Monthly Archives: June 2011

The $100 Million Dollar ATM Receipt

Found in the Hamptons according to dealbreaker

It appears to be genuine and belongs to infamously rich Hedge Fund Manager David Tepper who apparently joked after the withdrawl that he hadn’t used an ATM since Lehman.

Dont worry he wont be out of pocket. He can afford to demolish a $50 million house because not every room has a sea view, and only earned $3.5 billion in 2009 after betting that the US government would not let banks fail. He cant be satisifed, hes only 258th richest man in the world according to Forbes.

Westminster Planning Dept Meltdown Scares Landowners

From Construction Enquirer.

Developers and property owners in Westminster have taken the extraordinary step of lobbying Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to raise planning fees

The move follows Westminster City Council’s decision to axe the jobs of 31 planning staff in September unless extra funds are found urgently.

Westminster Property Association chairman David Silverman, who wrote to Pickles last week, said: “We think the Government is dragging its heels because it thinks the introduction of planning fees is contrary to their agenda for growth.

“Please bring in fees ‘sooner rather than later’ is what our members are saying. A properly funded and excellent planning service is an absolutely essential part of an agenda for growth.”

He added: “Developers are happy for local authorities to be self-funded. That’s a major preference to the alternative. The cost of delay in applications on major schemes is immense.”

Earlier this year, the council’s director of planning Rosemarie MacQueen warned that the budget anticipated £1.3m of additional planning fee income in 2011/12, and a further £340k in 2012/13.

But without a decision on fees, the council estimates it will need to make 31 redundancies in the council’s planning department.

But councils are still waiting for outcome of the Government consultation on raising planning fees, which was due out in April.

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, leader of the Labour Group, said: “Westminster’s Planning Department is one of the best in London but now it is under serious risk of meltdown.

“The situation is now so dire that even Westminster’s Property Owners are lobbying to pay increased planning fees and are accusing the Conservative Government of ‘dragging its heels.”

Peter Rees slams proposed UCO changes – Would Harm Square Mile

With the consultation today ill post Peter Ress’s comments (the Chief Planning Officer of the City of London) from earlier this month from the BPF

The City of London’s international competitiveness and status as a world-class business environment is under threat from changes to planning laws that would permit converting office space into homes….

Speaking at an event⁾ organised by the British Property Federation (BPF), Peter Rees, city planning officer for the Corporation of London, will argue that the Square Mile and other leading business districts should be safeguarded, or could lose their ability to attract new firms and investment.

Rees will say: “While the Government’s ambition of supporting economic growth and increasing housing stocks is laudable, the Government’s consultation on relaxing planning laws for the conversion of office space to residential properties could have a detrimental impact not only on the City of London but on business districts throughout the UK.

“The cyclical nature of the property industry means that if developers were to turn offices into residential blocks when times were tough, the City’s ability to attract and house new firms when market conditions improved would be seriously diminished.

“Such changes to planning law could dilute the concentration of offices – particularly the kind of units favoured by SMEs – and the agglomeration of firms that make the Square Mile a world-class business environment that continues to attract firms of all sizes from around the world.”

Broke Town Abolishes Police Department

From Russia Today

Attention gun-toting Texas natives: if you were looking to go a’looting, your time is now!
City Council members in Alto, Texas, a town of around 1,200, have voted to abolish the city’s police department for at least six months as the community considers if they will be able to afford the force into 2012.

Shanghais New Regional Plan – 7 Satellite Cities

From China Daily

As the key goal in the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) for Shanghai, the city will focus on the urban planning of suburbs in seven new satellite cities and on developing links with neighboring cities in the Yangtze River Delta.

According to the plan, the seven new cities, including Lingang New City in Pudong New Area, Qingpu New City and Jinshan New City, will be developed to be the main industrial bases for advanced manufacturing, emerging industries and the modern services industry.

The plan also said that the high-density population in the urban area would be reduced by equipping the new cities with supporting facilities such as schools, hospitals and cultural centers to encourage more people to move out of the city center.

“The urban plan for new cities in the suburbs of Shanghai fits the city structure well by having resources divided reasonably to relieve the crowded city center by encouraging people to live in the suburbs,” said Li Tianhua, registered urban planner for the Shanghai Urban Planning and Design Research Institute.

