above. S106 tax led not only to lack of viability but also disproportionately expensive negotiations and pre-planning consultancy– further eroding viability. And hands up who thought CiL was going to replace S106 payments? But no. Now developers have to pay both. Doh! If Councils can invest, however, they will be able to gear up their own ‘capital’ with private finance. This is how regeneration is supposed to work. The state invests high-risk seed money and the market piggy backs. Horse before cart, not the other way round. There remains the fear Councils will borrow too much, and reignite inflation – not to mention gerrymander the local vote by supplying people with cheap housing. But that’s another issue. Frankly we just need the housing. We cannot see the Treasury dragon letting too much gold out into the market. The fundamental lesson of Monetarism seems to have been learnt - keep the bigger dragon of inflation under lock and key. But the most important lesson from the last 39 years is that you cannot rely on one ideology to find solutions or create equality. That was Thatcherism’s success - and its failure. And if more money is going to be invested in socially mixed housing-led developments, there is one more big lesson. You need flexible strategic urban visions, not legalistic ‘local plans’. Visioning needs to happen quickly, carefully. You can turn it into policy later. We need to think harder about how to do this successfully, and invest in it. Or we’ll end up with a series of opportunistic, cherry picking developments that don’t make great places. >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018




Decisions delayed are almost inevitably made worse not better


Planning in London

The Elizabeth Line will be worth waiting for and should not delay Crossrail 2 It is disappointing that the line formerly known as Crossrail 1 will not now complete this year, but by the end of 2019. Understandably, Mayor Khan is reluctant to announce any specific time, no doubt partly because announcement of the delayed completion was shrouded in secrecy, as is often the British way when faced with a problem. First, pretend it isn’t happening; second, make a quick announcement and sweep the background under the carpet; and third, make sure it is difficult to blame anyone by shuffling personnel. In the case of Crossrail (a private company, let us remember, albeit answerable to Transport for London), the two key individuals at the top of the organization departed for exciting new jobs, rather than seeing through what they started. Not very edifying. However, there is no point in dwelling for too long on the precise circumstances of why a project suddenly becomes a year late. You might say it is not a year late, but at least a decade. Why? Because in typical British fashion, we procrastinated endlessly about whether the project should proceed, just as we had previously procrastinated about the Jubilee Line. What is it about the greatest city in the world that strategic decisions about its future seem to be taken by donkeys? It took so long for confirmation of the Crossrail project that every station except one saw a change of architect. There was huge uncertainty about routes, station details and what property would be blighted, which lasted far longer than was necessary. And of course costs significantly increased, the latest hike a £1 billion overspend as a result of the delayed final phase. At least the stations (with the exception of Bond Street) are completing on time. The really worry thing about this story, from a broad London perspective, is the potential impact it will have on politicians thinking about Crossrail 2. You can hear the dreary litany of speeches coming down the yet-to-be-built track: ‘Value for money . . . cost uncertainty at a time of restraint . . . too much investment in London . . . we should wait until HS2 is properly resolved’ and so on. The real lesson of Crossrail 1 is that decisions delayed are almost inevitably made worse not better; the outcomes are more expense not less; the opportunities lost are difficult to recover. Remember the estuary airport at Maplin Sands, which had an extant planning permission but fell victim to mind-numbing political timidity? We are still waiting for something that should have completed before the end of the 20th century. The message for TfL: keep on pushing. n


Crossrail 1 is on its way Crossrail 1 AKA the Elizabeth line, despite the recent announcement of its delayed opening, is set to transform London.Whilst any immediate effect will be to relieve congestion on the underground, the Central line in particular, it will open up swathes of outer London to East and West in a way which will allow access to jobs in the centre to many people cannot afford to live there. As argued on the previous page, Crossrail 2 has the prospect of continuing this benign effect. They will do much to overcome the unaffordability of housing in London. RIGHT: The Class 345 train passing through the new Elizabeth Line station at Custom House BELOW: Elizabeth line test train at Paddington station PHOTOS supplied by Crossrail Ltd


Issue 107 October-December 2018




Planning in London

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Whitechapel Station Overhead power equipment and passenger walkway installed in tunnel North Woolwich portal head house Bond Street station - tiling and platform screen doors complete

Issue 107 October-December 2018



Estate regeneration and affordability London needs to build 65,000 homes a year and nearly half of these need to be genuinely affordable says Mariead Carroll According to Crisis, councils across the country have spent £3.5 billion on temporary accommodation in the past five years. Almost two thirds of the £3.5 billion has been spent in the capital, with 10 London boroughs accounting for two thirds of the total increase in spending over the past four years. Just imagine how many lives could have been transformed if this money could have been used to build safe, secure, affordable, homes instead. Across the capital, London had 243,668 people on social housing waiting lists in 2017. Seven London boroughs – Ealing, Greenwich, Hackney, Islington, Lambeth, Newham and Tower Hamlets – made up nearly half of London’s social housing waiting lists. The need to build more affordable housing is clear and was central in the last Mayoral election campaign, and is again a key issue for the three shortlisted Conservative candidates. However we have a finite amount of land. With both regional and national government keen to protect the green belt and preserve land for industrial use we need to bold in our approach to how we use the land that we have. Research has shown there is considerable theoretical potential to increase housing supply through the The Global Hub

Estate Regeneration More and better homes for London

Barking Riverside

In partnership with:


Planning in London

regeneration of housing estates. One estimate suggests there are approximately 8,500 hectares of land covered by local authority and ex-local authority housing estates in London of which 1,750 hectares might be ‘capable of regeneration’. This could lead up to an additional 54,000 to 360,000 homes depending on the density of development. Another estimate states that densification of large housing estates could provide an additional 80,000 to 160,000 homes in London (4,000 to 8,000 new homes a year). Of course, these broad-brush estimates have not looked at the particular circumstances of the individual estates; and it would be neither practicable nor desirable for all of London’s housing estates to be treated in the same way. It is undeniable that done well, estate regeneration can deliver much needed homes. However it should be ultimately down to local authorities and housing associations working in partnership with residents and the local community to assess this. While it is true that estate regeneration can lead to new, much needed homes, it can also transform existing areas and homes in need of investment. Many of our large housing estates are no longer fit for purpose. They were built at a different time, to different standards and can be costly to maintain. Effective resident engagement is essential to delivering estate regeneration and our report 'Estate Regeneration: More and better homes for London’, published in 2017, sets out a number of case studies, from local authorities, housing associations, and private developers highlighting positive resident and community engagement practice. Regenerating large estates can take a long time, sometimes anywhere between 10 to 20 years. A ballot can only gauge a moment in time and does not reflect that over the period of regeneration, the people living on the estate will change, local priorities will change, and the economic environment can change dramatically. All these changes could significantly impact on the viability of a scheme. Consequently, proposals made to residents need to be flexible enough to withstand a range of external factors so that should changes be required, those who are leading the development are able to respond to these. With the introduction of ballots we see a one size fits all approach to consultation that does not take

Mariead Carroll is programme director, housing at London First

into consideration the requirements of individual estate residents and communities. Any decision relating to the use of ballots should rest with local authorities who are best placed to understand the specific concerns and interests of their local communities. Local authorities should then be able to balance the use of ballots and other methods of engaging with existing residents and the wider local community with broader considerations such as: the economic and social benefits that estate regeneration may bring, for example jobs and training opportunities; benefits of an increase in the supply of homes, including affordable housing; and improvements to the health and wellbeing of residents living on the estate and in the wider community. Estate regeneration is one way of creating new genuinely affordable homes. However, we have concerns that the Mayor’s approach to ballots will mean that some estates which desperately need to be regenerated and which could provide more new genuinely affordable housing will no longer happen. n


Estate regeneration ballots Embracing a very necessary change (but make it timely) says Riëtte Oosthuizen A resident ballot is now a requirement for every estate regeneration project that benefits from GLA funding. As from the 18th of July 2018, a positive residents’ vote have become a prerequisite to development proposals progressing through to planning applications. In my view, this change is welcome, but the timing of the vote is critical. The requirement for a resident ballot kicks in where social housing is to be demolished and replaced by 150 or more homes (of any tenure), on an existing social housing estate. While ballots associated with estate regeneration are not an unknown thing – and in fact have been used in recent years on schemes we have been involved in - they are now unnegotiable if projects are eligible for GLA funding (which would include Recycled Capital Grant funding). In our day to day work, we are already seeing the impact. Clients are being cautious and fees are split into a pre and post ballot phase; the pre-ballot work perceived as high risk. This caution is not unfounded: it is all too common for the voices of a few disgruntled and very vocal resident to sway views. There is substantial risk if the residents vote becomes the deciding factor on whether any new homes should be provided. For local authorities and Registered Providers who are keen to build social homes, estates are key assets for considering infill development or redevelopment. Estate regeneration has had much bad press in the last 5 to 10 years. Projects have resulted in the

loss of affordable housing and the breakdown of community ties as people have been displaced. A radical step change is necessary, mostly to restore resident trust in the estate regeneration process. Residents have been given a lot of power to impact on the development process. To reach a ‘yes’ vote, thorough pre-ballot consultation would be essential. This is definitely the death knell for tick box consultation exercises. As an organisation we fully support a process that puts residents’ views central to estate regeneration. In 2016, HTA Design published ‘Altered Estates’ in conjunction with Levitt Bernstein, Pollard Thomas

Timing is critical. There is risk in the expectation that a resident ballot should take place before a Joint Venture partner is appointed Edwards and PRP, which set out many years of combined experience of how to achieve successful estate regeneration; resident involvement and the carefully weighing up of all options being key. We first became aware of the likely importance of the Mayor’s Good Practice Guidance to Estate Regeneration ‘Better Homes’ more than a year ago when a GLA official told us they tended to keep the document close to hand in case they cross paths with the Mayor in City Hall. The criteria for estate regeneration posed by this document are already applied as critical success factors by GLA officials in the pre-application planning advice feedback of projects referable to the GLA. The principles of this guidance include evidence of an increase in affordable housing or as a minimum like for like replacement, full rights to return or remain for social tenants, and a fair deal for leaseholders and freeholders. This guide established the foundations for resident ballots in estate regeneration. Whilst we fully support ballots that are run fol-

LEFT: Andover Estate regeneration by HTA Design

Dr Riëtte Oosthuizen, planning partner, HTA Design LLP

lowing appropriate resident consultation, there is one area of concern: the current guidance expects a ballot to take place prior to the procurement of a development partner. This could have substantial implications for public sector bodies or housing associations who are looking at Joint Ventures to deliver expensive estate regeneration schemes. Huge upfront costs would have to be expended to work with residents over a period of time to come to an agreement as to whether estate regeneration would be supported. This would have to be accompanied by substantial amounts of design work – also tested to be viable and deliverable – in order to give residents enough information so they know what they vote for: not only in terms of their rights, but also what type of place would result. There is a problem in this: once development procurement partners are confirmed, there are often changes in design teams meaning a change of approach to design objectives. Would residents perceive this as a major change in approach and therefore promises not being met? The GLA holds the power to monitor progress according the original Landlord Offer and the ability as such to withdraw funding. Working closer with all affected residents to reach a position where more affordable homes can be delivered and their needs being met is absolutely necessary to restore trust in estate regeneration. However, the ongoing Brexit debate makes it evident that binary yes/no voting does not make things straightforward. Timing is critical. There is risk in the expectation that a resident ballot should take place before a Joint Venture partner is appointed. Highly complex projects undergo many changes after Joint Venture partnerships are put in place, including changes in design approach. We need to proceed with care. n

Issue 107 October-December 2018



Forget about chief architects where are all the chief planners? Andy Rogers reports on the RTPI’s recent planning convention Older readers will remember that many years ago in a long-lost golden age, most local authorities had Chief Architects and Chief Planning Officers who dealt with design and development in a logical and successful way for their local areas. Over many years this sensible arrangement has gradually been eroded by the rise of corporate management teams ruled by procedure and funding regimes which have little regard for vision and long-term spatial planning. Not only are there now no Chief Architects, but at June’s Planning Convention, the RTPI launched preliminary research which has found that only 23 per cent of the local authorities surveyed had a head of planning reporting directly to the chief executive, while 9% had no top-level individual responsible for planning at all. The reinstatement of senior posts - both architects and planners - could influence development positively and support more effective growth. The best planning department is always one that has a good and experienced leader at its head. Introducing the convention, John Acres, the current RTPI president, noted that the draft revised NPPF was launched by Theresa May. So planning is no longer the enemy of enterprise, but rather a catalyst for change. This more positive stance might well be underlined by (yet another) new planning minister, Kit Malthouse, who is a strong advocate of local control over planning matters. Other features of the RTPI’s Planning Convention

included the usual plea for better resourcing of planning departments and greater attention to spatial planning. Although the message from the Planning Inspectorate (still well behind its targets for timely appeal decisions) is that as more senior/experienced planners are engaged by the Inspectorate fewer remain to help improve the failing local planning authorities. Also evident was a continuing emphasis on housing for rent (and indeed on renting for life) and the Right to Build - with Richard Bacon MP pointing out that the provision of land and the encouragement of self-builders are duties that most local councils seem to ignore. Massive subsidies for affordable housing (and increasingly complex definitions of same) have been slow to tackle shortages, while the Convention pointed to an increasing number of local authorities that are turning back to building housing themselves and even a new emphasis on Build to Rent over Buy to Let. Historically Chief Architects and Planners knew that local planning works much better for housing provision than national policy and focused on placemaking in preference to revenue-raising. One of last year’s buzzwords was resilience and this Convention’s title ‘Resilient planning for our future’ suggests that planning might now be “returning to its original form or position after being bent, compressed, or stretched”. For readers who would like to read more on this theme I strongly suggest a look at Nicholas

The next meeting of the London Planning & Development Forum will be on 11th December 2018 at Rockwell Property, 23 King Street, St James SW1 Jonathan Manns will be our host Please advise the Hon Secretary at


Planning in London

Andrew Rogerschairs the ACA’s Planning Action Group and is a former director of Manser Associates

Raynsford’s interim report for the TCPA on the state of planning titled ‘Planning 2020’. In the Chief Planners session at the Convention, Steve Quartermain noted that many of the Housing White Paper’s proposals are still to be fully enacted by the MHCLG, but will have an emphasis on good design and faster delivery/implementation. Initiatives such as Neighbourhood Planning suggest that big changes are in hand as planning is transferred down from central government to local councils and communities. In the Convention’s Keynote Address Lord Kerslake pointed out that there have over many years been more government reviews of the planning system than managers of the English football team - let alone planning and housing ministers. Local authorities must be allowed to borrow and build, with the priority being quality not quantity. Whether this can happen in the current climate might depend on the resurgent influence of Chief Architects and Chief Planning Officers. n This column first appeared in the Architects’ Journal


Not radical reform – just more tinkering The Raynsford Review interim report fails to deliver, says Paul Smith Nobody thinks the planning system we have in England is perfect. Developers, councillors, local authorities and residents all complain that it fails to properly reflect their needs and concerns. Yet very few people propose holistic solutions for how it can be improved. On the face of it, therefore, the interim report from the Raynsford Review offers promise. It intends to lay “the foundations for a new planning system which could command the confidence of the public and help deliver the development that the nation needs.” The only way to do that, it claims, is to design a new system, not tinker with the current one.

Unfortunately, it fails to deliver Any Review starts with evidence, but here the evidence seems to be accepted or discounted based on the preconceptions of the panel members rather than a dispassionate consideration of its implications. Despite the report claiming to consider whether we even need a planning system, the impacts of that approach - or, more sensibly, a development licensing or zoning-based system - is given scant regard. Permitted development rights are proposed to be significantly curtailed, despite their success in increasing housing supply, and no consideration is given to how planning systems operate elsewhere in the world (although that work is apparently ongoing). Yet the evidence from a whole range of academic research is that, the more restrictive planning systems become, the higher house prices rise - that, surely, is a fact worthy of consideration when contemplating planning reform. Instead, the 1947 Planning Act is venerated as a golden age of planning and its “outstanding successes” praised. The result is that the nine propositions the Review wants to form the basis of a new planning system are, in large part, embedded in that structure. There is little in the report that is revolutionary. Some of the propositions – like “planning in the public and interest” and “planning with a purpose” are little more than truisms. Others – such as including a “right to a home” in the planning system – appear to be largely cosmetic. Many of the proposals are effectively re-stating the status quo, without considering how existing shortcomings can be tackled. For example, the “gen-

uinely Plan-led” system that the report calls for is what we’re already supposed to have. It’s difficult to operate in that way, though, when Plan preparation is patchy, very slow and results in Plans of varying quality. Ironically, that is one of the short-comings of the system created by the 1947 Act that the report iden- Paul Smith is MD of The tifies. Strategic Land Group One of the consequences of the current Plan process is that, too often in too many authorities, eye-catching idea is to have an element of betterstrategic planning is replaced with planning by ment taxation, linked to capital gains tax, to be appeal. That, surely, is one of the main contributors to directed towards regeneration in low value areas. the loss of public faith that the report is so keen to Conversely, many other common complaints address. Yet there are no suggestions as to how the about the current system are ignored altogether. For Plan process can be improved. example, no consideration is given to the matter of There are some areas where more significant Green Belt policy - somewhat ironic given the report reforms are proposed. At present, no report on plan- acknowledges that one of the main drivers for the 1947 Act, of which it is so reverent, was planning The review was instigated by the TCPA “to challenges in London – especially the sprawl of the identify how the Government can reform the city. Today, London faces a new set of planning chalEnglish planning system to make it fairer, lenges resulting from a lack of housing supply which better resourced and capable of producing could, in part, be addressed by a focussed re-considquality outcomes, while still encouraging the eration of the Metropolitan Green Belt. production of new homes.” The attempt by the Raynsford Review to come up with a comprehensive proposal for a new planning ning would be complete without calling for some system is welcome – too few people have taken up form of land value capture, and the Review has its that challenge and instead propose piecemeal own proposals. These represent incremental changes reform. Yet by viewing the current system through to the current system, including reforms to CIL and the prism of the past, what the interim report delivthe S106 process which are much needed. The most ers isn’t radical reform – just more tinkering. n

Issue 107 October-December 2018



Who’s to blame for the broken housing chain? Simon Bath offers a five-step plan on how housing transactions can become more efficient

In light of the political and economic uncertainty dominating the UK property industry, we need to ensure we are making the process of purchasing a home as accessible as possible. This applies to everyone, from first-time buyers, to buy-to-let investors, to those looking to buy a retirement home. Nationally representative research by When You Move reveals that 18 million Brits noted the legal process of their property transaction as the single most dissatisfying part of buying and selling their home. It is unacceptable that people are being put off by the prospect of a property transaction, especially in a market that relies on the frequency of successful property transactions. When You Move’s latest research shows the dramatic effect that conveyancer absenteeism can have on consumers and the home-buying process. The research revealed that one in four conveyancers are out of the office during the most critical periods of a transaction. As a result, there is an average delay of around seven weeks in the completion of a transaction. In a quarter of such cases, consumers were not told when their solicitor would be returning to the office. The data showed that almost a third of all home buyers have to take time off work to speed up the process themselves by chasing for updates. This is due to a lack of effective communication between all parties involved in the buying and selling of a home. Here is our five-step plan on how transactions can become more efficient: • We need a general shift towards a more consumer focused approach. This needs to be at the heart of the service offered by estate agents, conveyancers and property solicitors. • UK estate agents and conveyancers need to accept the true extent of their case capacity and there needs to be a streamlining of services to avoid gen-


Planning in London

eralist professionals attempting property law to the detriment of the consumer. • Implementation of cloud storage systems – as it stands, the conveyancing process involves hundreds of documents per transaction without a central management system, available in many other sectors. As a result, legal professionals are having to spend hours looking through all of this information manually – further delaying the process. When You Move offers a central platform through which all required documentation can be uploaded and accessed digitally. • The players in the UK property industry needs to embrace a centralised point of communication between all parties involved in the transaction. As it stands, the process is severally fragmented and current forms of communication used contribute to severe delays in the completion of a transaction. When You Move provides a digital solution to combat this, offering real-time updates between all parties involved. By using this platform, consumers have full transparency, thus, eliminating the need for manual chase-ups which add a level of stress to the time-sensitive process. The desktop, android and iOS solution offers a document upload and verification functionality. • With the SRA and CLC regulations coming into effect in December, legal professionals are required to provide an upfront quote for legal services on their website. This is in effort to make the industry more transparent. When You Move champions this and has created a QuickQuote tool for conveyancers, estate agents and mortgage brokers to install on their websites, free of charge. This will ensure they are fully compliant with the reforms and staying a step ahead for their consumers. A consumer-focused approach is what will make

Simon Bath is CEO of When You Move

the property industry future-proof. We are used to information being readily available to us, whether its tracking a food order or our Ubers – we want to be kept in the loop on exactly what is going on. This shouldn’t be any different for the most important and expensive transaction of an individual’s life. The conveyancing process, as it stands, involves hundreds of documents per transaction. These documents are not scanned and centrally available as the software to allow this is simply just not used by lawyers across the industry. Lawyers and conveyancers are therefore having to spend hours looking through all this information manually. As a result, the process is further delayed for the consumer. When You Move wants to make the lengthy paper-trails and wet signatures a thing of the past. In conclusion, there is no one entity to blame in the property arena for the broken housing chain. As an industry, we are renowned for our archaic processes and sluggish reactions. Other sectors, most recently, the health and pharmaceutical industry are embracing tech solutions. The Health Secretary, Matt Hancock MP, announced that the Department of Health are moving forward with abolishing the need for doctors’ signatures for paper prescriptions. He believes this will improve the delivery of care under the NHS, save time for patients and make the lives of hardworking staff members easier. When You Move is lobbying for similar changes in the property sector. The property arena needs to embrace the tech solutions proptech companies are providing to improve the delivery of their service, save time for consumers and make the lives of hard working legal and property professionals much easier. Given the average six-week delay paper trails and majority offline process makes to property transactions, the system of communication used by the industry needs to be revolutionised. n


A new low in office-toresidential conversions The freedom to convert workspace into housing has boosted the number of new, relatively affordable, homes but the absence of control on space standards has allowed some truly bad examples. Julia Park describes one. Having arrived early for a site visit and design review in Newbury Park, at lunchtime on a blisteringly hot Wednesday, I thought I’d explore the area. Opposite the station, on the edge of the A12, one of the busiest, most polluting roads in London, I noticed a seven-storey office block with curtains drawn across most of the windows. It looked lived in and above the traffic noise I could just hear voices inside, including those of children. Back in the office, a quick search of Redbridge’s planning records confirmed that a request for Prior Approval, to convert the building (Newbury House, BELOW) from office to residential use under Permitted Development (PD), was nodded through by the council’s Head of Development Management in 2014.

Assuming the proposals were implemented (and everything suggests they were) each of the six upper floors now comprises 10 self-contained, oneroomed studio flats. The architect’s drawing describes 18 of the studios as ‘singles’ and 42 as ‘doubles’. The smallest single is 13sq m and the smallest double is 14.7sq m. Only one is over 20sq m. All are single aspect with full-width windows. The half that face north receive no sunlight and the half that face south are exposed to the sun for most of the day. My photograph shows the north-facing façade but the fact that people were opening their windows and exposing themselves to that level of noise and pollution suggests that even they were overheating.

Julia Park is Head of Housing Research at Levitt Bernstein.

There are no balconies and no shared outdoor space for what is intended to be more than 100 residents; the ‘site’ is just the footprint of the building and the open, ground floor undercroft is full of rubbish. Introduced by the government for a three-year trial period, office-to-resi PD proved ‘so successful’ that it was made permanent in 2014. Look at the stats: • In 2006, 900 normal applications for office-to-resi conversions were lodged (the highest year in a 10year period); in 2014, 6,500 PD schemes were notified. • The first year of PD legislation generated 2,274% more office-to-resi conversions than the yearly average prior to that. • In inner London, office-to-resi conversions accounted for about 75% of all conversions in 2014, and in the following year PD rights accounted for over 20% of housing starts in London. • In Islington, one year’s worth of PD notifications was more than the total number of ‘normal applications’ in the 10 years before that. • An estimated 4,000 affordable homes were lost as a result of using PD, rather than the normal planning route, in 2013-15. While it may be a success in terms of numbers, this example and many others across the country, represents abject failure in every other way. Most of the blame lies with the government for introducing this form of PD and failing to assess the practical outcomes before making it permanent, but many other organisations and professionals have been complicit; the developer looks to have done the minimum amount of work for the maximum return, the architects agreed to ‘design’ it, Redbridge just said yes, and the GLA remains largely silent on the whole issue. >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018





Planning in London

I don’t know who lives in Newbury House but it’s fair to assume that the majority will have no realistic alternative due to the lack of social housing. While some private landlords unfairly reject tenants in receipt of housing benefit, others actively target them. Why? Because under the rules of the Local Housing Allowance, single people over 35 are entitled to the ‘one-bedroom rate’, rather than the ‘shared rate’ (which is all younger singles can expect). The higher rate is intended to pay for a ‘proper’ one-bedroom flat, but in the absence of a sensible, consistent, legal definition almost anything can be classed as a ‘dwelling’, depending on the context. Fitting a WC, basin, shower, sink and hob and demonstrating that there is space for a bed and a chair often allows a

room of any size to count as self-contained accommodation, irrespective of who lives there or how the rent is funded. A quick exercise on the government’s online LHA calculator reveals that a single adult over 35 is entitled to £160.24 per week for housing costs in the ‘Outer North East London Area’. A couple of miles further south, it rises to £187.25 per week. As far as I can tell, the quality of the accommodation has no bearing on the amount payable. At the low end of the market, landlords frequently choose to offer their accommodation directly to councils. Seen as a ‘win-win’, councils reduce their list, and landlords fill their developments overnight with tenants who are likely to stay for some time

because they won’t be offered anything else. They avoid advertising and letting agent fees and make more money from tenants on housing benefit than they could on the open market. The money is often paid straight to them. To get a sense of how lucrative this can be, if Newbury House was fully let to single people in receipt of the LHA onebedroom rate, the annual rent from the 60 studios would be a few pence short of half a million pounds. I don’t know who lives here or what they pay, and that isn’t really the point. The fact is that no one should have to live like this. n

First published in BDonline, with kind consent:


Making London a National Park City ‘Guerilla Geographer’ Daniel Raven-Ellison spoke to the London Society at Allies + Morrison about his vision to turn London into a ‘National Park City’. Ben Taylor of Hawkins\Brown went along to listen. Opening with the now well-used primer that in 2007 humanity became a majority urban species, the talk began with a barrage of statistics charting the cost of our growing disconnection from the natural world – and its expensive. In lockstep with our increasing urbanity is our torpidity: obesity costs us £900m a year and one in five of the capital’s children are overweight. Meanwhile, mental health conditions cost London £26bn a year. Both of these issues are exacerbated by limited access to outdoor activity (one child in seven hasn’t visited green space of any quality in over a year, we’re told) and could be greatly improved if Londoners had more frequent access to higher-quality outdoor space. We walk our dogs, Dan jabs, because if we don’t they get fat, unhappy and chew up the sofa; why think children should be any different? For Dan, the antidote to these increasingly urban afflictions is literally on our doorstep, and we should be upping our dose. Some more stats: London already boasts 3.8m gardens, 3,000 parks, 30,000 allotments, two national nature reserves, 36 sites of special scientific interest and 142 local nature reserves, within which reside some 13,000 species of wildlife. All in all, 49.5 per cent of the capital is covered by water or vegetation making it already perhaps the greenest city in the world of its size, but many of us chronically underuse it. Dan’s pushing for this to change. It’s here, around half way through, that the talk turns to the campaign to make London the world’s first ‘national park city’. It turns out the process is already well underway – the campaign has the backing of Sadiq Khan and London will be officially reinvented next year. So what is a national park city? Unsurprisingly, it aims to take the ideals of a national park and apply them to London. Unfortunately, if you want to get onto the exclusive list of national parks, you have to be countryside. Under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949, cities just aren’t invited. There’s nothing, however, to stop a city becoming a national park city as nobody has invented them yet – but it turns out that with all its ‘green infrastructure’ London already qualifies as one. What then is the purpose of a national park


Planning in London

London? First, it’s to squeeze a little more green out of London, making 51% of the city green and blue. Then it aims to push Londoners to engage more with it, particularly in an active way. Finally, it aims to create a new identity for London to flaunt to other world cities. And what’s not to like? By grasping the literal and figurative nettle as a national park city, communities can take it on themselves to ecologically boost their neighbourhoods and do more walking, cycling, wild-swimming and gardening, the goal is to get Londoners to live healthier lives outside. There is an enticing idea within this. Understanding London as a national park city pushes us to think beyond the common perception that in contrast to the “great outdoors” of the countryside, the city is somehow indoors. Dan’s vision is not just ecological conservation but regeneration: London can be something that it’s never been before. The capital instead becomes, to borrow from geographer Matthew Gandy, a kind of ecological simulacrum with its own richness. This is a discernible shift away from traditional conservation efforts, in which an emphasis on landscape authenticity makes ecological conservation subjacent to protecting an ideal of national romanticism – nowhere typified more than the national parks. Ironically then, the national park city is in a sense quite unlike the national parks themselves. Moreover, the ecological health of much of the national parks could itself be questioned given to the prevalence of extractive and erosive agricultural methods within. One might then ask whether the aspiration of being a national park is even too low a bar for London? Where the national park city particularly differs from the national parks is in its lack of teeth of associated planning powers. Instead, it will ‘inspire’ a range of grassroots approaches to push communities to improve their own localities through workshops, events, gardening and rewilding initiatives. As a campaign, the call for communities to be doing it for themselves has more than a hint of Cameroon-era ‘Big Society’ about it. Despite the big promises of the talk, could it again be that the communities who might most benefit from skirmishes of guerrilla gardening are not those

‘Guerilla Geographer’ Daniel Raven-Ellison

who have the resources or agency to do it themselves – especially given the campaign’s concern with updating London’s branding strategy. Post-Olympics, it is clearly par for any regeneration campaign to have a sophisticated marketing ident and social media strategy, and a London national park city is no exception. But the risk is that corners of London are turned into a form of neo-pastoral urban spectacle with few benefits beyond real estate speculation. Just look at the New York High Line. As a badge it is also faintly reminiscent of the Transition Towns that emerged in 2006. Pushing for suburban self-sufficiency in the context of peak oil and climate change, the Transition movement was criticised for amounting to little more than a stamp of approval for affluent towns that could already afford to subsist on organic, community grown produce to continue with business as usual with little proactivity. By labelling a city that is already half-green a national park city, the national park city feels uncomfortably similar – and questionably deserving of a city that breached its annual air pollution limit within the first week of 2018. These things aside, the idea of London as a national park city does have an appeal. Dan has an infectious belief that we can ourselves find a reconnection with nature that can come from inside the city that makes you yearn for a wilder London. As with the long history of social and ecological movements, success will not be in ticking off every one of its objectives but in shifting the perception Londoners have of their city and to make a cleaner, greener, more biodiverse urban habitat. n

First published in the London Society blog, with kind consent


How can we steer placemaking in a driverless future? Connected and Autonomous Vehicles present a huge opportunity to radically transform how we live and travel says Louise Brooke-Smith Connected and Autonomous Vehicles – otherwise known as CAV - are no longer the preserve of science fiction. A future in which driverless cars are an increasingly common sight on our city streets is fast becoming a reality, but what does this mean for the shape of the urban environment?

The impact of Digital Disruption on London Every industry, from retail to leisure and health to banking, is being transformed by the rise in new technology. Mobility is no exception. The emerging revolution in driverless vehicles has opened a new frontier of disruption in transportation and urban living. For our cities, exclusively electric Connected and Autonomous Vehicles present a huge opportunity to radically transform how we live and travel. This is an exciting prospect for London. The push towards introducing driverless technology could take more vehicles off the roads, helping to address issues ranging from congestion and an overcrowded public transport system through to poor air quality. In London, 54 per cent of households currently have at least one private motor vehicle and, with Greater London’s population expected to grow by over 0.7 per cent every year to 2046, the strain on


Planning in London

city infrastructure is only set to increase. As ridesharing services continue to proliferate and customer engagement sees year-on-year growth, there is significant potential for automated technology to play a greater role in helping to move people around the city and, by taking more vehicles off the road, free-up space for alternative uses. In fact, a CAV revolution could allow for the reclamation of up to 80 per cent of space currently allocated to car parking in every city. This would potentially free up over 6,300 hectares of land in London alone. To put this into perspective, that’s enough space to build the equivalent of 180,000 much-needed new homes right across the capital.

Integrating and Progressing Crucially however, every city has its own dynamic and, to be successful, driverless vehicles will need to be integrated with and work alongside the existing network. In London, where the focus is on improving public transport and creating opportunities for new homes and jobs by encouraging more healthy travel options, like walking or cycling, this means early government engagement with the private sector will be essential if the benefits of CAV are to be realised and

Louise Brooke-Smith, UK Head of Development & Strategic Planning, Arcadis

work in parallel with London’s wider mobility objectives. We have a unique window of opportunity for local authorities, developers and planners to consider how cities can best adapt now to exploit the potential benefits of driverless technology in the future. The Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) has already provided over £250m in funding to make the UK a premier development location. Yet the fact that Transport for London is focusing heavily on ‘connected citizens’ rather than CAV illustrates the extent to which new and emergent technologies will need to be developed with a view first and foremost on customer needs, experience and value.

Who’s driving London’s future? London has the potential to become more competitive and sustainable through smart outcomes focusing on mobility, resiliency and regeneration. However national, regional and local governance regimes will be critical to success. These elements all need to combine to create an environment where CAV can thrive as part of a balanced eco-system. Stakeholder engagement, regulation and licensing, along with private sector investment and finance, will be key. But importantly, whatever the system adopted, the practical implementation of CAV will take time to emerge. There is no right or wrong way to pursue CAV. City administrations will need be open minded and consider new approaches to established problems, to guide expectations, support culture change and shape behaviours. The planning community has a critical role to play here in shaping the vision and drive for this brave new world. Now is not the time for us to take a back seat! n


Tax the lucky landlords who get windfall benefits from public investment It is time to do something about taxing the lucky landlords who get windfall benefits from public investment argues Paul Finch The pending closure of Villandry, the classy restaurant and bar conveniently close to the RIBA on Great Portland Street, has made headlines because it is a favourite of Amal Clooney: cue newspaper photographs of her, rather than the restaurant. Needless to say, it is not the quality of the restaurant which is causing a problem, but the new rent: double the current level. Amid the row about business rates causing problems on the high street – because stores pay through the nose while online companies like Asos and Amazon pay relatively little – it is worth remembering that rents are invariably a far bigger cost to businesses than rates. However, the relationship between them is little discussed beyond the circle of surveyors who specialise in these matters. That relationship should be better understood, because it has profound effects on the built environment. The fall of Mrs Thatcher as prime minister had far more to do with her misunderstanding of ‘rates’ than her negotiations with Europe; the MPs who turned on her were far more worried about losing their seats because of council tax changes than they were about stalled negotiations in Brussels (then as now). When John Major succeeded her, one of his first actions, not much now remembered, was to reverse the ‘poll tax’ policy. Unfortunately, Conservative politicians continue to have a blind spot about taxes on property. David Cameron, one of the world’s great procrastinators, not only kicked a decision about a new Heathrow terminal into the long grass, but also vetoed the regular rating revaluation, which should have taken place before the last election of his era. The result was that suffering northern businesses continued to pay a disproportionate sum, while the richer south was protected. This politicisation of local authority finance rarely turns out well but continues to this day – because politicians are generally utterly ignorant about these matters, in the same way that they are ignorant of other broad property and construction issues. Note the cretinous recent pronouncements about the ‘failures’ of modular construction. Where can we give

these people a brain transplant? Admittedly, it is not at first glance easy to understand the obscurities of the rating system. The easy assumption is that if rateable value skyrockets, then so too will the amount a business has to pay, but that is not the case. That amount is determined by the ‘rate’ set by the local authority, that being the rate in the pound of rateable value charged. If that sounds confusing, consider the way rent reviews work: based not on inflation but on ‘comparables’ being paid by other tenants for the same sorts of properties in the general area. This wrongly assumes a perfect market with freely available information. Whether it is a review, or the lease has run out, the increase in cost can be huge as a result of fashion – or, these days, as a result of the effect of new infrastructure, which increases the desirability of a location. This last point has become increasingly significant because of the implications of the ‘Elizabeth Line’ and of its possible successor, the highly necessary Crossrail 2, now going through the political wringer. London certainly needs transport capacity; but how

Paul Finch is editorial director of the Architects’ Journal and a joint publishing editor of Planning in London

to pay for it? It is surely time to do something about taxing the lucky landlords who get windfall benefits from public investment and promptly sting their unlucky tenants because of an increase in values to which they have contributed precisely nothing. ‘Beneficial owners’ should stump up. Nor should they be able to reclaim the tax from occupants of their properties, who generally do something useful for the real economy. Can the Conservatives finally get their minds round a sensible policy on this matter? n First published in the AJ, with kind consent

BELOW: Image of Tower Hamlets

Issue 107 October-December 2018



BRIEFING It is the most significant event to affect London for a generation, so the London Society felt that Brexit needed to be debated, and its effects on the capital explored. Saul Collyns reports on the London Brexit Debate held at the Conway Hall last month. With parliament back from summer recess and Brexit looming ever closer, the London Society and OnLondon debate ‘this house believes Brexit will be good for London’ was impassioned, and sharpened by a focus on specific impacts on London. Given that London voted 60 per cent for remain in the referendum, it was not surprising that when Chair Dave Hill asked the audience which way they had voted around two thirds raised their hands for remain. Nevertheless, fervent arguments were put forward by the high calibre speakers – ex Boris Johnson advisor and Deputy Leader of Kensington and Chelsea Daniel Moylan and Victoria Hewson of the Institute of Economic Affairs arguing that Brexit will be good for London, with Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon and Sara John of Best for Britain arguing that Brexit will have detrimental impact. Victoria Hewson argued that Brexit has already rejuvenated British democracy, and that the passionate discussions about WTO rules taking place in pubs across the country are symptomatic of a newly engaged and involved electorate. She also argued that Brexit will be good for environmental health, condemning the European Commission for enabling the Volkswagen emissions scandal by being too susceptible to lobbying. Daniel Moylan stressed the economic value of Brexit, noting that every £1 the European Union invests in Romford is preceded by the UK sending £1.70 to Brussels. He also advocated the benefits of devolved power. Moylan argued that Londoners demonstrated their desire for decisions to be made as close to them as possible when the city voted 72 per cent in favour of directly electing a mayor in 1998, with subsequent mayoralties transforming London for the better. He said it was paradoxical to argue that London should have more powers to govern itself but that air quality should be set from Brussels. What’s more, Moylan also sees great opportunities for London’s workforce: he believes that the city’s economy has grown with an unhealthy dependency on a constant supply of cheap labour, which needs to stop. He argued that in construction less immigration would mean less competition for jobs and therefore higher wages, which will be music to the ears of many. Moylan stressed that this is


Planning in London

Victoria Hewson, Daniel Moylan, Dave Hill (Chair), Sara John and Caroline Pidgeon

merely an acceleration of what would happen anyway: as wages and opportunities rise in countries such as Poland it has always been inevitable that workers will start returning. In contrast, Sarah John reminded the audience that only five of the 33 London boroughs had voted to leave the EU, and although Londoners will always make the most of Brexit, it would be foolish to expect them to be behind it. She argued that embracing other cultures and celebrating difference is at the heart of London’s psyche, which is fundamentally at odds with the Brexit embraced by Nigel Farage. John also argued that the economic impact will be damaging: London has already lost its crown as the world’s leading financial centre to New York, but other industries are affected too. The city’s creative industries (which account for 6 per cent of UK GDP) are overwhelmingly against leaving the EU, and with access to the EU no longer guaranteed broadcasters have already begun to leave London. Caroline Pidgeon made it clear that she does not consider the EU to be perfect, citing its decision-making processes as an area in need of greater transparency. Nevertheless, she argued that there are

great benefits to EU membership. She highlighted the incredibly low interest rates attached to loans from the European Central Bank, which has benefited London in numerous ways, from a £1 billion loan to TfL for station upgrades to support for 30 schools. She noted that Brexit is already leading to stalled investment, which is impacting the economy and could stall new infrastructure investment. Pidgeon also lamented the impact on pan-European families and questioned whether settled status will be easy to obtain in light of the Windrush Scandal. Ultimately she asked the audience to be wary of who is on each side of a debate, noting its often a good sign of whether one is on the right side of an argument (she noted that Trump and Putin are both against the EU). A lively debate ensued with questions from a mix of remain and leave supporters, and feisty ripostes from the panel. One Leave voter, who agreed with Sara John that London might lose jobs, asked whether it could help accelerate a much-needed rebalancing of the UK economy. Moylan argued that job losses from time to time are an inevitable part of freedom of movement, as was the case when Morgan Stanley moved their back office from Scotland to



Hungary in 2005. John noted that EU investment in job creation has actually been directed towards areas which could help rebalance the economy and which are not supported by government policy, such as sustainable mining in South Wales and job creation in Romford, but Victoria Hewson retorted that this is merely evidence that the EU spends our money on ‘stupid things’ like coal mining. One audience member argued that EU migration has been at the expense of immigration from other parts of the world, penalising descendants of the Windrush generation that Caroline Pidgeon had referred to. Daniel Moylan agreed, saying that the EU freedom of movement principle is racist in its outcomes, favouring predominantly white Europeans whilst discriminating against people of colour living in the rest of the world. This was rebuffed by Pidgeon who strongly contested the notion of European immigrants being white, whilst Sara John argued that there are already thousands of unfilled vacancies in areas such as healthcare, and they are unfilled because of barriers the Home Office has put in place making recruitment in Asia and Africa so difficult. Concluding statements on both sides appealed to democracy. Whereas Victoria Hewson reiterated that such debates are symptomatic of a healthy and robust democracy, Caroline Pidgeon emphasized that democracy isn’t stuck in time and that views can change, quoting David Davis who famously once said that nations aren’t democracies if they can’t change their mind. Nevertheless, despite the impassioned arguments, a final show of hands showed that this wasn’t the case for the audience, with roughly the same two thirds voting against the motion that Brexit will be good for London as had declared themselves remain supporters at the beginning of the evening. You can listen to an audio recording of the full debate on the London Society website. Comments are open if you want to share your views. n

Banksy saved in Shoreditch The developer behind a 22-storey hotel planned for the site of a famous Shoreditch bar has submitted detailed plans for how it will rescue two large Banksy artworks from the scene. Preparatory demolition work is imminent for Squire & Partners’ cylindrical Art’otel scheme – eight years after Hackney planners first approved it amid angry opposition from conservationists and locals. The 0.22ha site, at the tip of Shoreditch Triangle where Old Street, Great Eastern Street and Rivington Street converge, is home to a 1950s office building and the former Foundry pub described as “a

crucible of the Britart movement”. The Banksy works are currently covered by hoardings on a back wall overlooking what was until recently the Last Days of Shoreditch bar and street food pop-up. The largest, a giant rat with a red eye, is about 6m high. Next to it is a smaller work showing a television being thrown out of a window while still plugged in. The buildings are set to have gone by Christmas and the contractor has submitted details of how it will rescue the works by removing the wall from the floorplates and using two cranes to move it to the nose of the site where it can be safely stored until construction of the 300+-room hotel is complete. The works are due to be re-displayed in the new building. – BDonline BELOW: Ground floor plan - Squire and Partners’ Art’otel tower for the Foundry site in Shoreditch

Kingston first to ballot tenants Kingston Council is one of the first London boroughs to agree to hold a resident ballot for an estate regeneration project. The decision to undertake a ballot has been welcomed by the Mayor of London, who strongly supports their use in all plans for estate regeneration. As part of the plans, the council has committed to the re-provision of the existing social rented homes and affordable options for existing leaseholders so that all of those who wish to stay on the estate are able to do so. James Murray, Deputy Mayor for Housing & Residential Development said: “When estate regeneration is done well – with residents at the heart of decision-making – it can improve homes for existing residents, create more social housing, and provide better outdoor spaces. We welcome Kingston’s commitment to ballots and we look forward to working together to build more council homes.”