The goal for the Songjiang New City, the biggest among the seven new cities, was to have as many as 1.1 million residents in an area of 120 sq km by 2020. Population targets have been set for six other new cities as well.

“We are trying to attract more residents with convenient transport networks, including high-speed railway and other rail transitions as well as better job opportunities after the launch of industrial bases,” said Hu.

Hu said the quality of life in the suburbs would be as good as that in the urban center, with a variety of public service resources, convenient transport and environmentally sensitive construction.

How to advertise when your refused consent

Reaction of a farmer in Yorkshire when refused consent to advertise next to the A1

Worlds Longest Bridge Opens, could Span the English Channel

See MSNBC China The Jiaozhou Bay bridge is 26.4 miles long.
 

 

National Planning Policy Framework Forensics#40 Design – Assessment

This section looks at those sections of the NPPG concerning design principles and there application to the assessment of cases.

Urban Design
PPS3 contains a section setting out the importance of urban design.

Although visual appearance and the architecture of individual buildings are clearly factors in achieving these objectives, securing high quality and inclusive design goes far beyond aesthetic considerations. Good design should:
– address the connections between people and places by considering the needs of people to access jobs and key services;
– be integrated into the existing urban form and the natural and built environments;
– be an integral part of the processes for ensuring successful, safe and inclusive villages, towns and cities;
– create an environment where everyone can access and benefit from the full range of opportunities available to members of society; and,
– consider the direct and indirect impacts on the natural environment.

This section was important and part of the Tibbalds principles, design control is not just about aestehitics of buildings but about the broader urban design of places. It needs to be retained in some form to ensure that the importance of urban design is not downgraded in the NPPF. I suggest a wording below.

Design Principles
Compared side by side.

NPPF PPS1
Policies in development plans and decisions on applications should aim to ensure that developments: Key objectives should include ensuring that developments:
are sustainable, durable and adaptable and make efficient and prudent use of resources; are sustainable, durable and adaptable (including taking account of natural hazards such as flooding) and make efficient and prudent use of resources;
ensure that a place will function well and add to the overall character and quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development; ensuring a place will function well and add to the overall character and quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development.
optimise the potential of the site to accommodate development, create and sustain an appropriate mix of uses (including incorporation of green and other public space as part of developments) and support local facilities and transport networks; optimise the potential of the site to accommodate development, create and sustain an appropriate mix of uses (including incorporation of green and other public space as part of developments) and support local facilities and transport networks;
create well-mixed and integrated developments which avoid segregation and have well-planned public spaces that bring people together and provide opportunities for physical activity and recreation.
respond to their local context; respond to their local context and create or reinforce local distinctiveness;
create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion; and create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder or fear of crime does not undermine quality of life or community cohesion;
are visually attractive as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping. are visually attractive as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping.
address the needs of all in society and are accessible, usable and easy to understand by them

This section is almost identical to the existing, however

  • The loss of reference to local distinctiveness is regretted.  If the minister does not want legoland housing it should stay.
  • Some points can be further edited down and duplication, including with the PPS1 urban design principles (which need to be retained in some form) avoided.
  • The regrettable distinction in PPS1 between ‘high’ quality design and ‘acceptable’ landscaping should be avoid.  In any event landscaping is something you do with a bulldozer, the reference should be to landscape design.
  • The loss of all reference to inclusive design and avoiding segregated spaces is highly regrettable.  The NPPF seems to have expunged all references to social inclusion.
Overall I would suggest the following wording, which wraps up urban design and design principles in one (& meet Prince Charle’s call for a top 10 list):

Decisions on applications should ensure that developments:

  1. Have visually attractive architecture – that is:-
  2. integrated with attractive landscape design of the spaces and public realm between buildings, creating a safe, inclusive and accessible environment for the whole community;
  3. creates as part of this, where reasonably appropriate, public and green spaces that people will want to use;
  4. optimise the potential of the site, supporting local facilities and sustainable transport;
  5. integrate with and connect to the existing settlement form, and  integrate with and take opportunities to enhance the natural environment;
  6. are sustainable, durable and adaptable and make efficient and prudent use of resources;
  7. function well and add to the overall character and quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development;
  8. vitalise the public realm, addressing, and not turn their back on streets, taking, where reasonably appropriate, opportunities for active street frontages and mix of appropriate uses;
  9. respond to their local context and create or reinforce local distinctiveness;
  10. are good neighbours, not causing unacceptable harm on issues such as overshadowing or overlooking.

Any local policies on design should be compatible with these principles.  Design and access statements should show, succinctly, how these principles are met, and how they have shaped the submitted design solution.

Design Control
NPPF PPS1 Comment
Local planning authorities should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiated requirements to conform to certain development forms or styles.  Local planning authorities should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation, originality or initiative through unsubstantiatedrequirements to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however, proper toseek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness particularly where this is supported byclear plan policies or supplementary planning documents on design. ‘Forms or’ should be deleted.  Otherwise both current and proposed new policy could be interpreted as outlawing form based zoning, one of the main innovations globally in planning in the last 20 years.Ministers have given speeches on how neighbourhood planning can be used to shape the form of areas.  It also chimes with the governments keenness to give lesser importance to land use in comparison with design.The phrase ‘It is, however, proper to seek to promote or reinforce local distinctiveness’ should remain.
Although visual appearance and the architecture of individual buildings are important factors, securing high quality and inclusive design goes beyond aesthetic considerations. Therefore, local planning authorities should address the connections between people and places and the integration of new development into the natural and built environment. Although visual appearance and the architecture of individual buildings are clearly factors in achieving these objectives, securing high quality and inclusive design goesfar beyond aesthetic considerations This is in the wrong place.  An edited version of it should go in the section on design principles, with which it overlaps.
Local planning authorities should refuse permission for development of obviously poor design that fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions. Good design should contribute positively to making places better for people. Design which is inappropriate in its context, or which fails to take the opportunities available for improving the character and quality of an area and the way it functions, should not be accepted. The importation of the phrase ‘obviously poor’ undoes all of the good work, it reimports a phrase from circular 22/80 specifically designed to downgrade design control and make it more difficult to refuse bad designs.  This phrase makes an appeal  extremely difficult to fight. You not only have to show that it fails to take opportunities for improvement but it is obvious that it is not so.  Any barrister will say it is not obvious to me or my expert witness.  This takes design control back more than 30 years.  It is a catastrophe.The deletion of ‘inappropriate in its context’ implies this is ok.There is nothing wrong with the original wording, keep it.
Where design of a particularly high quality is proposed, including innovative design, local authorities should encourage its development unless there is a compelling reason not to do so which is consistent with this National Planning Policy Framework. No equivalent section Why is this needed?  Design is  material consideration anyway, so good design always weighs in in favour of a scheme as a matter of law.It implies that good design can override fundamental planning policies, unless that policy is ‘compelling’ which are compelling and which are not?  Could it override Green Belt for example.  It is a legal nonsense and only good for lining the pockets of the appeal and legal industry .  It should be struck out
Developers will be expected to work closely with those directly affected by their proposals to evolve design proposals that take account of the views of the community. They should also recognise the benefits of considering the views of professional bodies. Proposals that can demonstrate good engagement with the community in developing the design of the new development should be looked on more favourably. No equivalent section The reference to early consultation and colloboration is welcome. ‘Where appropriate’ evolve would be better.  Objections based on non-planning matters are not material.Should be reference to ‘Local Planning Authorities should be proactive in giving pre-application advice and, where appropriate drawing up design briefs and frameworks and giving design advice on draft neighbourhood plans, working collaboratively with development interests and local people.  Any refusal to give advice on the acceptability of a design or the acceptable form and scale of development on a site, where asked for by a developer, will weaken the design case of the local planning authority at any subsequent appeal’.Should be reference to ‘Local design panels and, for larger schemes, the design council’

National Planning Policy Framework Forensics #39 Design – Local Policy

The previous part looked at the NPPF design objectives, this looks at the role it gives to local policy.

The treatment of this issue is confusingly split into two parts.