In February 2018 Mayor Sadiq Khan published the Good Practice Guide to Estate Regeneration calling on councils and housing associations to ballot estate residents on large GLA-funded schemes involving demolition. The move was designed to make sure people living on housing estates were at the heart of any decisions from the outset. Cllr Liz Green, Leader of Kingston Council, says: “It is a key priority of the council to ensure that residents and the local community are at the heart of the regeneration of Cambridge Road Estate both now and in the future. We have made a real commitment to listen to those living on the estate and will work closely with residents on how the estate will be developed so that it is fit for the future. This is the first step in making sure that happens.” SEE Opinions by Mariead Carrol and Riëtte Oosthuizen pp10-11

Issue 107 October-December 2018




From: Philip Waddy, partner at West Waddy ADP and chairman, Royal Institute of British Architects planning group

More on-site monitoring should be required Dear Editor Once approved, there is little if any control over the quality of what actually gets built. Unlike building control, where a completion certificate is issued, there is no certification of compliance with planning consent. In my experience, once permission is granted and conditions discharged, planning authorities seldom monitor what actually happens on-site. Architects traditionally administer construction projects and are held liable for ensuring compliance with standards, both planning and building control. But with more than half of UK construction output delivered via design-and-build, who takes responsibility? Some form of completion certification would encourage applicants, agents, developers and builders to ensure that what is built meets the expectations of the original planning permission. It may be a radical suggestion, but the system might better be served by a single approvals process for the built environment, starting with outline planning permission, then detailed consent, then technical consent, then finally post-completion certification. EDITOR’S NOTE We have argued in editorials that the planning system is odd in that it fails to certify compliance upon completion of a development. In Spain it is not possible to have a permanent electricity meter connected until the architect and the planning officer have certified compliance with both planning and building control approvals. For a place of work, a doctor’s certificate of compliance with health regulations is also required. The Grenfell disaster story underlines the need not just for the ‘golden thread’ of continuous responsibility from start to finish and then in use but also the need for an independent professional to certify compliance. n


Planning in London


Carbuncular nomination upsets its architect It’s the one award that no architect wants to win, but having narrowly escaped collecting this year’s Carbuncle Cup for Britain’s worst new building, the designer of a lurid orange ecohouse in Streatham has spoken of his outrage at being nominated, reports The Times. The low-energy house in a leafy area of Streatham (RIGHT) was described as looking “more like an electricity substation than a home” by the judges. Chris Moore, 39, a partner at Pace Jefford Moore, has hit back, however, saying he is “very proud” of the design, adding: “I’m an architect — I know what I’m doing.” Mr Moore, who lives in the £800,000 home with his fiancée and 20-month-old daughter, told the Evening Standard that the nomination called into question the award’s validity and that it would be better used to highlight large abuses of public space rather than single out his dream home. The judges in the end presented the 2018 Carbuncle Cup to a £45 million leisure centre and car park in Stockport. Part of a £1 billion regeneration project, it was described as a “sad metaphor for our failing high streets” and an “absolute monstrosity”. Designed by BDP, its garish cladding and arbitrary angles failed to impress a panel of judges that included the editor of Building Design which organises the annual award.

Delivery test will undermine design quality says Councillor "We are being beaten up under the new housing delivery test to actually deliver houses and that means planning permissions going through that, many years ago, would quite frankly not have gone through, because people are desperate to get houses permitted and then actually see them built. The ability to turn things down and have design discussions and to refuse on design grounds is very limited today. If they are turned down, we see what happens when it goes to appeal and there's political pressure on inspectors to nod them through. There's

enormous momentum in government to get boxes built and I'm worried that the design principles will be forfeited in that rush." – so says Councillor Martin Tett, the leader of Buckinghamshire County Council and chair of the LGA environment, economy, housing and transport board. He was speaking at the Conservative Party Conference. (ALSO see his article in PIL 105)

Paragraph 55 is dead – long live paragraph 81, part E The notorious country house clause, much loved by architects and their clients since it allows the possibility of ‘exceptional design’ to overcome all other reasoning and allow for the building of a new house in the ‘countryside’. In the reformatting of the NPPF the same provision subsists but its location is renumbered. ”Paragraph 81. It’s not exactly Rolling off the tongue. Paragraph 55 is kind of cool, like Route 66 or 99 Flake. 55 is rock around the clock, a young Elvis about to break through and the apotheosis of James Dean. 55 is hip homes for the young at heart. But 81? Plan B thinks only of Toxteth riots and the wedding of Charles and Diana – and we all know where that ended up.” – quote from Plan B in The Planner

Validation delays "If local authorities were able to sit on applications for two or three months before validating them, then there would be absolute uproar. The Government would not sit back and allow that to happen – but that’s exactly what’s happening with appeals.” – Simon Ricketts


NHBC reports uplift in new home growth for London More than 13,700 new homes were registered to be built in the UK during August, according to the latest NHBC registration figures, with strong growth in London. In London, a considerable increase in the number of private rental sector developments and large housing association projects during this three month period has contributed to a 145 per cent increase in registrations compared to the same period in 2017. Commenting on the August figures, NHBC Chief Executive Steve Wood said: “We continue to see strong numbers in many parts of the UK with a substantial uplift in London, driven by increased activity by housing associations and the continued flow of inward investment on for-sale and private rental developments. 13,713 new homes were registered in August , a one per cent increase on the same month last year. 10,588 new homes were registered for the private sector (10,738 in 2017), and 3,125 in the affordable sector (2,801 in 2017). For the rolling quarter, between June and August, 42,547 new homes were registered compared to 38,296 in 2017 – an increase of 11 per cent. During this period there were 30,738 new homes registered in the private sector (28,660 in 2017: +7 per cent) and 11,809 in the affordable sector (9,636 in 2017: +23 per cent). –

Government scraps the cap on council borrowing for building new homes Speaking at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham, the Prime Minister said she was lifting the limit on what local authorities could spend on residential schemes and would allow them to use revenues from existing social housing to invest in new stock.

The Design Museum to exhibit Adjaye The exhibition early next year will focus on seven of Adjaye’s buildings to explore the role of monuments in his work, both as a design process and a way of creating memory. Including projects such as the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. (ABOVE) and the National Cathedral of Ghana, these monuments and memorials show how Adjaye uses architecture to reflect on history and memory, and to record human lives. Monuments are a record of who we are and are deeply ingrained in our psyche as a way of memorialising our triumphs and failures. However, the form that monuments take, and the way they are experienced, is constantly changing. In this exhibition, architect Sir David Adjaye OBE will examine the idea of the monument and present his thinking on how architecture and form are used as storytelling devices. David Adjaye: Making Memory at the Design Museum, Kensington 02.02.19 – 05.05.19

It is a move that has long been called for by councils and could, many hope, kickstart a new wave of social housing projects. She told the conference: ‘There’s a government cap on how much [local authorities] can borrow against their Housing Revenue Account assets to fund new developments. Solving the housing crisis is the biggest domestic policy challenge of our generation. It doesn’t make sense to stop councils from playing their part in solving it. So today I can announce that we are scrapping that cap. We will help you get on the housing ladder and we will build the homes this country needs.’ A ‘delighted’ RIBA president Ben Derbyshire said: ‘The prime minister quite rightly says that the housing shortage is the biggest domestic policy crisis the

country faces. But it is not enough to simply build more, the houses of today need to be designed and built to last. Cllr Darren Rodwell, London Councils Executive member for housing and planning, said: “We are delighted that the government has listened to councils and freed us to build more new council homes. London boroughs have long called for the power to borrow to invest in new homes because we know London’s housing crisis is driven by lack of housing supply, particularly affordable housing. We pledge to use this new freedom to play a bigger role in delivering the housing that Londoners so desperately need and look forward to working with government in making it a reality.” >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018



>>> Changes

are coming to planning in the City of Westminster “Westminster is going to be a very different place in 12 months time. City of Westminster Councillor Nickie Aiken says: “We are looking at a complete overhaul of planning in Westminster from the moment you put in an application all the way through to decision making. The vision is to ensure that residents – particularly on major applications – work more closely with the Council and applicants from the very beginning. People don’t think they are being listened to and things are being done to them. In Westminster we are moving to a different relationship with our residents,” It’s [planning] top down and we have to make sure planning is from the bottom up as we have to make sure business, residents and neighbours work together to get the best development for an area.” – online Estates Gazette here.

Labour promises “root and branch rethink” of the planning system Labour has launched a “root and branch rethink” of the planning system aimed at giving local communities more of a voice in local planning decisions. At its party conference in Liverpool last month, Labour announced the creation of a planning commission to reach out to communities across the country that they say have been denied a voice about decisions affecting their towns, villages and cities. Labour is concerned that the government’s deregulation of planning has resulted in residents being ignored when decisions are made about new developments in their community. Their commission will cover all aspects of the planning process, including the necessary infrastructure to underpin new development and crucial aspects of any proposed development, including genuinely affordable housing for social rent, in order to create a planning system that works in the public interest. Labour say their planning commission will inform the party’s reforms to the planning system that are “necessary to fix our broken housing market and create a housing system fit to deliver Labour’s housing policy, including one million genuinely affordable homes”. A key aim of the commission will be to address the marginalisation of voices of communities and residents in the planning process which the party says has been “reinforced by the imbalance in expertise and resource between communities and private sector bodies and a lack of transparency in the plan-


Planning in London

ning system”. The commission will be made up of experienced planners and experts from the housing industry and will hold meetings across the country, meeting with residents, planners, local authorities and developers. The commission will also be asking for written submissions. Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour’s shadow minister for planning and local government said: “Our planning system has seen a number of changes in recent years, but these all add up to more deregulation, and a system that is no longer working for our communities. The voice of local residents must be at the heart of decisions about the future of their communities. Despite warm words from the government about planning, communities are increasing side-lined in the decision making process, and feel they have no say in the type of development they get. The commission will help Labour design a planning system fit for not only the 21st century but the 22nd century, and will examine the role local people have in shaping the future of their area and planning in advance for new infrastructure; for jobs; for access to schools; new transport; greater access to green spaces, and the need to enhance the built and natural environment.” The construction sector will be able to get involved in Labour’s review as the commission will include representatives of the RICS and RIBA as well as industry organisations like the British Property Federation and the Federation of Master Builders. The commission will issue a call for evidence on 25 October, followed by a series of regional meetings. The commission’s conclusions are due to be delivered next year. – Infrastructure Intelligence

CaMKoX authorities to fund infrastructure with ‘land value capture’ mechanism Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority has announced plans looking to use land value capture mechanisms "to recapture any investment of taxpayers’ money to then plough back into delivering even more housing". The idea is that to enable the delivery of 100,000 new homes by 2037, the combined authority’s strategy will have a suite of public sector financing "tools", including a land value capture mechanism to fund a revolving strategic investment fund (SIF), designed to invest in unblocking schemes, take a return, and then reuse the money elsewhere. At its September board meeting, the combined authority decided to work up the plans in more detail and allotted £40 million for the SIF. The value capture tool would be applied to

housing sites that are dependent on infrastructure, such as a road, to make them developable. The SIF will fund the necessary infrastructure through a loan to the site landowner which is secured against a charge on the land. When the land is sold to a developer, the charge is triggered, and the SIF receives a share of the sale proceeds, repaying the loan. Details of the tool, such as how much is paid back through the charge and when, "will depend on the context of each site and the terms negotiated on individual deals". Stephen Ashworth, a partner at Dentons, said the idea was not wholly new, with housing quango Homes England and the Greater London Authority’s Land Fund already pursuing similar approaches. – Planning

The next meeting of the London Planning & Development Forum will be on 11th December 2018 at Rockwell Property, 23 King Street, St James SW1 Jonathan Manns will be our host

To attend please advise the Hon Secretary at

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For further details and to book tickets, go to! !


Fewer permissions being granted especially for commercial development Latest planning performance by English districts and London boroughs: Planning Applications in England: April-July 2018 OVERVIEW Between April and June 2018, district level planning authorities in England: • received 118,100 applications for planning permission, down four per cent for the corresponding quarter of 2017; • granted 94,300 decisions, down four per cent from the same quarter in 2017; this is equivalent to 88 per cent of decisions, unchanged from the same quarter of 2017; • decided 87 per cent of major applications within 13 weeks or the agreed time, down one percentage point from a year earlier; • granted 11,900 residential applications, down three per cent on a year earlier: 1,500 for major developments and 10,300 for minors; • granted 2,200 applications for commercial developments, down 10 per cent on a year earlier; • received 10,100 applications for prior approval for permitted development rights, down nine per cent from the same quarter of 2017. Of these, 1,200 applications were for changes to residential use, of which 800 were given the go-ahead without having to go through the full planning process. In the year ending June 2018, district level planning authorities: • granted 374,200 decisions, down three per cent on the year ending June 2017; • granted 48,800 decisions on residential developments, of which 6,400 were for major developments and 42,400 were for minors, down by two and three per cent respectively on the year ending June 2017; • granted 9,700 applications for commercial developments, down 11 per cent on the year ending June 2017.

Planning applications During April to June 2018, authorities undertaking district level planning in England received 118,100 applications for planning permission, down four per cent on the corresponding quarter in 2017. In the year ending June 2018, authorities received 464,800 planning applications, down three per cent on the year ending June 2017 (Live Tables P120/P132/P134 and Table 1). Planning decisions Authorities reported 106,900 decisions on planning applications in April to June 2018, a decrease of five per cent on the 112,000 decisions in the same quarter of the previous year. In the year ending June 2018, authorities decided 426,400 planning applications, down three per cent on the number in the year ending June 2017 (Live Tables P120/P133/P134 and Table 1). Applications granted During April to June 2018, authorities granted 94,300 decisions, down four per cent on the same quarter in 2017. Authorities granted 88 per cent of all decisions, unchanged from the June quarter of 2017 (Live Tables P120/P133). Overall, 83 per cent of major and minor decisions were granted (Live Table P131). Over the 12 months to June 2018, 374,200 decisions were granted, down three per cent on the figure for the year to June 2017 (Live Tables P122/P132 and Table 1). Historical context Figure 1 and Table 1 show that, since 2005, the numbers of applications received, decisions made and applications granted have each followed a similar pattern. As well as the usual within- year pattern


Planning in London

of peaks in the Summer and troughs in the Winter, there was a clear downward trend during the 2008 economic downturn, with figures remaining broadly level since then, albeit with numbers showing a slight upward trend recently. Figure 1 shows that the numbers of applications received in recent years are about 30 per cent below the peak in 2004/05. Historical figures for all district level decisions dating back to 2004 are set out in Live Table P120, with separate breakdowns for residential and commercial decisions being shown in Live Tables P120A and P120B respectively. These latter two tables are discussed below in the sections on residential and commercial decisions1. Figure 1: Number of planning applications received, decided and granted by district authorities Figure 2 summarises the distribution of the percentage of decisions granted across authorities for major, minor and other developments using box and whisker plots. The ends of the box are the upper and lower quartiles, meaning that 50 per cent of local authorities fall within this range. The whiskers are the two lines above and below the box that extend to the highest and lowest observations (the range). Figure 2 shows that the variation in percentage of decisions granted this quarter is widest between authorities for major developments (0 to 100 per cent), followed by minor developments (50 to 100 per cent) and other developments (65 to 100 per cent) (Live Tables P120/P131). Speed of decisions • In April to June 2018, 87 per cent of major applications were decided within 13 weeks or within the agreed time, down one percentage point from the same quarter a year earlier. • In April to June 2018, 84 per cent of minor applications and 90 per cent of other applications were decided within eight weeks or the agreed time, both down by one percentage point from a year earlier. Figure 3 summarises the distribution of the percentage of decisions made in time across authorities for major, minor and other developments using box and whisker plots. The ends of the box are the upper

RIGHT: Number of planning applications received, decided and granted by district level planning authorities

and lower quartiles, meaning that 50 per cent of local authorities fall within this range. The whiskers are the two lines above and below the box that extend to the highest and lowest observations (the range). Figure 3 shows that the variation in percentage of decisions made in time this quarter is widest between authorities for major developments (0 to 100 per cent), followed by minor developments (28 to 100 per cent) and other developments (61 to 100 per cent) (Live Tables P120, P123 and P131). Use of performance agreements Table 2 shows the increase in the use of performance agreements3 since April 2014. It shows that they are more commonly used for major developments than minor or other developments4. Figure 4 shows, from 2009, numbers of decisions on major developments made involving a performance agreement, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of all decisions on major developments. Notwithstanding definitional changes, there has

Planning decisions by development type, speed of decision and local planning authority: April-July 2018. Table 131 can be found with all tables and figures here: Source: CLG/ONS been a marked increase in the use of agreements since early 2013, although the increases have slowed down in recent quarters. In reality, this longer upward trend has been driven by both the additional scope for recording them and their additional use. The proportion of major decisions subject to an agreement was 63 per cent during April to June 2018 (Table 2). Performance of individual district level local planning authorities Live Tables P151a and P153 present data on the performance of district level local planning authorities against the latest5 published criterion in Improving planning performance: criteria for desig-

nation on the speed of decision-making for informing decisions on the designation of poorly performing local planning authorities under section 62B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In particular, Live Table P151a gives detailed figures for the time taken for major decisions to be made over the eight most recent quarters and Live Table P153 presents data for the time taken by district level local planning authorities for decisions on ‘non-major developments’ (previously ‘minor and other developments’, and defined as minor developments, changes of use and householder developments) to be made over the eight most recent quarters. Similarly, Live Table P152a, presents data on the performance of district level local planning authorities against the latest 6 published criterion in Improving planning performance: criteria for designation on the quality of decision-making for assessing performance under section 62B of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990. In particular, it gives detailed figures for the percentage of major decisions subject to a successful planning appeal, by matching eight quarters of the department’s data on decisions and all available quarters of Planning Inspectorate data on appeals. This table is usually published a few weeks after the statistical release and most of the other live tables, to take account of the latest appeals data. Live Table P154 presents data for the percentage of decisions on minor and other developments (as defined for Table P153) subject to a successful planning appeal, by matching eight quarters of the department’s data on decisions and all available quarters of Planning Inspectorate data on appeals. Like Table P152a, this table is usually published a few weeks after the statistical release and most of the other live tables, to take account of the latest >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018



appeals data.of the other live tables, to take account of the latest appeals data. Residential decisions In April to June 2018, 15,800 decisions were made on applications for residential 7 developments, of which 11,900 (75 per cent) were granted. The total number of residential decisions made decreased by three per cent from the June quarter of 2017, with the number granted also dropping three per cent. The number of major residential decisions granted decreased by one per cent to 1,500, and the number of minor residential decisions granted decreased by three per cent to 10,300 (Live Tables P120A, P123 and P135). In the year ending June 2018, authorities granted 6,400 major and 42,400 minor residential applications, down by two per cent and three per cent respectively on the year ending March 2017 (Live Tables P120A and P136). Residential units The figures collected by the department look at the numbers of decisions on planning applications submitted to local planning authorities, rather than the number of units included in each application, such as the number of homes in the case of housing developments. The department supplements this information by obtaining statistics on housing permissions from a contractor8. The latest figures show that permission for 351,700 homes was given in the rolling year to 30 June 2018:  down four per cent compared to the 365,700 homes granted permission in the rolling year ending in the previous quarter, to 31 March 2018, and  up six per cent compared to the 332,200 homes granted permission in the rolling year, when compared with the previous full year, to 30 June 2017. On an ongoing basis, figures are revised to ensure that any duplicates are removed, and also


Planning in London

toinclude any projects that local planning authorities may not have processed: they are therefore subject to change. These figures are provided to give contextual information, and have not been designated as National Statistics. Table 3 and Figure 6 show how the rolling annual total of housing units granted has changed since Q2 2007. Commercial decisions In April to June 2018, 2,500 decisions were made on applications for commercial developments, of which 2,200 (90 per cent) were granted. The total number of commercial decisions made decreased by nine per cent on the same quarter of 2017. In the year ending June 2018, 9,700 applications for commercial developments were granted, down 11 per cent on the year ending June 2017 (Live Table P120B). Trends in numbers of residential and commercial decisions Historically, numbers of residential decisions dropped sharply during 2008 (particularly for minor decisions) but have been increasing since 2012, albeit with some decreases recently. Numbers of commercial decisions made also decreased sharply during 2008, and have since stabilised at around 2,100 per year for major and 10,000 per year for minor commercial decisions, albeit with some decreases recently, particularly for minor decisions. In 2017/18, numbers of major commercial decisions were at about 57 per cent of the pre-recession peak, with the numbers of minor commercial decisions being at about 40 per cent (Live Tables P120A and P120B, Figure)10. The percentages of major and minor residential decisions granted increased between 2008/09 (from about 65 per cent for each type) and