NPPF PPS1
Local planning authorities should plan positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive design for all development, including individual buildings, public and private spaces and wider area development schemes.Local planning authorities should develop a shared vision with their local communities and, from this, develop robust and comprehensive policies that set out the quality of development that will be expected for the local area. Such policies should be based on stated objectives for the future of the area and an understanding and evaluation of its present defining characteristics.

Design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.

Planning authorities should plan positively for the achievement of high quality and inclusive design for all development, including individual buildings, public and private spaces and wider area development schemes. Good design should contribute positively to making places better for people(no equivalent reference to shared vision n PPS1 but PPS3) Planning authorities should prepare robust policies on design and access. Such policies should be based on stated objectives for the future of the area and an understanding and evaluation of its present defining characteristics.

Design policies should avoid unnecessary prescription or detail and should concentrate on guiding the overall scale, density, massing, height, landscape, layout and access of new development in relation to neighbouring buildings and the local area more generally.

Development plans should also contain clear and comprehensive inclusive access policies. Such policies should consider people’s diverse needs and aim to break down the unnecessary barriers and exclusions in a manner that benefits the entire community.

 

Seen alongside each other in this manner the role and purpose of design policy is almost word for word identical. It would also make sense if the order of wording was as above as the current intermingling with other policy issues creates some confusion. One of only two substantive change is the addition that local policies are robust ‘and comprehensive‘ .  The tendency in recent years has been to shorten and reduce local design policies as national good practice guidance has improved and increased.  If this national guidance is to go, and its status is uncertain, it will create a vacuum, which is not necessarily a good thing.  This addition of wording would seem to flag that vacuum is coming.

The final change is the deletion of reference to inclusive access policies.  This is best considered under the range of urban design issues to be considered in policies and decisions, which ill cover in the next section.

The new baby boom driving population growth

Latest mid year population estimates came in at 9.30 today – click here for full tables.

Highlights:

  • The population of the UK was up 470,000 (0.8 per cent) on the previous year; the highest annual growth rate since mid-1962
  • In the nine years since 2001, the population has increased by an average of 0.6 per cent per year. This compares with 0.3 per cent per year between 1991 and 2001
  • Natural change (the difference between births and deaths) accounted for 52 per cent of UK population growth over the year to mid-2010, the third successive year that it has contributed more than net long-term international migration
  • Natural change has accounted for an increasing proportion of total population change since 2002. The main driver of this has been the number of births.
  • Net migration accounted for 48 per cent of the UK population growth in the year to mid-2010, with the number of migrants entering the UK remaining at similar levels to those seen over the past six years

Past migration has contributed to the increase in annual UK births since 2002 due to the increasing population of non-UK born women, who have (on average) higher fertility than UK born women. Migration is one of several factors pushing up births over the past decade. Another key reason is the high fertility of women over 30; some women born in the 1960s and 1970s delayed theirchildbearing to older ages and are now ‘catching up’ at older ages. It is possible that changes in support for families (such as increasing the length of maternity leave) may have contributed by creating a climate more conducive to childbearing.

One of the myths about immigration is the ‘problem’ of increased population.  With an aging population, low fertility amongst uk natives to afford our future pensions we require a boost to uk working age populations over the longer term.  If all immigration halted tomorrow then with these factors uk population would stabilise but the dependency ratio would shoot up – the much bigger problem is the dependency ratio, too few taxpayers, too many dependents.  It can bankrupt economies, as Japan is finding.  You can reduce it through more working age people, but if you do this through having babies you make it worse for a generation, and those people in turn will have babies.

You can jump straight to increasing working age population at times when labour markets are tight through relaxing immigration of working age people, but they will go on to have babies.

We may also be experience the exact reverse of the effect the Irish saw with the legalisation of contraception 30 odd years ago.  The reduction in births then reduced the dependency ratio and finally kick started growth – studies show by around 2-3%.  The effect in the UK  is the reverse desperate 30+ women having late babies are depressing UK growth by the same amount through withdrawing from the labour force.  A factor exacerbated as these are often the highest earning and most productive women.  Sadly there are trade offs between production and reproduction (I hope this isnt reposted on Mumsnet, I did after all avoid the temptation of posting a pic of our own baby).

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