2010/11 (to about 80 per cent for majors and about 75 per cent for minors), and have stabilised since then. The percentages of major and minor commercial decisions granted have been increasing steadily, from 88 and 86 per cent respectively in 2008/09, to 94 and 91 per cent respectively in 2017/18 (Live Tables P120A and P120B, Figure 7). Trends in the percentage of residential and commercial decisions granted The percentages of major and minor residential decisions granted increased between 2008/09 (from about 65 per cent for each type) and 2010/11 (to about 80 per cent for majors and about 75 per cent for minors), and have stabilised since then. The percentages of major and minor commercial decisions granted increased steadily, from 88 and 86 per cent respectively in 2008/09, to 94 and 91 per cent respectively in 2014/15, and have been stable since then (Live Tables P120A and P120B, Figure 8). Householder developments are those developments to a house which require planning permission such as extensions, loft conversions and conservatories (more details are in the Definitions section). The number of decisions on householder developments was 56,500 in the quarter ending June 2018, accounting for 53 per cent of all decisions, down four per cent from the 59,000 decisions in the quarter ending June 2017. Authorities granted 91 per cent of these applications and decided 92 per cent within eight weeks or the agreed time (Live Table P123). Permitted development rights Planning permission for some types of development has been granted nationally through legislation, and the resulting rights are known as ‘permitted development rights’. In some cases, if the legislation is com-

plied with, developments can go ahead without the requirement to notify the local planning authority and hence no way of capturing data exists. In other cases, the legislation requires an application to the local planning authority to determine whether prior approval is required (more details are in the Definitions section). The results for the latest quarter for which they have been collected (April to June 2018) are included in Live Tables PDR1 (local authority level figures) and PDR2 (England totals). Of the 10,100 applications reported in the April to June quarter of 2018, prior approval was not required for 5,600, and permission was granted for 2,500 and refused for 1,900. This resulted in an overall acceptance rate of 81 per cent. Larger householder extensions accounted for 75 per cent of applications (7,600), with five per cent relating to office to residential changes and five per cent to agricultural to residential changes. ‘All other’ permitted development rights, accounted for 13 per cent of applications down from 14 per cent a year earlier. Taking i) granted applications and ii) those for which prior approval was not required together, 8,200 applications were approved without having to go through the full planning process, down seven per cent from a year earlier. Within an overall decrease of nine per cent in the reported total number of PDR applications between April to June 2017 and April to June 2018: • larger householder extensions decreased by six per cent; • office to residential changes decreased by 22 per cent; • agricultural to residential changes decreased by eight per cent; and • ‘all other’ permitted development rights decreased by 17 per cent. Figures for the total number of permitted development right applications made for changes

Issue 107 October-December 2018



Garden towns, Land Value Capture & London Plan and the NPPF Minutes of the London Planning and Development Forum at UCL on Monday 17th September 2018. Full minute by Drummond Robson at > LP&DF Brian Waters welcomed the group with introductions and apologies. DISCUSSION TOPICS 1 Garden Towns: can they take pressure off London? Eric Sorensen trustee of the London Society and Nicholas Falk (Urbed). The Chairman introduced the two speakers. The more general policy related theme from Eric Sorensen went first. He began with a brief look at the policy context set by the Government's housing White Paper, February 2017, The Broken Housing Market. The core proposition there is to increase housing output from about 150K pa in England to about 250K. This would widen housing choice and contain house prices, both desired outcomes. The White Paper offers a blizzard of initiatives and a reminder of programmes already in play: • Up to date local plans and support for planning authorities to process applications; • Standardised housing needs assessments; • Action on delayed implementation of planning approvals; • Efficient use of land and development at appropriate densities; • Simplifying the process for developer contributions; • More straightforward and consistent viability tests;

Meeting on Monday 17th September 2018 at UCL Our host: Dr Jessica Ferm Brian Waters (Chairman) Claudio de Magalhaes: UCL Dongho Han: UCL Eric Sorensen: Trustee of the London Society Gualtiero Bonvino: UCL Jessica Ferm: UCL Jonathan Manns: Jonathan Bower: Womble Bond Dickinson Michael Bach: London Forum (for part)


Planning in London

• Greater transparency in land ownership; – Better procedures on utility connections; • Encouraging greater number and diversity of housebuilders; – £l bn Homebuilding Fund to facilitate this; • £2bn Housing and Infrastructure Fund; – £2bn Accelerated Construction Programme, a combination to speed up housing use of public sec-

Michael Hebbert: UCL Nan Li: UCL Nicholas Falk: URBED Peter Eversden: London Forum Simon Ricketts: Town Legal Tim Wacher: RICS Tom Ball: London Forum Drummond Robson: Honorary Secretary Apologies from David Bradley (abroad), Michael Chang (TCPA), Michael Edwards (UCL), Ron Heath, Riette Oosthuizen (HTA), Duncan Bowie. There was no attendance from GLA or TfL.

tor land and the use of modern construction methods; • £7bn Affordable Housing Programme • £45m public sector Land Release Fund; • and much more. There are important references to preparing land for development including use of CPOs and locally accountable Development Corporations. There are also references to the importance of creating good new communities, good design, good placemaking, places which work well in all dimensions. (ES contrasted this with the approach applied in Docklands in the 1980s to mid 90s – White land in the local plan and a million miles from being plan led, as the local authorities of Docklands wanted). To all this is added Garden Towns and Garden Villages, seemingly as an afterthought, but obviously with more intent than just that. The February 2017 White Paper doesn't have much to say about these but there is a map (SEE above) included which shows their putative distribution. 10 Garden Towns are mainly shown around London and the South East, with 14 Garden Villages more widely >>>

distributed across England. They may be extensions to existing places or freestanding settlements. If the proposed settlement is greater than 10K homes it moves from being a Village to a Town. [Editorial Note: MHCLG produced a new Garden Communities Prospectus in August 2018 inviting proposals by 9 November 2018]. and SEE: 5 Mar 2018: What you need to know about garden villages and towns after the government approved plans to build 14 new communities in England. The total estimated housing output of these towns and villages over up to 30 years could be 200,000 homes, or of the order of four per cent of hoped for future housing output in England. Or putting it another way, this housing output is only twice that of one London Borough, Tower Hamlets, admittedly only comparing Tower Hamlets' prospective five years of development output. So the Garden Movement needs to be assessed with a certain sense of perspective. Meanwhile, however, things are moving on Garden Towns. They get a specific brief reference in the latest draft of the NPPF. And last month the MHCLG launched a competition inviting local authorities, master developers and others to bring forward outline proposals on garden settlements. These have to be with MHCLG by November and those getting through to the next stage will be offered some support to develop their proposals. It is early days so anything said now about Garden Towns and Villages will need to be constantly reviewed. But some preliminary thoughts are : • the projected scale of Garden related development will be overwhelmed by projected housing development in general; • the principles of the Garden settlement design concept overlap with the Sustainable Development concept and with the Good Design principles summarised in the NPPF. Indeed it is difficult to sort out the difference between the objectives and desired outcomes of housing related development in general and those underpinning Garden Towns and Villages. That said, two points are worth noting. The Garden prospectus does literally emphasise greening as a key outcome but without referencing specifics, eg tree lined boulevards, allotments, lakes, every home to have a garden, lots of public transport, no cars. Also, no reference as to how all this might relate to density objectives. Second, there is a specific reference to stewardship of public assets. That is, there needs to be summary proposals as to how the settlements' public assets, so important in determining the character of the investment, are to be managed and maintained. • if the MHCLG programme gets underway quickly

and gets a good level of support from all concerned then we could see the Garden Towns and Villages programme providing exemplar developments. These would influence housing development in general, and for the better. • Ecotowns are no longer mentioned. On the other hand the Garden brand could be tarnished if it turns out to be a marketing initiative to help promote development, and where the housing outcome turns out to be no better than anything else being offered. This risk is real given the present decline in activity by housebuilders. ES had three concerns: 1 To Avoid confusing the market with too many choices 2 Need for associated infrastructure plans 3 Need for government to be more courageous In amplification ES said that the building process too now lacks courage with too many alterations being made to encourage the confidence to carry schemes out. He contrasted this attitude of pervasive uncertainty with the enormous effort of new town creation in the 1980s which now seems to have died - although it could still be revived with the proper will and drive. Nicholas Falk’s presentation Garden Towns and the Future of London followed before any discussion. His was an economist’s view of the issues, derived from the February 2018 Capital Gains Research Report with others commissioned by the GLA. files/gla_capital_gains_report_.pdf

NF offered the perception that Cities grow like dominoes not jigsaw puzzles and this model would be more conducive to land assembly in the case of London. He said that housebuilding has plateaued while prices have escalated and offered the graph above. NF criticized new settlement design as often

being weak and that we should benefit from more study of European examples. He put forward Rieselfeld, a sustainable district of the German city of Freiburg. It uses building groups on underused land to create diversity. Dutch towns have built sustainable urban extensions with local authorities having ‘First >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018



>>> Choice’, and use social housing to rebalance urban areas such as in the urban extension of Vathorst Amersfoort (pictured RIGHT). French cities use ZACs (zones d'aménagement concerté) to join up development and infrastructure – forms of urban regeneration. They are to be found for example in Montpellier (SEE diagram below) and Paris. Danish cities support cooperatives through Public Asset Corporations that pool public land such as Aarhus and Ørestad on Amager Island in Copenhagen. Vienna leads the way in keeping housing costs down through mixed rental housing. New rental apartments in Nordbahnhof. NF put forward a Leipzig example of a scheme successfully integrated with political will (The Leipzig model of civic Governance). NF maintained that Good housing delivery needs a strong framework with a clear interplay of economic success, quality of life and urban management: NF considered that the term Green Web was more helpful than Green Belt. Urbed has been promoting an example of this in West London (City of the West for 200,000 new homes and 200,000 new jobs) with opposition from Hillingdon in particular because of the Heathrow factor and a wish to protect Northolt Airport for its strategic significance, about which NF was very sceptical. SEE extracts from “City in the West Growth Point” [Western Wedge] on facing page. NF voiced his opinion that Keys to good delivery include: 1. Spatial growth plans that a. Map infrastructure capacity b. Anticipate demands 2. Land assembly powers to 1. Pool public land 2. Mobilise under-used private land eg tax reform 3. Cheap finance for infrastructure 1. Borrowing against land value uplift eg bonds 2. Repaid by selling off serviced plots 4. Frameworks for balanced incremental development 1. Define affordable/social housing ratios 2. Endow trusts to maintain public space. DISCUSSION Brian Waters introduced the discussion voicing the opinion that the current pattern of bringing in a developer but providing the infrastructure later was unwise or unworkable. He also said that there was no visionary planning but reactinve rather than acting positively and implementing. NF supported this adding that it was first important to identify the area to focus on [based on experience


Planning in London

ABOVE TOP LEFT:Dutch towns have built sustainable urban extensions with local authorities having ‘First Choice’, and use social housing to rebalance urban areas such as in the urban extension of Vathorst Amersfoort. TOP RIGHT: In Leipzig an example of a scheme successfully integrated with political will. BELOW: French cities use ZACs (zones d'aménagement concerté) or to join up development and infrastructure – forms of urban regeneration.

not political aspiration]. London’s Opportunity Areas by contrast were largely unsuccessful, perhaps with the exception of “The City in the East”. It was observed that there was too much protection of the status quo with often little understanding of how to create or effect change. Drummond Robson added the illustration that even though CPO was being made more widely available to local authorities very few had experience of making or confirming CPOs or the genuine seriousness of the undertaking. This has to start with telling someone that they would have to

move from where they live. His own experience included doing this for the regional town and shopping centre of Wood Green (identified by GLC with advice from URBED). It involved a major CPO and inquiry with over 200 landed interests to be acquired and assembled with multiple institutional funding to bring land into profitable public ownership. ES added that more intervention was needed by people who are both competent and well intentioned. Furthermore he reminded us that at least 15 years should be allowed for housing to actually


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Issue 107 October-December 2018



be built if it was worth achieving at all. He also said that insufficient thought is given to encouraging incentive. The Revenue Support system is well thought out and further encouragement could be given to infrastructure financing from a Business Bank. Jessica Ferm queried what sites should be looked at, emphasising that less intensive land uses such as distribution centres were often crucial. Jonathan Manns cited outer London such as Enfield Urban Extensions of 16-20 dwellings/acre. There was also criticism that there was widespread lack of understanding of the way these places work. (Emeritus Prof Mike Batty’s work - now continued by others - was proffered as a source of investigation. E.g. CASA (Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis). [Editorial note: This is work in the sense of economic modelling, not spatial, design or social creativity]. Tom Ball considered that much of the discussion was “nit picking” and what was needed was a reinstatement by the government of a National Building Agency. The Chairman brought the discussion to a close at this point saying that London could afford its own garden towns without further funding by making the most of underused assets to create new land values. This also neatly offered the opportunity for a discussion of... ITEM 2 Land Value Capture Introduced by Jonathan Bower of Womble Bond Dickinson. (SEE the last issue, Planning in London 106 JulySep 2018 pages 63-4 ‘LAND VALUE CAPTURE AND WHY IT MATTERS’ - Final report February 2017: Jonathan Bower and Sara Wex default/files/land_value_capture_report_transport_for_london.pdf ) JB explained that ‘Land value capture’ means a set of mechanisms used to monetise increases in land values that arise, for example in the catchment areas of transport projects. We refer to the area over which such land value effects occur as the ‘zone of influence. This is further amplified in the paper by Bower and Wex below: “This study suggests the key principles of such a charge should be that it: • Applies in defined zones of influence around new or significantly upgraded transport facilities (such as Tube stations) • Be based on regular transparent market-based measurement of the premium freely and willingly paid to landowners by new purchasers or renters of residential property for access to transport within such zones of influence: • Be proportionate to the measured premium paid for access to transport in each location


Planning in London

ABOVE: Hong Kong MTR (Mass Transit Railway) rail plus property model Source: MTR website • Be designed so that: - New purchasers and tenants can be given a free choice to opt in to paying the charge through their decision to locate within the zones of influence, and are given the opportunity to pay the same overall premium for access to transport with the charge that they would have been freely willing to pay without it. - Existing residents can be entirely exempted from paying the charge. The consultation paper should set out the overall objective of land value capture, describe the need for and the basic principles of the new charge and set out the advantages and disadvantages of various design options, as discussed in the main report.” JB said that CIL and s106 payments are made when the development takes place. He explained that Liz Peace proposed a replacement of CIL with a low level rate and mayoral CIL by groups of authorities. However the Brexit proposals mean there is no time in the present parliamentary timetable for the necessary legislation for at least two years. Also CIL is not mandated across the country and the interplay with affordable housing obligations is inconclusive. There is only one Land Assembly Zone. Kit Malthouse’s view of this is “Spot Nationalisation of Land” with the state being merely facilitator. There is a recommendation from an inquiry to speed up the CPO process. Homes England has a report recommending the speeding up of CPO to a period of one year from making to getting the powers and three years to realise – the focus being on transport nodes. The land owners should be entitled to full redevelop-

ment value. JB suggested that the threat of CPO may encourage negotiation by agreement. ES said that he thought this would benefit from collective expertise in a complex area. Michael Hebbert suggested that this was an area for nationalising the planning framework. The BPF by contrast suggests that the freeholder retains ownership. JB cited examples in Dartford, South Wales and Melton Mowbray where income is a later issue. ES stressed the importance of designation for land pooling or for CPO for infreastructure associated projects. Tim Wacher said that the market takes no account of planning decisions in assessing value (the so called “no scheme world”). ITEM 3 The London Plan and Implications for London of the new NPPF Brian Waters introduced Simon Ricketts of Town Legal for the third topic to update the Forum on the London Plan and Implications for London of the new NPPF – see: GLA papers on the Economy and Spatial Development Patterns and a report on London’s Economic Outlook previously circulated. Note: NPPF has been updated but it will not apply in London which will rely on the previous version. (The original 2012 NPPF remains in effect for planning applications submitted on or before 24 January 2019 and the draft London Plan will be examined against the 2012 NPPF). How this applies to the duty to co-operate with neighbouring authorities who are better advanced, we can only guess.

The GLA has been generating a large number of reports for the New London Plan. Reports for the evidence base are on: Core Documents, Examination Documents Submitted by the Panel, Topic Papers,Background Documents, Spatial Development Patterns & Population Projections, Design, Housing, Social Infrastructure, Economy, Heritage and Culture, Green Infrastructure, Sustainable Infrastructure, Transport, Viability, Government Documents & Legislation Any of these could be the basis for a discussion, but the best covered seem to be Economy and Spatial Development Patterns. Simon Ricketts referred to his recent blog at “Simonicity or Let a Million Homes Bloom” and the linked reference to the Oxford Cambridge development corridor: the Cambridge-Milton Keynes-Oxford arc. SR referred to the work of Jennifer Peters of the GLA team and her colleagues. He commented that any seasonal reference to planning is dubious since there is to be a general election in or by May 2020. So far the draft plan has led to 20,000 responses. As of last Friday (14.9.18) a Draft List of Matters has been prepared by the appointed Inspector Panel (Roisin Barrett, William Fieldhouse and David Smith). Planning Exchange has prepared a detailed response. It is far from clear whether the duty to cooperate problem is applicable or has been considered. The draft plan has deviations/derogations on affordable housing on small sites and vacant buildings. The stresses and strains of Heathrow are causing concerns. Brokenshire has said that he remains unconvinced that the housing need is ambitious enough and is particularly interested in residential gardens. There is doubt that parking standards policies are proven. Complexities of the plan and collaboration with Boroughs are further concerns.

ABOVE: CaMKoX arc May one million houses bloom on the Varsity Line

On 13th August 600 pages of plan changes were put forward. Additional delivery tests for Boroughs are still open from the new NPPF. Peter Eversden commented that some of the recent changes had significant ramifications, and some clarifications may assist the EIP. There was some discussion about objectively assessed need for new dwellings. Brokenshire is asking for 72,000, the Mayor is proposing 65,000. ES said that only 25,000 are actually being built and queried whether the higher numbers were even achievable. Also the GLA is asking for 65 per cent to be affordable. All of this suggests an early review of the plan before it is even agreed and adopted. It was suggested that floorspace standards rather than room sizes would be a more realistic

measure for the new units. Jonathan Manns commented on the tenure targets and density gap between recognizing and supporting them. NF added that planning should be energizing to encourage creative responses but in fact it has got worse. It is important to make strategic choices which are realistic. FINALLY... The Minutes of the meeting on Monday 4th June at London Councils were confirmed AND the Next Meeting will be on 11th December 2018 at Rockwell Property, 23 King Street St James SW1 with Jonathan Manns as host. n

Next meeting of the London Planning & Development Forum l at Rockwell Property, 23 King Street St James SW1 hosted by Jonathan Manns l Tuesday 11th December 2018 at 2.30pm l Discussion topics: see >LP&DF Visitors are welcome. Please notify the Hon Secretary Drummond Robson at

Issue 107 October-December 2018



Kiosk chaos Andy Rogers finds that the quality of adverts is not strained comparing telephone kiosks without adverts to (spoiler alert!) a pound of flesh without blood…. Nowadays public call boxes - often modern open kiosks rather than boxes - generally include advertisements. They have permitted development rights under class A, part 16, schedule 2 of the General Permitted Development (England) Order 2015. But the Planning Inspectorate has blamed the current major delays to appeals on having to deal with at least a thousand current appeals against multiple refusals by local planning authorities across the country on the grounds that the licensed electronic communications code operators that erect telephone kiosks are in fact exploiting the pd planning rules to install advertising space. Prior approval of permitted development can be rejected on design, appearance and location grounds, thus resulting in multiple appeals that are clogging up the Inspectorate.


Planning in London

In January the Local Government Association urged Whitehall to remove the pd right that enables companies to install telephone boxes without further planning permission. Transport for London’s first ‘Walking Action Plan’ describes telephone kiosks as a “source of clutter that obstructs footway and are often unsightly due to fly posters, graffiti and vandalism”. TfL has also said it intends to lobby the government to have pd rights for telephone kiosks removed. The issue has been subject to several court cases and appeals over recent years. A High Court judgment of December 2010 ruled that the existence of advertising material on a telephone kiosk is not a material consideration in deciding whether prior approval should or should not be given. This is further complicated by the fact that a local authority has the

The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys. — Sir William Preece, chief engineer, British Post Office, 1878 right to prevent the display of advertisements by serving a discontinuance notice. In July this year the High Court rejected an operator’s appeal against the Planning Inspectorate’s decision to uphold Hammersmith and Fulham’s ruling that a number of telephone kiosk applications (and therefore the subsequent appeals) were invalid,

because the telecommunications applicant had failed to give proper notice to the owners or tenants of the land. The company had maintained that making a planning application to the borough, as owner of the land, was sufficient to act as notice. [The judge went on to rule that the company was entitled to a return of the application fees, which had been refused by

the borough, because they held the applications to be invalid.] But numerous appeals, presumably with proper notifications, remain with PINS and are still clogging up the appeals system. One appeal that was determined in May concerned the proposed change of use of an iconic telephone box outside the Victoria and Albert Museum

to a retail kiosk dispensing soft drinks and refreshments to the public. The appeal was rejected because of damage to the Grade II listed structure (telephone box), the setting of the Grade I listed building (Museum) and the Queensgate Conservation Area. And decommissioned K6 phone boxes are available to buy for installation in private gardens or have a >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018



variety of other uses, including libraries, art galleries and even defibrillators. Indeed, not all telephone boxes actually have working telephones - for example the 1989 sculpture in Kingston on Thames, by David Mach entitled 'Out of Order’. It needs a bit of renovation - the holes aren’t original, and it was apparently meant to have a telephone in the almost upright box at the end. But it doesn’t contain any adverts… Advertisements when included are of widely varying quality - from the

notorious calling cards for sexual services in Soho boxes, through fly-posting, to ubiquitous company images. The examples demonstrate not only a benefit to the public when modern kiosks are erected - these days often with access to free calls, WIFI and ATMs but also that older boxes are very often in poor condition or downright derelict - and should, perhaps, be removed. And as for bus shelter advertising congested, appropriate in a conservation area, or what? n

Historical note Telephone call boxes were first proposed in 1920. The K1 model was made of concrete and subject to local variations, including at least one thatched roof. To improve and standardise boxes, a competition was organised by the RFAC in 1924 to find a design that that would be acceptable to the London Metropolitan boroughs, which had resisted the Post Office’s efforts to erect K1 kiosks on their streets. The K2 designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott won, but was found to be too large and rather expensive. It was cast iron (Scott had suggested mild steel) and included a domed roof based on Soane’s mausoleums in St Pancras’ Old Churchyard


Planning in London

and Dulwich Picture Gallery. In 1935 the smaller K6 was designed to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of King George V and became the standard metal red telephone box that can be seen across the country. The K2 and K6 can be seen side by side in St John’s Wood High Street. However, the red colour was not universally liked (Scott preferred silver, with “greeny-blue” interior), especially in rural areas, so a less strident grey with red glazing bars was accepted - although many of these have subsequently been repainted red. Indeed, telephone boxes in Kingston upon Hull were (and still remain) a delicate cream colour,

while other areas have boxes that remain grey and there are of course black City of Westminster telephone boxes, for example in Piccadilly. In 1968 the telephone box was updated as K8 to a simple modern glass and aluminium design, replaced in 1982 by the ubiquitous and almost completely transparent KX100; while around 2,000 historic boxes were given listed status. Today the designs vary widely depending on the company that is providing the telephone/WIFI/cashpoint/advertisement, but it has been estimated that 11,000 traditional red telephone boxes remain in public service.

23 October 2018 10.30- 20.45

London Build, Olympia, London

ACA CPD Day, AGM and Soapbox Join us for a full day of CPD with leading architects 14.45 Legal issues with architects’ industry speakers at our London Build appointments Colin Jones, Managing event. Partner, Hewitson’s CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY 15.15 Q&A/panel moderated by Alfred 10.30am welcome + intro to the ACA by Munkenbeck, ACA Brian Waters, President 15.45 TEA BREAK/networking 10.40 Whatever happened to Egan’s Moderated by Darya Bahram, ACA ‘Rethinking Construction’? Graham Watts CIC Chief Executive Secretary General 11.15 The new world of collaborative 16.00 RISK 1: PI insurance: current and Alliance contracts Professor David concerns following Grenfell and Mosey, Kings College London Carillion Alan Eyre, Chairman, Towergate 11.45 ACA’s response to the Hackitt PI 16.20 RISK 2: Employment Law: current Report on Grenfell Brian Waters, ACA concerns Max Winthrop, Partner, Short 12.15 Q&A/panel moderated by Dr John De los Angeles past president ACA Richardson & Forth 12.45 BREAK/LUNCH/NETWORKING 16.40 The status of the profession Nabila Zulifqar, Chair ARB FOR THE PROFESSIONS 17.00 The role of Technologists in moderated by Alfred Munkenbeck, ACA architectural practices Eddie Weir, CIAT Council 17.20 Q&A/panel moderated by Darya 13.45 The business of architecture Bahram, ACA Secretary General and design practice Robert Peake, past 17.40 NETWORKING, cash bar president Australian Association of Consultant Architects, M4D CPD Certificates available on request 18.00 ACA AGM 14.15 What’s the right fee for the job? Time for a new fee scale? Alfred Munkenbeck, Munkenbeck & partners, FREE TO ATTEND: Register at

BOOKING FORM Name: Job Title Organisation Address



Please return to: Membership is now free! Join us at:

18.45 SOAPBOX DEBATE: Motion: “Architects can restore Hackitt’s ‘Golden Thread’ Moderator: Alfred Munkenbeck, Munkenbeck & partners, architects Speakers for the motion: Jane Duncan, Past President RIBA Darya Bahram, ACA Secretary General Speakers against the motion: Geoff Wilkinson, Approved Inspector, Wilkinson Construction Consultants Nick Sterling, Alliance Steering Group


City making: many hands, over time Terry Farrell calls for a more creative and collaborative endeavour. Key players need to adapt and evolve

In this article I want to examine the extraordinary collective phenomena of human habitat - villages, towns, cities and the metropolis (I would extend this to include the habitat of human-made landscape, as all of the UK, even our national parks, are manifestations of such habitats). In spite of all the complexity, they work because of dynamic interactions that we cannot fully conceptualise or understand. These complexities, the very networks underpinning it all – even the most sophisticated computers we have can’t yet grasp the awesome intricacies of the city. They are a wonder of the results of the creativity of our species. I have no doubt that the city is humankind’s greatest creative achievement, far greater than achievements in science or any of the arts including architecture. What we see with the benefit of today’s bird’s eye views – photographs from the air via planes, drones and satellites on say Google Earth, it reveals a simply spectacular collection of forms. I am awestruck and full of wonder at what is collectively achieved. But, there arises the question: How did we do all this? What processes made these elements, this overall phenomena?

National Park City: we need to improve the accessibility and integration of our green and wild spaces so that they can be used to their full potential for education, recreation, healthy living and food production, as well as to ensure the protection of natural habitats.

Sir Terry Farrell CBE is chairman of Farrells


Planning in London

Many Hands, Over Time The most astonishing emerging response is that they are not made by a Mozart or Picasso, or even a grand Churchillian political figure or a despot like Stalin. Far from it, they were made by very many disparate hands and, what’s more, they were made and layered by generations, often over centuries or even millennia. It is significant that this evolutionary, additive nature is so fundamentally a part of England’s character, and, in that, the towns and cities here have much to lead the world in. From the law of

the land derived from custom to precedent rather than statutes. To language itself, with its happy air of casualness and lack of rigidity, there is, in the inherent make-up of the English that which relies on informality and “happy” accident. “One of the fundamental virtues of English is that it is a fluid and democratic language in which meanings shift and change in response to the pressures of common usage…. It is a natural process.” (Bill Bryson, Mother Tongue). And so it extends to landscaping and city making. Being an island, the landscape itself is highly varied with no extremes leading to the design and layout of landscapes and towns, unlike our continental neighbours, the French and Italians, with their severe geometric and formal gardens and their over reliance on order and top down regulations. Instead, our designs are laid out seemingly deliberately without any definite plan. In short, like our laws, like our language and so much else, our cities and landscapes seem to have been much more the result of a reliance on evolution, and reflects how cities are laid out worldwide, growing and changing as the result of many hands layered, over time. The many hands involve all the people inhabiting our urban areas, not just the designers or the builders like bricklayers and plumbers, but the ordinary people that live there. Their needs and their actions are writ large upon their houses, streets, shops and schools and gardens. It includes the old and young, the clever and the ordinary, the powerful and the disenfranchised alike. Architects, planners and “designers” have only done and still do such a small percentage of the physical design of the details and general layout of our buildings. Design does not prevail, except in a subliminal self-ordering way achieved by many hands over time. “It is scarcely surprising that, since the major preoccupation of urban planners is with the design of cities, they have generally attempted to analyse city forms in terms of the effects of their efforts. That is to say, theories of urban planning have tended to focus on cities in whose form the guiding hand of human design is clearly discernible. The trouble is, hardly any cities are like this. In spite of the efforts of planners to impose a simplistic order, most large cities present an apparently disordered, irregular scatter of developed space… mixed haphazardly. By focusing on regions where planning has created some regularity… urban theorists have often ignored that fact that overall, a city grows organically, not through the dictates of planners.” So much is driven by an accumulation guided by instinct or habits unknown or hidden that follow patterns of collective behaviour. The DNA of place and habitat of humans is organised, laid-out and improved with neighbourhoods surrounding the civic, the edges growing and emerging over time – layered as it grows and changes and emerges from managed landscape and agricultural land through all stages of villages, towns and cities.

The stupendous rate of urban population growth means that the future success of cities is not by any means certain

These habitats were made over time by distant to present generations and made by self-ordering systems, a super organism “collected properties that are more sophisticated in its basic parts, this phenomena known as emergence is what happens when simple units interact in the right ways and something larger arises. “

Christopher Alexander also took up the idea of emergent forms of life: in his four-volume The Nature of Order (2003–4) he produced an overarching theory of a pattern of organisation from nature to city planning and architecture. Like many other books on the subject written in this period, his work is arguably too

Self-Ordering and Emergence The notion of emergence – which Michael Weinstock describes in his book The Architecture of Emergence as requiring ‘the recognition of all the forms of the world not as singular and fixed bodies, but as complex energy and material systems that have a lifespan, exist as part of the environment of other active systems, and as one iteration of an endless series that proceeds by evolutionary development’ – has only recently started to become recognised in city making. Weinstock goes on to state that ‘causality is dynamic, comprised of multi-scaled patterns of self-organisation …To study form is to study change.’ This is as true of urbanism as it is of any other field. Self-organisation as a subject for study and written texts has been predictably non-linear. It has roots in many crossover disciplines, including the economics of Adam Smith in the late 18th century, as well as the sociology of Friedrich Engels and the biology of Charles Darwin in the mid-19th century. These began to be unified with the mathematical powers of the computer led by Alan Turing and others in the mid-20th century. A recurring theme is the search for patterns in micro-behaviour that evolves, shifts and emerges as macro-behaviour. Darwin was a typical ‘searcher’ in this field of complexity, in that he immersed himself in his habitats and spent a lifetime observing like a detective – looking for patterns and orders. It is unsurprising that the new mathematics of Turing’s computer age returned to look at biology again, but with new eyes, new tools. Biomathematics emerged and remains at the forefront; but the lessons for all areas, including the city, soon became evident. The field of mycology led to ants, bees and on to human behaviour, our habitats and our interactions with them. It was only then that the city became a selected subject for the study of emergence. Jane Jacobs is often credited with being the first (in any field) to use the term ‘organised complexity’ when, in The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), she began the first rethink in the modern era of city planning. As she argued: ‘In parts of cities which are working well in some respects and badly in others … we cannot even analyse the virtues and faults … without going at them as problems of organised complexity.’ In his 2001 book Emergence, Steven Johnson observed: “Traditional cities … are rarely built with any aim at all: they just happen. … organic cities … are more an imprint of collective behaviour than the work of master planners. They are the sum of thousands of local interactions: clustering, sharing, crowding, trading – all disparate activities that coalesce into the totality of urban living.”

deterministic, undermined by a need to find new orthodoxies, new absolutes, a new order rather than the simpler acceptance of finding the order that is already there. Nevertheless, his astute observations of simple urban artefacts are a good way to begin. These already appeared in his earlier article ‘A City Is Not A Tree’ (1966), in which he describes a scene featuring a newsstand that is dependent on the adjacent set of traffic lights for its supply of customers: ‘the newsrack, the newspapers on it, the money going from people’s pockets to the dime slot, the people who stop at the light and read the papers, the electric impulses which make the traffic lights change and the sidewalk which the people stand on, form a system – they all work together.’ Can the

ABOVE: Bologna, Italy (top) & Fulham, London (bottom): Organic nature of evolutionary growth of European cities. Whilst Bologna’s beauty is more self-evident, London’s incremental Victorian streets and houses, built over time by developer builders are equally spectacular en masse. >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018



architect/planner rearrange or reinvent these physical things to make a more relevant order? Or does design follow, not lead? Jane Jacobs reserves her most withering observation of architectural vanity for Le Corbusier and his misplaced new ordering: “Le Corbusier’s dream city was like a wonderful mechanical toy, but as to how the city works, it tells … nothing but lies. … There is a quality even meaner than outright ugliness or disorder and this is the dishonest mask of the pretended order, achieved by ignoring or suppressing the real order that is struggling to exist and to be served.”

Evolution and City Making The overriding conceptual idea for my view of city making is that “Nothing in science and the humanities makes sense except in the light of evolution.” The concluding passage of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (1859) addresses this point brilliantly, in the power and imagination of his words: “It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. … THERE IS A GRANDEUR IN THIS VIEW OF LIFE… FROM SO SIMPLE A BEGINNING ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUITIFUL AND MOST WONDERFUL HAVE BEEN, AND ARE BEING EVOLVED.”

RIGHT: Woodlands (bottom) and Tree (top), Farrell, 2010: The self-ordering collective of a woodland: Edge trees grow lopsidedly, central trees grow tall reaching for the light, but with spindly lower branches. A rich flora exists below which varies according to its position in the woodland. This is horticulture close to urbiculture. Trees in their isolated state on grassland. This is how signature architects and their clients prefer to see their work and the city. Stand alone, but with no connectedness or rich undergrowth.


Planning in London

The parallel is in urban culture: separate grand architectural statements alone do not make for rich urbanism. (By the fifth edition, published in 1869, Darwin had truncated ‘entangled bank’ to the more widely quoted wording ‘tangled bank’). Well over a century later, in 1995, Daniel Dennett described Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection as ‘the single best idea anyone has ever had’ and Peter Watson commented in 2000 that: “..various fields of inquiry … are now coming together powerfully, convincingly, to tell one story about the natural world. This story, this one story … includes the evolution of the universe, of the earth itself, its continents and oceans, the origins of life, the peopling of the globe, and the development of different races, with their differing civilisations. Underlying this story, and giving it a framework, is the process of evolution.” It is befitting then, for the purpose of this article, to highlight that perhaps the most fascinating aspects of Darwin and his successors’ work is not relating to ‘life’ itself, but those regarding ‘habitat’ and the interactions between the two. The same forces have created habitat for us humans, and it is because of this that our built environment can be seen to display not visual disorder but something of the ‘grandeur’ and ‘forms most beautiful and most wonderful’ of Darwin’s tangled bank. It is now some 10,000 years since we evolved from huntergatherers to agriculturalists, and we have ever continued to accelerate our development from passive dependency on nature to being its masters and controllers, for good or ill. The profound revelations of the natural sciences over the last 250 years have been played out at the same time as our species completed the latest and most radical stage of evolution: the urban revolution.

LEFT: The Road to Renewal, Farrell, 2013: New places from post-industrial backlands once again provides the neighbourhood high streets.

scale of interaction in a city is on a par with the human brain. Of course, it would be very hard to know if a city were conscious. How could it tell us? How could we ask it?” And….. “Instead of the brain as a city. If you were to look out over a city and ask “where is the economy located?” you’d see there’s no good answer to the question. Instead, the economy emerges from the interaction of all the elements – from the stores and the banks to the merchants and the customers.”

No species is guaranteed survival – far from it. With our brains, we clever, adaptable humans may, however, just as readily be building our own demise as our continued success.

LEFT: Cross section sketch of a termite mound, Farrell, 2013: The natural, selforganised community of the termite – which is thought to have been around, adapting and forming, for some 30 million years. The ingenuity, cleverness and engineering design that contribute to this phenomenon, which is nevertheless created by a collection of brains working by instinct, is extraordinary. The mounds themselves can be viewed as huge stomachs, acting as a sort of compost heap and fungus garden to feed the resident insects.

The Brain and Towards the Smart City There is an emerging bridge between our increased understanding of the architecture of the brain and the smart city. The architecture of the world of computing with all its increasing powers can match up to and increasingly deal with the dynamic complexities of the city which itself is directly the result of the community brain power of its human inhabitants. “In this age of digital hyperlinking, it’s more important than ever to understand the links between humans. Human brains are fundamentally wired to interact: we’re a splendidly social species. Although our social drives can sometimes be manipulated, they also sit squarely at the centre of the human success story. You might assume that you end at the border of your skin, but there’s a sense in which there’s no way to mark the end of you and the beginning of all those around you. Your neurons and those of everyone on the planet interplay in a giant, shifting super-organism. What we demarcate as you is simply a network in a larger network. If we want a bright future for our species, we’ll want to continue to research how human brains interact – the dangers as well as the opportunities. Because there’s no avoiding the truth etched into the wiring of our brains: we need each other.” This is all paralleled in the splendour of the city, which has matched, step-by-step, in perfect co-evolution with the human brain. “This leads to a fundamental question: can a mind emerge from anything with lots of interacting parts? For example could a city be conscious? After all, a city is built on the interaction between elements. Think of all the signals moving through a city: telephone wires, fibre optic lines, sewers carrying waste, every handshake between humans, every traffic light, and so on. The

Planning a City in the Digital Age The planning, organisation and governance of our towns and cities are being rapidly transformed by the ever-increasing ability to use big data to capture, analyse and forecast. “The technologies of our modern era allow us to store unimaginable amounts of data and run gargantuan simulations.” At last we are beginning to be capable of solving the apparently unsolvable, to predict and plan for the city in all its dynamic complexity and diversity. Pattern searching is a powerful way for digital technology to unravel the complexities of the city, and it is the same with the brain; “At first the foreign electrical signals are unintelligible, but the neural networks eventually extract patterns in incoming data. Although the input signals are crude. The brain finds a way to make sense of them. It hunts for patterns, cross-referencing with other senses.” As for the brain so it is with the city. Working with nature, guiding and steering and understanding what exists at the moment is the first step in planning the future city. The aim is to understand the city as a natural phenomenon in its self-ordering complexity. Stephen Marshall, Reader in Urban Morphology and Planning at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, draws a parallel between the role of the urban planner and that of a gardener tending, say, a beanstalk. The bean can grow well on its own, but with the added support of a cane it will prosper even better – a happier beanstalk results in a happier gardener. This analogy emphasises that the role is ultimately one of stewardship, supporting and cultivating natural tendencies to the benefit of both nature and the human community. A memorably clear depiction, and one that is a world apart from the view of the architect and planner as essentially the visualiser and even inventor of the form of the future city, directing and controlling the vision for what the city ought to be. However, nature is not as self-sufficient in the partnership as this analogy implies. It would not be accurate to suggest that, once given a supporting cane, the beanstalk could then be left to its own devices. After all, the length of cane, its position and its strength, the spacing between plants, their orientation, the soil condition and the microclimate are all part of an environment designed by the human mind. This kind of complex planning and

Issue 107 October-December 2018




arrangement is a fuller development of the metaphor for town planning that can be taken further: to establish a microclimate you might perhaps need a walled garden as a place for growing, and this might be accompanied by the rotation of crops elsewhere, and the introduction of trees to provide shade and shelter. You might also construct greenhouses, using a building type that benefits from the discovery of how to harness the sun’s rays and using the technology of glass to grow within a transparent enclosure. And this bean habitat is most likely related to the transport and trading of the canes which are no doubt imported. So here is the hand of planning, the hand of design, manifested in a much larger way than would at first be implied by Marshall’s insightful analogy. Human culture, human thought and complex community building with all its social interrelationships are ultimately expressed in the city itself, a phenomenon which can only be seen here on planet Earth as a result of the collective human brain. The role of “gargantuan” data collection is understanding t e existing city and how it has evolved to this point. Then it is all about working with this understanding as a basis for projecting and simulating potential futures for the city and places within it.

Smart City; Study Areas We have undertaken studies, particularly in London, to advocate ways forward in particular areas of current pubic concern. These ideas and concepts would benefit from further smart city thinking. I reflect on some of them here in order to help identify their further understanding and development.


Planning in London

A fundamental part of city making is the efficiencies of movement and placemaking: The huge rise of motorised transport gave rise to many planning proposals like Abercrombie’s various plans for Hull, Plymouth and London just as World War 2 was ending. These and similar proposals for the next 30 years demonstrated two preoccupations. The first was a total focus solely on accommodating this huge rise of motorised transport to the exclusion of existing places (Abercrombie planned a limited access motorway for central London that would have completely and totally obliterated the existing and vibrant urban centres, for example, at Camden Town, Primrose Hill and Maida Vale). And, secondly, it had no regard for the whole place; London would have been left permanently fractured to accommodate motorway growth. The main characteristic of such proposals was that they were all based on guesswork. Faced with the innate and vast complexity of cities (long before computers were involved in city making), they measured the only measurable, zeroing in on car movement to the exclusion of all else. As a result of public protest – inspired by people like Jane Jacobs, who was similarly opposing to the urban highways proposed by Robert Moses in New York – these plans were abandoned even though the protests themselves were based only on counter-guesswork. Wind forward to today and we have existing places hugely compromised by pedestrian underpasses, pavement railings, and one-way systems and gyratories, all being re-thought to restore placemaking priorities. But we also have new smart systems that will change movement and related placemaking in ways that

ABOVE: Abercrombie Plan for London (1943): An eight lane limited access highway, a proposal demolishing all existing urban centres in its path and fracturing London irrevocably. Early modern planning, faced with the inner complexities of city making, solved one ‘measurable’ problem at the expense of all else. (Image © City of London)

ABOVE: Farrells vision for Old Oak Common: Cross section of the transport interchange at Old Oak Common which will link HS2 connectivity from the north to the Great Western and West Coast Main Lines, Crossrail, West and North London Lines, Bakerloo and Central Underground lines, Heathrow Express, A40 and North Circular Road. Farrells study for the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham concluded that there is clear potential for a new place in London with the ‘super hub’ interchange becoming a powerful economic driver for growth and regeneration.

LEFT: Low-level bridges: Just as 1950’s plans solved only one aspect of the city at the expense of all else, the present day thinking on London’s easterly expansion is severely compromised because we convince ourselves that the river and docks are still full of very large ships.


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>>> Abercrombie could never have hoped to imagine. Driverless cars, dedicated cycle lanes and hire bikes galore, smart motorways and pedestrian crossings that adjust to demand, and congestion charging are all the beginnings of available products / solutions that will transform both city movement and city places, all due to the power of digital thinking, and it’s just the beginning. Today’s siloed-thinking when faced with city complexity still goes on – for now. Extra runways and airport capacity have been tackled almost solely from the air travel/air business perspective, and railway operational (and funding / procurement silos) have left projects such as HS2 / Crossrail new station city making at Old Oak Common all the poorer. The efficiency of planning and designing our future cities will be severely limited unless we think more holistically and for example use the gargantuan powers of computers and digital thinking to balance and enable better and more joined-up decision making. We must determinedly model options that combine economic and political opportunities whilst also backing investment in practical ones like sequencing of operational and development integration. The liveability of our future cities will be similarly constrained too. There is general agreement that growth in London is preferred to go in an eastward direction – and indeed, if you look east from the top of Canary Wharf tower you see vast areas of empty, unused land, primarily where docks and industry were located. But Abercrombie’s era thinking is alive and well here 70 years or so afterwards! Though the docks are now empty the River Thames is still seen as a Grand Canyon divide imagined to be full of river traffic. We must reprioritise our thinking in favour of urban bridges like those in central and west London, to enable buses, taxis, pedestrians and cyclists to be able to locally and spontaneously cross the river. We need this to then urbanise and grow London eastward by over 1 million people (we are hoping to add a population the size of Birmingham to this part of London). Data gathering, measuring and simulation are a key way forward, as well as simultaneously abandoning fossilised, siloed and special-interest thinking. Fundamentally vital liveability is at stake. The river and historic docks could be, once again, a pleasurable place to be. Once, a little over one hundred years ago, before the estuary was industrialised,

ABOVE: High-Density mid-rise residential: Silo-thinking about daylight and sunlight limit our holistic city making such that our conservation areas couldn’t be built at all today. Nor indeed could we repeat Notting Hill, Marylebone, Islington and Dulwich, or most of the centre of Paris. Our current rules are focused solely on merely one aspect of comfort at the expense of health, well-being and common sense in new housing provision


Planning in London

there were nine piers, zoos and public gardens along the river used for pleasure boats, and vast numbers of Londoners holidayed in the estuary. Landscape regeneration is the first infrastructure to be invested in to make the east of London have the same liveability as west London and the “Thames Valley” beyond. This landscape link to liveability has today been developed into a considered proposal for London itself as a “National Park City”. Led by Daniel Raven-Ellison there is now the beginning of a log of open spaces, trees, parks and rivers (along with the GLA’s Green Grid work) that underpins the advocacy for connectedness with all the health benefits of liveability. Pollution and life expectancy, general wellbeing and addressing the existing daylight and sunshine rules all need to be connected up and mind-sets changed. One of the important revelations of “London: National Park City” work is that, if done properly, it aids to the richness of ecology and nature provision through development and increased density, if done properly, aids the richness of ecology and nature provision. The myth of density equalling concreting over cities is exposed by measuring say the habitats that go with back gardens that are themselves a result of roads, houses and garden walls. Our work on mid-rise high density housing, for example, if extrapolated across London, can meet theoretical growth in population numbers quite easily – London is only half the density of Paris or Greater New York. So we need tools to compare cities objectively, to understand global city making and what works, what is healthier and what isn’t, and what could add ecological richness with more trees and accessible landscaped public places. All of this efficiency and liveability will undoubtedly help make for better sustainability. Smart city ideas are many and diverse but have yet to be integrated and connected or indeed advocated. The work of Simon Sturgis on embedded energy involves measuring true comparisons of building new versus adapting existing. This work needs to be more widely projected to include roads, bridges and all that makes up the infrastructure of what makes a city work. Coping with rising sea levels, greater rainfall and drainage cannot be done in isolation. The real power of computerisation is not just about coping with complexity, it is also about explanation and advocacy, invariably via visual means, to enable much more widespread apprecia-


ABOVE: Global City Making: urban growth projections show that urbanisation combined with the overall growth of the world’s population could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050, with close to 90% of the increase concentrated in Asia and Africa, according to a 2014 UN report.

tion of what the city is and what options and decision making underpin what it could be. Part of our Farrell Review for government proposed ‘urban rooms’, some physical and some virtual, to be set up to familiarise and engage with inhabitants to understand the past, and reveal more fully any future proposals affecting their neighbourhood, village, town or city.

Conclusion The growth of cities internationally is a phenomenon of our time. Indeed, urbanisation is accelerating at such an extraordinary rate that in the 21st century one of the main activities of humankind is city making. Not only are existing populations moving to cities, but the cities are increasing in population due to increased child birth and life expectancy. The urban population is already equal to the pre-WW2 total population and is expected to double in this century. London was the largest city in the world in 1900 and is still in the top league; but, by the end of this century, it will not be in the top 100. Yet London is projected to grow to almost double what it was in 1970 by the end of this century! The views in this paper are coloured, maybe somewhat optimistically, by the many, many successful urban habitats. I do, however, absolutely acknowledge there are problem parts of cities, and problem cities. The stupendous rate of urban population growth means that the future success of cities is not by any means certain. What is growing are slums. Slums, the home to migrating poor and the new poor, constitute one third of urban territory worldwide on average, and this statistic hides the fact that in some cities it is even higher. In Mumbai, for example, two thirds of the population are esti-

mated to be slum dwellers. There are also the effects of war which are intrinsically seen more and more in urban centres, partly for symbolic reasons but also because that is where the collective culture dwells and where the soldiers and civilian populations invariably are. Cities are becoming the frontline battleground, unlike the open countryside warfare in the days of Waterloo. From Hiroshima, the London Blitz and the mass bombing of German towns in WW2, today Raqqa, Bagdad and Kabul are all cities subject to so much wartime destruction. The increase in global weather events additionally means that there will be immense inter-relationships affecting the urbanisation of the planet. Sustainability, economic and political reactions will surely affect all of this with potentially more slums and more conflict. However, my more optimistic view of cities is based on the astonishing progress of the last 50 years, particularly when comparing London then and now. When considering war-torn cities globally after WW2 so many have not just recovered but have improved well beyond that: St Petersburg, Berlin. Hamburg, Manchester and so many more have gone from almost total destruction to astonishing splendour in their physical presence as well as their cultural and economic wellbeing. Like many others, I have maybe inadvertently been a student of cities in my worldwide travels: New York, Philadelphia, Hong Kong, Sydney. Again the list goes on and on, with towns and cities that are celebrations of our species in their urban habitats. With better understanding of urban habitats, the vast changes of the 21st Century will not just be even better for new digital technologies but they will be critically essential to cope with the growth and complex changes that the future holds. n >>>

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Proposals: In 2013 I was asked to lead a review (The Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment) by the government. Many of its proposals are increasingly valid five years on. The strongest of these is to do with concentrating on the widest, most democratic, involvement of “many hands” and the deeper and wider understanding that place making and all the combined benefits of the city (including architecture and design which have a secondary role) derive from city making and “over time”, indeed over long, deep time.

Children’s Education • Teach the built environment across all subjects in schools •Develop online resources for teachers in schools

Outreach & Skills • Every town and city should have an urban room that is physical and/or virtual which is a place where the history of “PLACE” and future changes are widened to the most extensive and inclusive audience • All should “champion the civic”


Planning in London

Professional Education • A common foundation year for all built environment students Planning for the Future • Make the planning system more proactive • We should continue to expand “PLACE Reviews” and every pubic body should have a “Place Review Panel” Making the Ordinary Better • Place as “client” – continue to strengthen the role of public realm, particularly our streets and roads.

• Industry leaders to connect with / adopt everyday places Heritage versus Progress – it’s not either/or • Listed building process to be more open, transparent and democratic • Value sustainability as part of our heritage Global Cities • Promote “Place” here and overseas as a major ambition to meet and compare the growth of cities in this century • Support and promote and widen criteria in international heritage organisations


Releasing space for affordable employment David Edwards shows how an integrated, creative approach can transform gaps in the urban fabric

David Edwards is director at Place-Make Ltd, architects and urban planners


Planning in London

A few years ago, we were looking for a new office that the practice could grow into. A young company, we (reluctantly) accepted that the dream studio would be unlikely for our budget. However, in London’s melting pot of space and activity, we were still optimistic of finding somewhere with light and security that would be close to shops, similar businesses and transport links. From a base that was then in Muswell Hill, North London (N10), the search began locally and quickly widened through the travel zones until it became apparent that either our budget or expectations needed review. During this time, two further things became apparent. Firstly, that ours was not a unique experience and in order to remain local, many SME’s and independents were operating from a network of home offices, short term lets, co-working spaces and pop-ups. Through this, the area has been able to retain a diverse mix of activities and a unique character. However, it is a delicate model and unless a sustainable solution is found then a once thriving artisan community is in danger of becoming predominantly residential with the usual retail offering. Worryingly, this seems to be happening across the Capital as affordable commercial space is squeezed by escalating property demand and business rates coupled with the pressure to deliver more homes. Among those most affected are SMEs, creative industries and independents, which, like us, are decentralising in

search for suitable offices, studios, kitchens and workshops. With the emergence of Brownfield Registers and the release of more previously developed land for housing, the situation will worsen with significant implications for the appearance, character and mix of existing commercial hubs. The second realisation during our office search was the amount of ‘left over’ space that is located around busy shopping streets and local centres, supermarkets and showrooms across London – an abundance of blank façades, redundant garages, closed passageways and disconnected pocket sites next to prime real estate. Often constrained, such spaces are generally unsuitable for residential occupancy. However, being close to other businesses and transport connections, they provide a wealth of opportunities to deliver much needed affordable commercial space of varying size, character and purpose. Returning to Muswell Hill, this was explored in greater detail – with very interesting results. Behind the main thoroughfare of the Broadway is a network of lanes and passageways that were planned to allow a rear service access to the shops. Unable to accommodate large vehicles, servicing is now from the Broadway outside of trading hours and without any activity or passive surveillance, the passageways have been closed while the wider spaces are reinforced with security lights, grills and cameras to deter crime. After the study was published in a local newspaper, it was particularly interesting to note how many

residents were, like me, previously unaware of these spaces – despite passing them on a daily basis. A high level Vision Strategy was prepared by Place-Make to consider how the lanes could be reconnected to unlock a variety of development opportunities and provide new streets and squares in an already built-up area. The Vision Strategy was presented to the local authority and stakeholder groups for review and overall, the response was very encouraging. The local authority is currently reviewing the feasibility of two sites in greater detail and Place-Make has been invited by business groups in neighbouring Crouch End to see if the same principles may be applied here. After further exploration, similar conditions to those behind the Broadway are apparent around local centres across London,

particularly those that were planned in the early 20th Century; Golders Green, Palmers Green, Finchley, Hendon and Edgware. This is in contrast to the centres of older settlements where the city has grown around these to maximise all available space. Here, such spaces have become significant attractions and destinations; Islington Passage, Flask Walk (Hampstead), Pond Street (Highgate), Turpin Lane (Greenwich) in addition to St. Christopher’s Place (off Oxford Street) and the popular mixeduse mews that traverse Camden, Soho, Mayfair and Fitzrovia. Perhaps the most expansive example of urban renewal as a driver for creative industries in the UK is The Lanes in Brighton, which is now home to over 400 independent businesses including boutique retailers, cafes, artist studios and offices for SMEs. The Lanes has since established itself as such a popular shopping, tourism, entertainment and cultural hub that plans are underway to extend the concept into adjoining areas. The Ropewalks in Liverpool and Nottingham’s Lace Market follow similar models. These examples show how a little catalyst investment, strong leadership and an integrated, creative approach can transform gaps in the urban fabric into much needed accommodation for employment generating activities and exciting additions to the public real. If successful, the model can be adjusted for different conditions and activities - from live-work units and affordable homes to tourism and hospitality. Ultimately, in towns and cities across the UK where space is at a premium and expansion potential is limited, the scale of opportunity that is presented by left over space can no longer remain ignored. n

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Health in planning assessments Michael Chang, Liz Green and Jenny Dunwoody offer tools for realising the next generation of healthy new communities

RIGHT: Michael Chang MRTPI HonMFPH is Project and Policy Manager at the Town and Country Planning Association Liz Green FFPH, ACIEH is Principal Health Impact Assessment Development Officer at the Wales Health Impact Assessment Support Unit, Public Health Wales Jenny Dunwoody, MIEMA, CEnv is an Associate at Arup


Planning in London

The convergence of the planning and health systems culminating in their 70th anniversary milestones in 2018 with the publication of the draft new London Plan, provides timely opportunities to create healthy environments and promote population health and wellbeing, with many London boroughs willing to experiment and innovate. In the previous issue of Planning in London, Chang et al set out the “range of physical and mental health challenges the planning system, in collaboration with health professionals, can help tackle… It is a complex picture requiring joined up thinking and collaborative action”1. The conclusion of that article leads to the question of how can those involved in planning and development including partners in public health, NHS healthcare commissioners and providers can most effectively and systematically identify and address health and wellbeing impacts. What tools and levers are available? This article aims to help answer that question. The use of assessment tools such as Health Impact Assessments (HIA) can be effective. When undertaken properly following a robust methodology, HIAs can be directly effective in changing and influencing issues considered, and often can have immediate impact on the decision-making process. Even when HIAs are reported to have no direct effect on a decision they are often still effective in influencing decision-making processes and the stakeholders involved in them, however some research has found limitations for community involvement2. Nevertheless undertaking a HIA is one of the key actions for local areas to explore to best influence health outcomes in their area3. Though not a new concept, public health practitioners with their planning colleagues in councils are re-imaging planning assessment tools such as HIA to promote health and wellbeing and promote opportunities for health and mitigate adverse

impacts or unintended consequences of planning decisions. That is why TCPA research has found more councils are adopting the use of HIA policies in their local plans, accounting for 30 per cent English councils including 18 London boroughs4. They have produced guidance to assist applicants in meeting the policy requirements, such as in Islington and Richmond. Policy GG3 of the draft new London Plan proposes the use of practical assessment tools such as HIA to ensure creation of a healthy city. The draft policy says: To improve Londoners’ health and reduce health inequalities, those involved in planning and development must: D. Assess the potential impacts of development proposals on the health and wellbeing of communities, in order to mitigate any potential negative impacts and help reduce health inequalities, for example through the use of Health Impact Assessments. This London-wide requirement for an assessment of health and wellbeing impact is not new. The current London Plan Policy 3.2, despite using the less effective wording of considering these impacts, requires through the use of tools such as HIAs, and the Social Infrastructure Supplementary Planning Guidance (2015) provides guidance on using HIA as a decisionmaking tool. It is clear there is a move and increasing appetite for those working in the health profession to seriously harness the use of assessments such as HIA as the preferred approach in planning and development. In this article we set out the basis on which these tools can be used to help meet both strategic and local policy requirements around creating a healthy city, in particular to focus on standalone Health Impact Assessments but also adapting the use of existing assessments such as the Sustainability Appraisals and Environmental Impact Assessments, and how they can systematically and effectively address local health and wellbeing needs, including mental wellbeing impacts.

What are the assessments and how can health considerations be featured? Health and wellbeing issues can be integrated as part of assessments undertaken as part of plan-making and submitting a planning application for development. The following section also highlights the learning from authors’ involvement in various London-based projects. Health in Sustainability Appraisal The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations (the ‘SEA Regulations’) (2004) require that plans are assessed against environmental and sustainability objectives, many of which a relevant to health. In the past, strategic health assessment of policies has often been undertaken alongside SA/SEA. Recently there has a shift, both in London and nationally, towards the practice of integrated impact assess-

ment (IIA). This integrates health as part of one assessment which looks collectivity at various statutory and non-statutory requirements such as sustainability, equalities, community and health issues. This approach better reflects the wider determinants of health, which overlap with other aspects of environmental, social and equalities assessment frameworks. It embeds health in the process of policy and plan development. A stated aim of the draft New London Plan is to create ‘a more inclusive, greener and safer city that supports the health and wellbeing of all Londoners’, reflecting how health has risen up the agenda as a core aspect of planning policy. IIA is a key part of the plan making process, ensuring that issues such as inclusivity, connectivity, open space and green infrastructure are considered at every opportunity, and that all policies support the aim of reducing health inequalities. The intention of IIA is to support the development of plans for the earliest stage; in practice, however, it is often applied later, as an appraisal of draft plan options. As with HIA, the earlier the IIA process is started, the greater the opportunity to influence health and sustainability outcomes. It is an extremely wide ranging exercise which, when done well, has assisted councils’ decision making by highlighting synergies and conflicts between policy options, and allowing for the selection of policies that optimise outcomes and reflect the specific needs and priorities of the study area.

Health in Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) The Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 introduced ‘population and human health’ as a topic within EIA. There is no guidance on how this should be interpreted, and there has been considerable variation in the scope of health assessment in EIAs since the requirement was introduced. The Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) has made the case for health assessment in EIA to adopt the ‘wider determinants of health’ model and the World Health Organization (WHO) definition of health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. In its briefing for public health teams, Public Health England has identified opportunities for public health teams to engage in the EIA process (See Diagram B: Health considerations in EIA process6). Across London, the variability of health assessments undertaken as part of EIA highlights ambiguity in the interpretation of this requirement. A view adopted by some successful applicants has been that health is addressed within EIA topics such as noise, air quality, traffic and socio-economics. Sign-posting of these topics within the Environmental Statement directs the reader to the relevant information. This narrow approach falls short of providing a full assessment of the effects on population health and, importantly, health inequalities. Furthermore, opportunities to

improve health outcomes are not addressed beyond the mitigation of adverse impacts on, for example, noise or air quality. Many EIAs have adopted a more robust approach, including a full assessment of impacts on the wider determinants of health, and an analysis of likely effects on the mental and physical wellbeing of the population, including vulnerable groups. When done well, EIAs have helped influenced developments and improves outcomes, for example by improving access to green space and walkability, or incorporating measures to ensure the benefits reach those most in need within the community. This approach is similar in many respects to stand-alone HIAs previously conducted alongside EIA; so what has changed? The influence of the EIA model can be seen in health assessments of major projects: greater focus on the use of evidence and quantitative techniques provides increase rigour; however community engagement, a key aspect of good practice in HIA, is integrated within the wider EIA consultation processes, resulting in the loss of valuable local insight on health-specific issues. More can be done to address this, through greater involvement of health assessment practitioners in the planning and delivery of public consultation.

ABOVE: Diagram A: Opportunities for integrating health in planning assessments

Health Impact Assessment (HIA) The emergence of health assessment within EIA has changed the landscape of HIA, with fewer stand-alone HIAs being undertaken, mainly on smaller, non-EIA projects. These are mainly rapid HIAs, which adapt tools such as from the NHS London HUDU Healthy Urban Planning Checklist7 such as in Richmond and from WHIASU such as in Barking and Harrow. But there isn’t a consistent and commonly agreed upon HIA framework. In many areas instead of using the formal HIA tool, councils are creating local planning for health checklists. In London the use of HIA continued to be supported in the >>>

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>>> draft New London Plan with boroughs’ local plans setting thresholds for standalone HIA on non-EIA development projects, where they have such policies. The draft New London Plan also introduces a stronger focus on the wider determinants of health, focusing on issues such as healthy streets and active lifestyles. These changes will add weight to the recommendations in HIAs to improve the performance of developments and support positive health outcomes. In its guidance, the GLA’s Social Infrastructure SPG sets out an approach for deciding on the type of HIA that should be required when considering a new plan or proposal and its likely implications for health and social infrastructure (see Diagram C8). The WHIASU has published many supporting tools for planners including guidance for HIA (see references for further guidance9) and specific planning related documents, quality review criteria and case studies. To support Boroughs’ uptake of HIAs, two courses were held in March and May 2016 in London with a focus on integrating health and wellbeing into planning processes. WHIASU was commissioned to deliver the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health Wales (CIEH) endorsed Rapid HIA Competency Course. This was a 2 day interactive course at which participants learn the basic theory of HIA, why health and wellbeing and inequalities matter and gain a better understanding of the process via discussions and participatory exercises. They were then required to carry out and submit a rapid desktop HIA as an assignment and present their findings in a reflective presentation on day 2 to the examiners and fellow delegates. Those who met the criteria are awarded a Certificate of Competency by the CIEH/WHIASU. The course was tailored to the Boroughs needs and a key requirement of this course was that the Boroughs who regis-


Planning in London

tered on the course were actually booking 2 places – one for a public health officer and one for a planning or environmental health officer. The outcomes of the course were positive: 39 practitioners attended in total (one could not attend at the last minute) and of these 32 were awarded a Certificate of Competency in Rapid Desktop HIA; cross sector relationships were formed or strengthened over the 2 days and the 5 weeks between days 1 and 2; within the sessions the different perspectives and terminology were given space to be discussed and analysed but importantly discussions took place about how to better integrate health and wellbeing into planning processes in London and use the London Plan as a lever to do this.

Call for health action for those involved in planning and development As efforts intensify at the national level by agencies such as Public Health England and NHS England to prioritise the prevention of ill-health and promotion of wellbeing through the built environment across its workforce and associated professions, and at the London level through the Mayor’s draft new London Plan, practitioners need to re-imagine the purpose and application of assessments currently being undertaken as a matter of course. By explicitly embedding health considerations in Sustainability Appraisals, Environmental Impact Assessments and standalone Health Impact Assessments, there are tangible benefits not least resulting in better developments. Those involved in planning and development: 1 can support upskilling and capacity building of those assessing and undertaking the assessments and build greater awareness of good practice; 2 can strengthen their plans and projects by maximising

health gain and mitigating for many unintended consequences in delivery by considering health from the outset which ensures that it can have maximum influence and time to inform the decision making process; 3 should ensure approaches to assessments advocated has a clear focus on health and wellbeing and is broad (i.e. considers physical and mental health and wellbeing, inequalities and the wider determinants of health - not only environmental health determinants or health protection); 4 should appraise both positive impact and opportunities as much as detrimental impact and unintended consequences, 5 underpin the assessments by fitting into consultation processes seamlessly and a rapid workshop based approach will harness community and stakeholder knowledge to complement the gathered technical (and other evidence base) in a time efficient and resource effective way, and 6 measure the success of a health assessment – either of a policy of project – ultimately by its influence on people’s health outcomes. n

ABOVE: Diagram C: When to use different types of HIA

FOOTNOTES 1 Chang, M. et al., ‘Planning the next generation of healthy new communities’, Issue 106 July-September 2018 2 Chadderton C. et al., ‘Health impact assessment in the UK planning system: the possibilities and limits of community engagement’, Health Promot Int. 2013 Dec;28(4):533-43 3 Ross, A. and Chang, M., 2012, Reuniting Health with Planning – Healthier Homes, Healthier Communities 4 Provisional TCPA research on English local plans policy review to be published. 5 Health in Environmental Impact Assessment - A Primer for a Proportionate Approach. IEMA, 2017 6 PHE, 2017, Health and Environmental Impact Assessment: A Briefing for Public Health Teams in England 7 Healthy Urban Planning Checklist, NHS London Healthy Urban Development Unit, Second Edition, June 2015 8 GLA, Social Infrastructure SPG, 2015 9 WHIASU HIA Resources, hps://

Issue 107 October-December 2018



A more radical design criterion for Green Belt release

Why not give the land a special category that values a view and preserves protected viewing corridors in perpetuity argues Guy Middleton The pressure to release the green belt is at an all time high and it feels almost like as the pressure rises there will be a release in green belt land for no other reason than new homes must be built. Whether or not you believe the green belt should be released, assume that tomorrow your favourite piece of green belt was released for house building. Is there an opportunity to rethink the design of new homes to ensure the green belt release is a positive benefit not a blight on the existing homes and community that adjoin the green belt.

Guy Middleton is Chartered Surveyor and Environmental Engineer and runs SW1Survyors in London and H4 Group in China. He is also a Town Councillor in Edenbridge, Sevenoaks Kent (93 per cent green belt)

A view is not protected in planning law The majority of green belt land provides some stunning uninterrupted views. Probably one of the most common objections to planning applications is the loss of a person’s view, which in planning law has no standing. Any development of an existing single dwelling in the green belt, must prove no harm to the openness of the green belt. Openness is undefined and unquantifiable in area or volumetric terms. Yet when the release of green belt is being considered for larger projects, once the ‘exceptional circumstances’ have been

proven, there is no due consideration to the openness of the land that once was, Green belt. So perhaps we should consider this transition more carefully. Green belt land, open or with woods and hedgerow, once provided unique and long views of the countryside. Why should those credentials be lost overnight just because planning law does not recognise the right to a view. If such a right existed on all urban land then you can imagine the battles and conflicts with permitted development. But if the green belt land is released having proven special circumstances then why not give the land a special category that values a view and preserves protected viewing corridors in perpetuity. If those views could be enjoyed by the new residents, they too would learn to appreciate, preserve and protect the view and the remainder of the green belt. Thus helping allay the fear of continual urban sprawl. I believe there are ways to design ‘a long range view from each dwelling’ into a scheme and that many designers would relish the chance, if developers can be persuaded to look at what homes might need in the future, not what simply sold last week. That design led approach might produce a more sympathetic solution, >>>

Issue 107 October-December 2018



>>> such the new development will become a place where open views can still be enjoyed and the sense of unique, peaceful and tranquil setting, blends into the green belt. Would this ease the resistance to the release of the green belt. Planning for the future might just need one consideration from the planning lawyers. A right to a view from each new dwelling and no permitted development rights passing with the transition of the green belt to ‘diluted green belt’. So whilst the lawyers amongst you consider the fees, here are a few openers on the design opportunities.

OPPOSITE and BELOW: Modular house types by Ilke Homes

One way to blend into the green belt and provide far reaching views for each dwelling: Hardscape and our relationship with the car A typical housing scheme will comprise of acres of tarmac, pavements and driveways, assuming ( probably correctly today but possibly not in 5 years’ time) that every houseowner must have immediate access to a car ( or two). One of the key features of Centreparcs, is the insistence that cars are left in the car park, and the beauty of the forest is enjoyed or bicycle or on foot. Before you all groan at the thought of leaving your beloved car at the gateway to a housing development, just think about it for a while. The car is an essential part of rural commuting. The school run, the trip to the shops or the dash down the motorway, but what if that last mile meant a simple transfer to an electric vehicle, dotted around the site to /from shared ownership to/ from the central car park to/from your home? Your car remains

in a central car park, safe and secure and only a small pathway for ‘golf buggies’ to ferry residents to/from home. No cars parked in the drive, in the roads ( no roads) and safe areas for children to cycle and play. If that one design principle could be adopted by housebuilders, acres of tarmac would be redundant and design opportunities open up. The Centreparcs idea has worked since its conception. The DVLA suggest the number of applicants for driving licences is falling for the first time in many years. As Uber, city car clubs, rent-a-bike etc take off, is our relationship with the car about to change and if so can we rethink the need for a garage and driveway immediately next to the home? Cars parked at the entrance to the site, leave green space unfettered by parked cars on driveways. Building height / density The need to release the green belt, which was there to protect urban sprawl, presents the conundrum how to design with the minimal impact or scar on the land that was, before consent was granted, open fields. Some believe ‘village life’ works because of the close buildings, close community, high density design. Others have a view the plot sizes should be larger and the dwellings should stay limited to single storey. The biggest influence is the land value and the price is determined by what the developer can squeeze in. But if this is set and controlled before the site in the green belt is released then the land values will adjust and homebuilders will bid accordingly. Remember the windfall is usually going to a landowner and the land had little value before the consent is granted, so it just represents less of a windfall, not a loss and a project that becomes unviable. Increasing the density offers quieter pedestrianised access with far reaching views at the rear of each dwelling. Softscape Six foot high panelled fences are the developers ‘quick fix’ for the demarcation of the territory we know as the back garden. Is there any point moving to what used to be the green belt, to a home that then stares at a 6ft high fence. Privacy maybe an issue but can clever design can provide privacy , without carving the land into tiny gardens. The communal garden, can be a benefit to those who enjoy the open space without the hassle of mowing the lawn each week. The result could lead to open views from each dwelling that characteristic that the green belt was seeking to preserve. Bungalows A persons housing need changes with time. From the first time buyers apartment, family home and then the inevitable downsizing, bungalows still serve a purpose, but because the inefficient


Planning in London

(less profitable) use of land, bungalows rarely appear on the masterplan. Garage space vs storage space. It is not unreasonable to expect a family of four to need 4 cars at some time in the family’s development. Building four garages would seem excessive, but whatever garage space is built some of that space is used for storage (bicycles, garden furniture, garden tools etc). The hobby room/workshop or storage facility would seem logical in the basement (expensive) or if pitched roofs must be included in a housing scheme, then the loft space should be clear and practical. Otherwise the volume of the pitched roof, is just reducing the openness of the green belt by adding one storey of architectural ‘aesthetic’ for no reason that to let rain run off a building. I once stayed in a Swiss Chalet, with a series of communal underground nuclear bunkers, all of which were used to store cycles and skis. Warm, dry and well ventilated, far better than a shed! Reduced infrastructure gives rise to vast expanses of green feathering into the surrounding countryside The Home office The government recognise the desire for people to work from home. Less commuting, more productivity. But the interaction with other team members is stifled and perhaps the home office or ‘on site business lounge’ will be an added design feature to encourage the community spirit and allow homeowners to work from home ‘on site’ in designated building. I am seeking to establish if the release of green belt would be more acceptable if a more radical design criterion were applied. The house builders will tell you the values would not make sense and I believe that is a weak argument. If the design is right, the money spent the standard designs for urban dwellings, could be diverted to create better spaces for affordable and non-affordable homes. Just a few suggestions but I am keen to hear more. • A right to a view in ‘Diluted green belt ’ land and no permitted development rights therefore restriction addon extensions and preserving long views and the diluted openness. • Central parking and ‘last mile’ shared transport for deliveries and car loading/ unloading – reduction in roadways and hardscaping • Open garden designs including neat purpose built communal allotments for shared enjoyment • Some single storey buildings that give the ownership and privacy of a bungalow and but designed without pitched roofs and sheds • Re-think the garage, workshop, storage space and home office requirements to balance communal/ central facilities with home owners on site requirements. • Avoid cookie cut design and where green belt is released, create a land category that has stricter design criteria for the proposed scheme and any future development like a conservation area. n

3.1 PPG2 states that the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open”, PPG2 (2001). The five purposes of including land in the Green Belt listed are: • to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas • to prevent neighbouring towns from merging into one another; • to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; • to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; • to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land 3.2 PPG2 also recognises the positive role that land identified in the Green Belt has in fulfilling the following land use objectives: • to provide opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population; • to provide opportunities for outdoor recreation near urban areas; • to retain attractive landscapes, and enhance landscapes, near to where people live; • to improve damaged and derelict land around towns; • to secure nature conservation interest; and • to retain land in agricultural, forestry and related uses.

Issue 107 October-December 2018



A progressive scheme for elderly living Will Wimshurst says that Somerville House is a new approach to socially led ‘independent living’

Will Wimshurst is cofounder of Wimshurst Pelleriti, an architectural practice that also develops its own buildings.


Planning in London

Somerville House is a new approach to socially led ‘independent living’ which has been given the green light after a two year wait for planning permission. In July 2018 The London Borough of Richmond upon Thames unanimously approved the Somerville House development designed by Wimshurst Pelleriti. The project will provide 24 one-bed units located on a suburban site of 1830 sqm in north Twickenham. In 2015 local housing association Richmond Housing Partnership (RHP) ran an architectural competition seeking a new concept on which to base the redevelopment of a number of their independent living sites with Somerville House nominated to be the first. The competition sought a new benchmark for Independent Living, based on the HAPPI standards, seeking to challenge traditional perceptions and raise the aspirations of socially led housing and for older people to demand higher quality, more sustainable homes. Somerville House was of prime importance owing to the need to upgrade the existing building which was mainly studio units and shared bathing. The only feature residents wanted to keep was the ‘Del-Boy’ styled electric blue and silver trimmed drinks bar complete with a line of well-stocked self-service optics.

Through the course of the concept development RHP’s Living Standard for Independent Living was refined and adapted. The aim at the outset was to create an aspirational scheme with residential units clustered around shared spaces and landscaping in order to create a feeling of wellbeing, community and to combat loneliness. This was developed through listening to and understanding the existing residents, scheme managers from this and other local schemes and RHPs leadership team, talking through their aspirations, as well as the issues with the existing building and their learning from previous projects. With the age of eligible tenants starting from the age of 55+, the building needs to cater for a significant age group with a wide disparity of requirements. This meant that the units all needed to allow for adaptability going beyond lifetime homes (now incorporated in the Building Regulations under M4(2)) and confronted the issue that only providing 10 per cent wheelchair accessible or adaptable units wouldn’t work, as in order to provide for independent ‘lifetime’ living, adaptability needed to be built in to each unit from the start. Perception of these units was also a key driver as often both the layout and equipment (grab rails, WC back rests etc) immediately indicate frailty and decline which subliminally hasten a

person’s decline and depression. This is shown in research and through buildings such as the Maggie’s Centres that clearly prove how one’s environment affects one’s feeling, mood, behaviours and overall life satisfaction.

The units are all planned to be dual aspect, specifically moving away from the institutional ‘corridor’ feeling many such housing projects have suffered from in the past, and also allowing for much more light and ventilation to penetrate the spaces. The key aim in this regard being to have a very positive affect on residents’ wellbeing and also to provide an overlooked front door and parking space for a mobility scooter, bike or tricycle. The architects also looked to redesign the concept of accessibility, working with David Bonnet Associates to ensure that every unit was dementia friendly and fully wheelchair accessible without needing to be oversized, meaning no resident will need to leave their flat as their needs change. In the same light all units are adaptable, meaning that no complex building works will be required in order for the units to cater for residents’ changing needs as they age. Maximising the areas of landscape and the use of timber was also a conscious decision with regards to wellbeing and sustainability. The natural warmth and calming nature of planting and timber have been shown to shape mood with studies such as that by the Joanneum-Institute in Graz that showed in a year long study of a timber school, that children’s stress levels reduced and heart rates showed significant falls while achievement and concentration significantly increased. The result is a scheme that focuses on creating a truly aspirational environment – different in every way to the many institutional feeling blocks built in previous generations. The timber clad three storey blocks are arranged around a ‘village street’ on each level, forming a ‘Living spine to the clusters of units with winter gardens and seating arranged to encourage residents to come out of their flats and be part of the community – with the aim of reducing the loneliness that is so often a feature of elderly life. The ‘street’ borders a landscaped garden to the centre of the plot and communal facilities arranged around the entrance specifically

Issue 107 October-December 2018




>>> designed to encourage a community feel without it feeling forced upon the residents. The planning application Despite the good intentions and high quality design of the scheme, gaining planning permission was not straight-forward – due both to delays within the local planning authority and also the complex process of establishing viability which required a certain density on the site that the planning authority were not initially comfortable with. Viability is often at the heart of difficulties in planning applications for housing the elderly. The net to gross ratio which developers typically look at is never as positive for such schemes as against a typical residential scheme. Schemes for the elderly require larger spaces generally, more


Planning in London

communal areas and often more expensive M&E, all of which add cost and reduce the efficiency of the schemes. Such schemes ideally require different treatment in planning terms to account for financial viability, so that they can work on sites compared with the the option of building a typical residential scheme. Changes in this regard are coming slowly through the planning system, and the GLA in particular is looking at how the process of differentiating older age living from typical residential schemes can be made easier, but it was this question that delayed the Somerville House scheme as the viability proved difficult to establish. The scheme was originally designed with two 2 bed flats creating a partial 4th storey, partly to provide a mix of accommodation on the site, and to cater for downsizers and those with live-

in carers, which in terms of viability allowed for the scheme to accommodate the communal and community spaces which are so important to the scheme. However, the 4th floor proved to be a sticking point in massing terms – so eventually other solutions to maintaining the density had to be found. In addition, the client RHP found from reviewing its other stock that letting a two-bed independent living unit would create far more voids than a onebed 2-person unit, which meant a wholesale review of the viability once the 4th floor was ruled out. The result of the review was to change the mix, amending the two-bed units to one-beds and to locate them elsewhere in the scheme, replacing some of the communal space with residential

accommodation. It was deemed that this was an acceptable compromise that still allowed the scheme to achieve its aim of delivering an aspirational environment, with few changes to most of the design, while gaining the support of the local authority. Once this was gained the updated scheme went to committee where it was unanimously approved, with Cllr Elengorn summing up the remarks at the planning committee stating that “I think it’s an excellent scheme; I think it is a fine piece of architecture if I may say so and I think we should wish them all the best and hope it goes well”. n

(See: Age-Friendly Housing reviewed in Books pages 70-71)

Issue 107 October-December 2018



Housing for older people needs a strategy It’s an exciting time for the sector, which continues to be shaped by the needs of our evergrowing population Anne-Marie Nicholson

Anne-Marie Nicholson is a senior partner at PRP and head of the later living team


Planning in London

The House of Commons Select Committee report entitled ‘Housing for Older People Needs Strategy’ was a positive indicator for the later living sector. It highlighted that development of housing with care for older people of all tenures is urgent, now more than ever before. It will have the most significant impact on peoples’ health and wellbeing, while reducing pressure on the NHS at a time when we’re living longer. It’s imperative that we empower people to be healthier and more independent in their later years, especially with the life expectancy rate increasing. PRP have over two decades experience of running an established ‘Later Living’ design team of some 40 architects, working exclusively in the older persons sector. We are the market leaders in the UK with a portfolio of completed projects from the past 20 years that extend beyond 200 and represent over 10,000 built dwellings or care beds for older people across the country. Our London experience stretches across 20 of the 32 London Boroughs, within which we have completed or have consent for 46 buildings representing some 2,100 dwellings or care beds for older people. Though much has changed over the last ten years, something that hasn’t is the variety of our projects. We have everything from 325-unit retirement villages to 30 bed care homes to design each year. Despite that one constant, it’s undeniable that the later living housing and care sector has changed almost unrecognisably over the last decade. The dominance of affordable housing schemes developed with lots of grant funding and secure, ongoing revenue funding has all but gone away. Though there’s no doubt that this era propelled the market forward and generated a greater understanding of what housing can provide for our older population, the models of 10 years ago are largely unviable now with only the most dedicated housing associations prepared to cross subsidise this form of housing. To create viable accommodation that caters for a variety of needs, designers of today's later living housing need to have an eye on three key factors: security and safety to support vulnerability; comfort and appeal via spatial features and services on offer; and transparency of transactions, particularly any initial costs and services charges. The rapidly increasing sales market is also changing the later living design approach. Selling to a last time buyer is tough, and so it should be. Kerb appeal, first impressions, lifestyle choices and aspirations all need to be considered, but we must not be fooled that this is all that matters. The devil really is in the detail, and this will only come from a specialist understanding and appreciation of the need to hide - not remove - some of the critical features that assist ageing minds and bodies. Homes for those over-55 have previously been located in quiet corners of the community or on the outskirts, but we’re

finally (and quite rightfully) seeing them integrated at the heart of new developments. A well-connected location is a key requirement for older people, but somewhere along the way a decision was made to place the housing further out based on the reasoning that older people prefer peace and quiet. One flaw in this plan was that it made it much harder for these residents to reach local facilities, and as a result the local economy failed to benefit from their community building abilities, eyes on the street and, increasingly, their disposable income. Another factor that should be a key consideration in design terms, is that people spend years building a community for themselves, and that this natural bond to one another and to a location is of great significance to an older person in particular. It’s not just the location that is important, though. Interiors are given much more priority now, especially because of developers needing to maintain a brand identity that distinguishes themselves from other providers. 10 years ago, we would have to wrestle the paint pallet from the well-meaning client to avoid the lurid colour choices in the residents’ rooms, but they are now seeking our interior design advice from the outset, which is just one example of how far we’ve come. Many schemes are also breaking the mould by breathing fresh air and new light into what were once previously dull and airless communal spaces. Once an indulgent luxury, balconies

are now a ‘must’ in new developments with designers working increasingly hard to offer the best use of communal space with the aim to impress, delight and provide relaxation to residents. Gardens should provide an opportunity for residents to interact and socialise, and be connected by attractive, walkways to provide an accessible and easy route. One of our most recent schemes in Lewisham, completed by the Later Living team, brings all of these aspects into play, with the end result being the creation of a new community designed to revolve around the need to care and protect older people living in the area. First built in 1963, the site was originally home to the Christopher Boone’s Almshouses and has been sympathetically designed to consolidate the existing almshouse accommodation, as well as make the best use of the location, in terms of access to the high street and public transport routes, but also in relation to a residential care/nursing home operated nearby. The building typology is closely aligned with the aspirations and recommendations of the HAPPI report Carefully arranged landscaped areas are at the heart of the development, with a circular, covered walkway that leads to a communal summer lounge, a terraced garden designed as a quieter space for residents, and a garden for those interested in horticulture and vegetable growing. 64 out of the 92 state-of-the-art homes are specifically for those aged over 57, with the building configured as a ‘U-shaped’ block that wraps around the beautifully landscaped courtyard creating an ideal environment for socialising and undertaking hobbies. The apartments are generous in size at 10-15 per cent larger than the minimum space standards, and all benefit from bay windows and large balconies. As an industry our approach to later living is much better, many now understand the complexity of creating accommodation with bespoke but subtle specification differences to meets

the needs of the individual user and therefore don’t just ‘dabble’ by creating standard homes with features that will not suit the older person residing there. This serves as proof of how far the later living sector has come in just a decade and is still changing beyond recognition. With developers who can provide the correct accommodation entering the field we are now at a time of looking at what technology can shape the future of our later living sector and though specific to later living, built in-home technology and off-site manufacturing seem to be leading the way. To continue as leaders in the later living sector and develop our designs with the ever-changing target audience, we encourage feedback from the end user and not just our clients (the developer or provider). A reoccurring theme we are tackling currently, is that while technology changes at such a rapid pace, our older generation’s understanding of it does not and that even the simplest of built-in home systems are quite confusing to use. To meet environmental requirements in new homes, these devices often come with a set of manuals explaining how they work in silo but don’t explain how they work together within the home. This is confusing and overwhelming, so we’re pleased to see an increase in retirement developers installing tablet-based technology. These systems are intuitive for the user and can be tailored to meet their individual care needs, as well as comprising smart home features such as heating control. These assistive technology devices support independent living while still providing contact with on-site staff, such as the concierge service so residents retain their independency. It’s an exciting time for the sector, which continues to be shaped by the needs of our ever-growing population. Designing with people in mind is at the heart of what we do at PRP, and our Later Living team is determined to create homes that provide older people with the lifestyle they’ve always had. n

PHOTOS: Christopher Boones Almshouses in Lewisham by PRP Architects

Issue 107 October-December 2018


Help Shape the Future of London ! !

If you want to help promote the debate on the capital’s future, join the London Society. As a member you get priority booking and discounted rates for our walks, talks, debates and lectures. You will see inside important buildings (some not generally open to the public) on our tours. There will be opportunities to attend social events held in some of London’s most interesting locations. And if you join now we'll send you a FREE copy of the London Society Journal (worth £7.50) and you can get a free ticket to hear Sir Terry Farrell give this year's Banister Fletcher lecture in November. To join – and get your free Journal – visit


A new London destination for the arts A new arts centre for London as big as the Southbank will bring culture to local people explains Miranda Williams

The Royal Borough of Greenwich’s ambitious plans to create a landmark destination for the arts in Woolwich's Royal Arsenal has moved a step closer. Planning permission was granted in August for the first phase of a sensitive multi-million pound transformation of historic military buildings, to create a 16,000 sq m heritage complex of inspiring venues for music and theatre, studios for dance, theatre, music and community use, visual arts space, with ample public access including an all-day cafe. Our borough has a rich historical and cultural heritage, including outstanding visitor attractions such as the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site and the O2 Arena, ensuring that we continue to be London’s most visited tourism and culture destination outside the city centre. Our ambition now is to use the heritage military buildings on the Arsenal to transform the economy of the east of the borough just as the heritage of the Navy has transformed Greenwich town centre and the west of the borough.

A landmark for Woolwich The Royal Arsenal is a landmark not only for Woolwich but for the borough as a whole. It symbolises the connection the borough has with the military, and the part that successive generations of local people have played in the armed forces, and in the science and industry that took place on the Arsenal itself. The Creative District will preserve and develop that heritage, in a way that the development of more luxury housing could not, by

building a new centre for the arts for London and most importantly for the residents of our borough. Our discussions with prospective tenants have involved ensuring local benefits are hardwired into the leases in the form of jobs, training opportunities and outreach into schools.

Military provenance Developing a narrative that binds the military provenance of the Royal Arsenal site with its industrial and social heritage is essential as the site once contained 80,000 workers many of whom will have descendants still living in the borough. This military, industrial and social context will provide a rich stimulus for the creative sector and its story will be told on the fabric of the buildings. Our plans The Woolwich Creative District comprises five buildings: Building 17 (The Cartridge Factory), 18 (Royal Laboratory Offices), 19 (Gun Carriage Shop), 40 (Royal Military Academy) and 41 (The Ammunition Factory), totalling some 16,000 square metres of usable space, and held by the Council on 300 year leases. An international design team, led by Bennetts Associates, has worked together on the detailed plans since 2016. These buildings benefiting from extensive natural light and excellent acoustics for unamplified sound will be available for creative, social, community and cultural use by organisations from within Woolwich and >>>

Councillor Miranda Williams is cabinet member for culture, leisure and the third sector, The Royal

Borough of Greenwich

Issue 107 October-December 2018



>>> across London. Work on the Creative District is planned across two phases. The first featuring temporary theatres and repair work to three of the historic buildings, to accommodate a temporary tenant who will use the spaces for immersive theatrical performances, and permanent works to the two remaining buildings. A further phase will complete the long-term upgrade for a permanent performing arts tenant. During Phase 1 there will be: • A versatile venue in Building 41, seating 800 – 1200 or 1800 standing capacity, linking directly to an open air courtyard capable of holding formal events for up to 500 people (or many more informally); • Three professional studios in Building 41 (two of which can be joined to make one very large studio); • Two community studios in Building 41; • Three professional / education studios in Building 40; • Two reception spaces specifically set aside for commercial use (overlooking the River Thames and the internal courtyard); and • Generous public spaces and a café / bar. A key development has been the discovery that the south range venue in Building 41 has high-quality acoustics for classical and non-amplified music, and will be in significant demand for rehearsal, recording and performance by professional and community users. It has all the qualities of a very good hall as well as an ambience that will bring performers and audiences together in a unique way. The capital cost of Phase 1 will be £31 million and is fully funded by the Council. Rather than make the buildings bespoke to various tenants, we have adopted the policy of adaptive reuse PREVIOUS PAGE: Aerial view of Woolwich Creative District RIGHT: Artist’s impression of foyer to new theatre complex NEXT PAGE: Artist’s impression of milling space between main performance hall and courtyard


Planning in London

- making the buildings suitable for a wide range of future purposes. Phase 2, which is as yet unfunded, consists of a black box performance venue (in Building 17), capable of accommodating a wide range of activities, including amplified rock and pop events, for 400 seated and 800 standing (with acoustic separation). In addition, there will be additional working spaces and at least four large studios for rehearsals by theatre, dance and music companies.

A centre for the arts The development will deliver a major cultural scheme that will attract visitors to Woolwich and support the expansion and diversification of the tourism industry. It assists in developing a ‘cultural quarter’ within Woolwich, accommodating an exciting new arts and cultural facility and contribute towards the area’s regeneration. The repurposing of the buildings also adds to the evening economy and increases economic benefits such as employment opportunities, including full-time, part-time and temporary staff. Our business plan is built upon the rental of rehearsal and event space with 70 per cent hired out to cultural organisations and local community groups at subsidised levels, reserving 30 per cent for commercial activity. The development will also deliver a number of benefits to the local community, not only through job creation but also through educational programmes, skills training and community outreach. Restoring glory Set within the Royal Arsenal Conservation Area the sensitive restoration will bring the existing listed buildings that are cur-

rently empty, or under-used, back to life in a simple and appropriate way. We have had positive consultations with English Heritage who wish to see the buildings revitalised and that the large sweeping spaces (particularly in the southern range of Building 41) are kept open as originally designed. Our proposals will enhance the Conservation Area and contribute to its removal from the ‘Heritage at Risk’ register too.

A catalyst for regeneration The Woolwich Creative District will lead the transformation of Woolwich, acting as a catalyst for regeneration and support its economic and social development, attracting new visitors to the town and enhancing the lives of local residents. Our vision extends beyond the usual model and seeks to build a creative hub that breaks down the traditional barriers between what is seen as that traditional model for cultural activities and mainstream ‘mass culture’. A key objective is to ensure that the area delivers economic and social value to the local area. We aim to do this by involving the surrounding communities through proven outreach programmes delivered by globally acclaimed figures from the worlds of dance, music and theatre. The draft lease agreements have sought to hardwire these community benefits by inserting key performance indicators for prospective cultural tenants so, for example, they deliver programmes in school and in the community as well as offering job opportunities for local people. We want Woolwich to be a seminal example of the positive local impact that cultural and creative regeneration can have by providing a globally significant cultural offer, yet one designed sensitively for all sections of the local community, with opportunities for personal fulfilment and career opportunities. Woolwich Creative District will bring back into mainstream use a series of historic buildings, but it is actually about deepening the physical and emotional connection between the Royal Arsenal and Woolwich Town Centre by providing active public space as well as jobs and cultural opportunities for all. The new creative district will complement and enhance the renewal of Woolwich Town Centre, which is a key element of the

Royal Borough’s strategy for growth, helping to transform prospects for long-term economic prosperity and improve life opportunities for local residents. Some 40,000 new homes are scheduled to be built across the borough as a whole between 2010 and 2028 and 28,000 jobs are predicted to be created in the borough over the next 10 years. Heritage and culture are a crucial part of the foundations on which the borough’s future prosperity is being built. The arts and culture sector generate substantial numbers of high paid jobs in the capital and creative workers in London are 25 per cent more productive than the economic average earning £8.8m per hour. While housing and transport have understandably been at the forefront of infrastructure planning, the Mayor of London believes that there is now a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make the Thames Estuary a global hub for the next wave of growth in digital, cultural and creative industries. Woolwich and the surrounding districts of Plumstead, Abbey Wood and Thamesmead are well placed to benefit from this. As Richard Morrison, chief music critic of The Times, who visited the Woolwich Creative District site said “This magnificent new London arts venue in Woolwich should be applauded… I’ve just looked round the site of a new arts centre for London that is as big as the Southbank, that has already appointed a resident orchestra, that will offer some of the most awe-inspiring rehearsal and performance spaces in the capital….. The buildings are already incredibly well suited to performances: huge uncluttered spaces resplendent with sturdy Victorian brickwork, enormous skylights and wrought ironwork reminiscent of Covent Garden’s Floral Hall. The building designated as the new concert hall, a former ammunition factory, also has stunning natural acoustics. Now it will be used to make music, not bullets….. Not that the prime purpose of this extraordinary project is to attract the usual punters from the West End and Southbank. The main goal is to set up cultural opportunities right on the doorstep of the people (and particularly the children) of Woolwich.” We are excited that high profile local, national and international cultural and creative companies are already in advanced negotiations to make the Woolwich Creative District their full-time home. We look forward to announcing them soon! n

Issue 107 October-December 2018



New insights into growing older Authors Julia Park and Jeremy Porteus introduce an important new book: AgeFriendly Housing.

LEFT: Convivial outdoor space at Pilgrim Gardens in Evington by PRP

Age-friendly Housing: Future design for older people Julia Park and Jeremy Porteus 176 pages; RIBA Publishing £40.00

Julia Park is Head of Housing Research at Levitt Bernstein. She has worked in the housing design industry for over 30 years. She is chair of the RIBA’s Expert Advisory Housing Group and a Mayor’s Design Advocate for London

Jeremy Porteus is Managing Director of the Housing Learning and Improvement Network (LIN), and vice-chair of the Housing and Ageing Alliance. He chaired the Homes and Communities Agency Vulnerable and Older People Advisory Group 2010-2016


Planning in London

Age-Friendly Housing: Future Design for Older People aims to shed new light on one of today’s most pressing, global debates how to live well as we live longer. Written by Julia Park and Jeremy Porteus, it builds on the influential, government-commissioned ‘HAPPI report’, (Housing our Ageing Population: Panel for Innovation) published in 2009. That too, was design focussed. Stunning examples of specialised housing for older people across Northern Europe woke us up to fact that good design is not just legitimate; it is a significant part of the solution. Almost a decade later, we now have home-grown exemplars that rival the best of those in Europe. As well as specialised housing options - including extra care, retirement living and developments that cater specifically for people living with dementia, Age-Friendly Housing features more bespoke, smaller scale solutions, including various forms of coliving and multigenerational housing. Closer to mainstream than to specialised; these less institutional alternatives are gaining traction; tempting us to move from choice rather than necessity, and making it possible to live with friends, not just with family or strangers. Notwithstanding its design focus, the publication is relevant to a wide audience. As well as offering practical advice and illustrated examples, it is reflective and forward-looking - touching on the success of almshouses, the psychological and physical effects of ageing, the importance of neighbourhood, the value of community hubs, the increasing role of technology and some of the ethical issues that raises. Many of these issues are explored by external contributors; eminent experts in diverse fields who, by sharing their insights and ideas, challenge us to think differently. We also touch on national and local policy, suggesting that all new housing and neighbourhoods should be ‘age-friendly’, and that this is not difficult or expensive to achieve. Recent government policy has prioritised the first-time buyer and paid scant attention to the last-time buyer. The planning system is also

behind the curve. There has been little attempt to keep pace with changing demographics, evolving lifestyles or the growing range of housing typologies and tenures. While it is selfevident that extra care housing fits somewhere between Planning Use Class C2, ‘Residential Institutions’ and C3, quaintly named ‘Dwelling Houses’ (which makes it subject to affordable housing contributions), the system has no in-between. This binary choice, which has a significant impact on viability, depends entirely on the preference of the local authority. Today’s older people are the baby boomers, typically more vocal and more social than their parents and grandparents, and neither shy nor retiring. Discerning and relatively wealthy, they are not keen to be labelled and certainly not happy to be told that ‘it’s bath-time’. The next generation is unlikely to come quietly either. Already accustomed to apartment living, to renting and sharing space, and to using technology, they will face similar physical and cognitive challenges, but may manage them differently. Design - of products, systems and the built environment - is always likely to play a leading role in our lives, but while products and systems tend to be replaced fairly regularly, we rightly expect buildings to last much longer. Despite enormous progress over the last ten years our collective failure to plan for our longer lives means that this long overdue debate is still in its infancy. The next time you think about housing for older people, instead of picturing your mother or grandmother, picture your future self. Julia Park is Head of Housing Research at Levitt Bernstein. She has worked in the housing design industry for over 30 years as a designer and researcher, and written numerous design guides, reports, articles and books. She is chair of the RIBA’s Expert Advisory Housing Group and a Mayor’s Design Advocate for London. n SEE review on the next page


Age-Friendly Housing: Future design for older people

Reviewed by Brian Waters

As Julia Park and Jeremy Porteus conclude, things have moved on in the ten years since the first HAPPI report and design has played a very significant role. Even so, they point out that, too few of us consciously think about how we want to lead our ever-lengthening lives. When we do, far fewer of us actually do something about it. As they say, there are many unanswered questions but the fact that the questions are being asked – by our politicians, our institutions, academics and housing professionals and all of us – is progress in itself. “And answers are beginning to emerge: new approaches to health and social care as well as housing, are likely to make the next decade even more interesting than the last.” This book is the latest word on housing for the older generation in the UK. It would have been impossible ten years ago for all but two of 15 illustrated case studies to have been fromUK. The authors say that if it was ever a worthy ambition to spend a whole life in one home, we now know better. The housing shortage and rising levels of under-occupancy have focused attention on the need to use existing housing stock more efficiently and to encourage a better fit between the home we find ourselves living in and the home we need. “While ‘Lifetime Homes’ may not, with hindsight, have been the ideal name, it’s underlying principles of accessibility and adaptability remain sound as long as we are open minded about moving as our circumstances change.“* Park and Porteus point out that inclusive design, accessible housing, ‘Lifetime Homes’ and age-friendly houses are all relatively new constructs, despite the fact that we have always grown old. The concept, and value, of age-friendly housing is now being recognised globally. This recognition is a cause for celebration, but while policy is starting to move in the right direction it has so far failed to provide coherent thinking on the inter-relationship

between housing, health and social care. Until this happens, progress will continue to rely on local authorities to identify and justify the need for housing for older and disabled people and on individual providers to choose to address that need. The authors point out that while mainstream housing is subject to planning policy standards and building regulations, it is more difficult to set rules for the growing range of specialised housing products now available. Similarly, the need to recognise housing for older people as a distinct use class has to be weighed against the importance of age-friendly housing becoming a mainstream concept, and the value of integrating older people into mixed age communities rather than 'ghetto-ising' them. These policy matters need urgent consideration and the insights and guidance contained in this book are therefore essential reading for practitioners, developers and regulators. n *This reviewer didn’t get a good response when, at a meeting in Savills’ boardroom, he quipped that Lifetime Homes was motivated by the wish to abolish estate agents.

BrIan Waters is an architect-planner and executive editor of Planning in London

ABOVE: Extra care homes at Heald Farm Court in St Helen’s by DK-Architects LEFT: Quiet courtyard at Hazelhurst Court in Lewisham by Levitt Bernstein All photos by Tim Crocker

Issue 107 October-December 2018


NEW BOOK - DUE FOR PUBLICATION OCTOBER 2018 The first book to explain in depth the revised NPPF & how it is likely to be interpreted in the courts. Essential reading for anyone with involved in local planning and development including planners, developers and their legal advisers About the Author Alistair Mills is a member of Landmark Chambers, one of the country's leading sets of planning barristers. He works for a range of clients in the planning field: private developers, objectors, central and local government.

READER OFFER Pre-order now & get the digital edition free - worth £40 when order separately after publication

He also maintains a digest of decisions relating to the NPPF on the Landmark Chambers website. 1st edition due for publication October 2018 Paperback, c200 pages £40 + £3.50 p&p 978-1-9164315-2-2

Read more & order at


Making Massive Small Change Making Massive Small Change: Building the Urban Society We Want by Kelvin Campbell (Chelsea Green Publishing), published last month Kelvin Campbell provides an antidote to the bigness that has become the standard fare for building our towns and cities. See Paul Finch’s review next page

Kelvin Campbell is visiting professor at the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at The Bartlett, UCL

This book is about how to harness the collective power of many small ideas and actions to make a big difference to the planning, design and development of our urban neighbourhoods: "Bigness has grown out of control - in our cities, and in our life-critical systems. But here’s the good news: small actions are the best way to cut bigness down to size - and this compendium contains a thousand different ways to start" – John Thackara, founder of Doors of Perception and author. Making Massive Small Change, is my latest compendium of ideas, tools and tactics to build the urban society. It comes at a time when the housing crisis - not only in London, but in most parts of the world – has reached new peaks. Something is wrong. Everywhere masterplans lie unfulfilled, housing is in crisis, the environment is under threat, and the urban poor have become poorer. All around we see the unintended consequences of governments’ well-intended actions. Our cities are straining under the pressure of rapid population growth, rising inequality, inadequate infrastructure—all coupled with our governments’ ineffectiveness in the face of these challenges and their failure to deliver on their continued promises to build a better urban society for all of us. Everything we see out there is the outcome of the system. We struggle to point to any new viable and decent urban neighbourhoods anywhere in the world that we have created in the last few generations. The system is not broken: it was built this way. Governments alone cannot solve these problems. But there is another way. This compendium, expressed through the lens of complexity thinking, shows a way: by changing thinking, practices and language to enable governments and people to work together to achieve the urban transformation that neither could achieve alone. We call it making Massive Small change. The theory underpinning the compendium provides an antidote to the bigness that has become the standard fare for building our towns and cities, no more so than in London where the big house-builder holds sway. It does this by showing how we can move back to the idea of the urban neighbourhood as a distributed system made through an infinite number of small efforts that add up to making a big picture. We express this as ‘making a million dabs on a canvas’ rather than making a few big splashes. Michael Mehaffy, a close collaborator with Christopher Alexander and an expert on the work of Jane Jacobs, provides an overview of the book: “Starting with a broad understanding of how urban change happens and needs to happen — less through top-down command-and-control methods, more through "massive small" interventions — [Campbell] guides us through a rich compendium of tools and strategies, from "grid as generator" to

block and street structures, building strategies, codes, standards and regulations, and an "emergent vernacular" generated by what he calls "platforms," "defaults" and "activators." His section on process tools (what he calls "activators") is particularly helpful -Asset-Based Community Development, Participatory Budgeting, and other crucial modifications of the malfunctioning "operating system for growth." The compendium is richly illustrated with case studies and simple takeaways, like his "Ten things to do" and "Ten things not to do". They are eminently sensible -- raising the question, why are they still done and not done? The answer might be that a book has not yet come along to give such a clear picture! He says the book is only a beginning, and we look forward to more of his insightful work in the future. Meanwhile, this delightful book deserves a spot on the bookshelf next to The Death and Life of Great American Cities, A Pattern Language, and other icons of fine-grained, process-based development.” This work his supported by a collective body of knowledge that comes from a wide range of sources: from the old urban theorists and contemporary thought leaders; from constructive activists to rational optimists; from self-help projects, nongovernmental organisations, creative commons, social innovation hubs, peer-to-peer workers, self-organised groups, bottom-up initiatives, and civic and sharing economy programmes. The list grows. My project is supported by the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 and University College London, is aimed at active citizens, civic leaders and urban professionals: anyone who wants to make a difference but may not know where to start. According to Ben Derbyshire, president of the RIBA, ‘The principles and approaches in Making Massive Small Change reflect how we can empower people to once again participate in shaping our communities whilst creating more successful places’ n


Issue 107 October-December 2018



Make no little plans Paul Finch reviews Kelvin Campbell’s Making Massive Small Change

First published in the AJ of 14th September 2018, with kind consent

Paul Finch is editorial director of the Architects’ Journal and joint publishing editor of Planning in London


Planning in London

One view about city planning was best expressed by Daniel Burnham: ‘Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir men's blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical diagram once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone be a living thing, asserting itself with evergrowing insistency.’ A rather different proposition comes from urbanist Kelvin Campbell: ‘For three generations, governments the world over have tried to order and control the evolution of cities through rigid, top-down action. They have failed dismally. Masterplans lie unfulfilled, housing is in crisis, the environment is under threat, and the urban poor have become poorer.’ Campbell publishes this week a manifesto about how to build ‘the urban society we want’. Entitled ‘Making Massive Small Change’ (Chelsea Green, £25 paperback), the impressive compendium lists ideas, tools and tactics which have been deployed in favour of bottom-up community approaches to regeneration and urban improvement, via multiple examples from around the world. Apart from anything else, the book is full of pithy quote which deserved repetition: ‘A budget is telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went’; ‘Simple rules give rise to complex and intelligent behaviour. Complex rules give rise to simple and stupid behaviour’. A useful reminder from Christopher Alexander sums up, at least in part, the spirit of the Campbell proposition: ‘By defining construction processes instead of fixed building designs, it is possible to plan for future growth without eliminating spontaneous growth and feedback.’ Shades of Jan Habraken. There are sideswipes at planning bureaucracies and health and safety regimes which stifle local initiatives and start-up activity. But while rejecting the idea that governments can by themselves create sustainable neighbourhoods – the building blocks for healthy cities – nor does Campbell suggest that government involvement unnecessary, quite the opposite. It is the nature of that involvement which is critical. This is just as well, since government of many types has been an integral part of the history of cities and city-making. Moreover, while ‘neighbourhoods’ are the building blocks of city life because they are where people live, there is certainly more to it than that. I have just visited the magnificent city of Hamburg, where vast areas are inaccessible to the public because they comprise thousands of hectares of docks and container ports – with very few people in evidence on the ground, or indeed water. Government (the book tends to use the word to describe both local and national versions) is also essential to the provision of infrastructure, which in developing cities frequently leads to objections from ‘neighbourhood’ representatives, or

simply people with big mouths, trying to stop things happen. A good example in London would be the antics of various luvvies in opposing the Thames Tideway Tunnel which, along with the Thames water ring main, are the greatest contributions to London sustainability and cleanliness since Bazalgette’s works in the 19th century. One might say the same about the people objecting to the route of Crossrail 2 because it will give people easier access to Chelsea. How very frightful! There were objections to Crossrail 1 also, but we all know that these routes are crucial to deal with a rapidly expanding population, kick-started as elsewhere by significant inward migration. It is a pity that housing has not been treated as a form of infrastructure, since if it had been we would not now be experiencing the dreadful shortages all too apparent. The Campbell proposition seems to be that ‘government’ cannot cope, but the evidence, at least in London, suggests otherwise. It was when local authorities and the broader GLC/GLA abandoned construction that all the trouble began, a very reversible policy. Sometimes a really big idea can consist of a series of smaller ideas – for example the London Underground network. The relationship of big to small and the impact of scale change is a sub-theme of ‘Making Massive Small Change’ all within the historical context of city evolution. Ideas have contexts too – the book’s cover refers to ‘the emerging science of complexity’; it has been emerging since the 1960s. n


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Issue 107102 October-December 2018 Issue July-September 2017

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w.l on







exp O R F o.c R E E om





construction & design show for London EVENT FEATURES


London Design ZONE

BIM & DIGITAL construction






Interior & fit-out

fire safety Z O N E