Category Archives: urban planning

Stunning Time Lapse Film of Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Funded by BBC by . From a skyscrapers eye view.  Not taking with a movie camera but still with timed exposures.  As the camera dollies, zooms and pans I was left thinking how the **** did he do that. He must have a very clever rig to do it without camera shake.  The closing credits give the answer.


The Nobel Prize for Planning Petitions – ‘We are opposed to star architects constructing their angular spectacles of glass and steel’

Building Design - All the press reports about England having the most ‘bogged down and protracted’ planning system in the world are wrong.  Protests and JRs in Sweden often mean that major projects can take decades.   Though David Chipperfield seems to be gaining a rep for insensitivity re Heritage Assets and Settings

The Nobel Foundation has insisted that a campaign to block David Chipperfield’s Nobel Centre will not succeed in moving it to another part of Stockholm.

The site, on a promontory in the heart of the Swedish capital, was donated by the city authorities which has been saving it for just such an international cultural project, a spokeswoman told BD.

Thousands of protestors have joined a Facebook group objecting to plans for a “monumental building” in a “fragile” part of the city.

And nearly 2,000 have signed a petition against the plans, with 400 adding their names in the week since Chipperfield was named winner of the international design competition.

It declares: “We are opposed to star architects constructing their angular spectacles of glass and steel right in the middle of the protected historic environment, as monuments to themselves, at our expense and the city’s.”

They are particularly upset that construction of the Nobel Centre will result in the relocation of ferries and the demolition of a number of historic harbourside buildings in the Blasieholmen area.

These include the Customs House, dating from 1876 and designed by Axel Fredrik Nystrom, architect of the capital’s Old National Archives and the Naval Academy. Stockholm’s last two surviving wooden harbour warehouses, dating from around 1910, are also due to go.

Caroline Silfverstolpehe of the Preserve Blasieholmen network, described Chipperfield’s design as a “giant colossus – a de facto convention centre on the mediaeval quayside pillaging everything in its path”.

In a fast-developing city, buildings that speak of its past are more important than ever, she said.

“[The Nobel] is obviously an important part of Sweden and its history that absolutely deserves to get a special place,” she wrote on the website Stockholm Skyline.

“But does it make sense that this is at the expense of other important values​​, such as the city’s cultural, historic buildings and shipping? The answer is no. Stockholm has room for both these buildings, shipping and a Nobel Museum…

“It is difficult to imagine a more vacuous locus for the solemn Nobel festivities than the one currently planned. It’s time to open both eyes.”

But Annika Pontikis of the Nobel Foundation said: “This is the site that has been given to the project by the city of Stockholm. The city has been saving it for a very long time for a cultural project with international outreach and they felt the Nobel Centre would be perfect.”

She said such campaigns were a typical part of the planning process in Stockholm. The public could have its say through a consultation process that has just begun.

“It’s a city where larger projects of this kind are met with all kinds of discussion and groups of this kind are quite normal,” she added. “We wouldn’t anticipate anything but a debate.”

Chipperfield, who was not available to comment, will now work on detailed plans with a view to submitting the project for planning in the autumn.

The architect was replaced on the redevelopment of the Geffrye Museum in east London after protestors objected to his plans to demolish a Victorian pub. But its plans for Elizabeth House were approved by a planning inspector despite complaints that it would damage views from the Westminster World Heritage Site.

The Guardian – Evidence Arms Race Strangles New Housing

The Guardian - Very True.  Why not have we suggested before have a national commission such as the sadly scrapped NHPAU do it and be done with it.  LPAs should not have to be hyper housing numbers wonks like me – they should be place making experts.

The coalition’s radical shake-up of the planning system was designed to unleash a spate of new housebuilding.

But on the second anniversary of the introduction of the National Planning Policy Framework, we are still more than 100,000 houses a year short of targets.

There are a number of reasons for this, including wider economic factors, but there is little doubt that one of the choke points is the slow progress of local plans.

Findings from a recent survey of more than 100 local authorities highlight how the time it takes to approve a local plan has risen by 40% to 14 months – hardly conducive to delivering the homes the nation’s future generations require. One of the reasons for this is an evidence arms race which is causing gridlock in the planning system for some areas.

There is a growing bank of findings which show that the pro- and anti-housebuilding lobbies are cranking up the pressure on planning inspectors by presenting volumes of evidence for, or against, futurehousing needs. This involves drawing on the latest data and increasingly refined assumptions on the smallest detail as ammunition for the examination process.

On one side, some councils are investing significant amounts of money on evidence to try to justify reduced estimates of housing need in their local area, presenting a vast array of figures in an attempt to show that economic changes, pension age reform, increased private renting and more sharing of houses by younger people will reduce the level of housing required in their area.

In response, many developers then invest similar amounts assembling the evidence to counter these arguments. In one recent case involving a council in the south of England, a planning inspector had to go through some 20 conflicting consultation documents to come to a decision about whether or not the plan was sound.

Because there is always new data being released, parties on both sides latch on to the latest facts to justify their position, often leading to further delays.

Our research found that just over half of all local plans have proposed fewer homes than the former regional strategy had envisaged, and half of councils have yet to publish a new local plan.

Meanwhile, areas with local plans that predate the NPPF are vulnerable because they do not accord with most recent policy requirements that local areas meet housing needs. These are likely to be overturned on appeal. This applies even for plans prepared as recently as 2011.

A revitalised economy is reinforcing the development industry’s appetite to build new homes. Given the extent of England’s housing crisis and the policy stipulations of the NPPF that local plans must positively seek opportunities to meet the need for new homes, the deep scrutiny of housing plans will not go away soon.

It is also becoming apparent that some local authorities have ambitious targets for new jobs in their areas, but do not match this with sufficient housing development in their plans to enable residents of working age to get on the housing ladder. This leads to long-distance commuting, making it difficult for local businesses to recruit.

Unless this changes, housing will continue to be a planning battleground for years, and all parties will continue to draw upon evidence to back up their position at examinations and planning appeals.

A huge amount of intellectual energy are being invested in an attritional debate over housing numbers when we would all be better off if local areas planned to meet their housing needs and made the case for housing to local residents so that all involved could then focus on good design, mixed communities and creating better places and homes.

Matthew Spry is director at planning consultancy Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners

New Cabinet Minister Privately Lobbies Boles on Housebuilding in Her Constituancy


A newly-appointed Cabinet minister has privately protested to David Cameron about plans to build thousands of homes on the English countryside.

Nicky Morgan, the new Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Minister for Women who was promoted in last week’s reshuffle, told Mr Cameron that plans to build 9,000 homes were causing “great concern” to her constituents and could overwhelm local schools and roads.

It suggests senior Tories fear they could be punished by rural voters at the next election, after moves to water-down planning regulations provoked anger.

Mrs Morgan has said she supports the government’s reforms to the planning system, which Mr Cameron hopes will lead to tens of thousands more homes being built.

However, voters in Mrs Morgan’s Loughborough constituency have been alarmed by large housing schemes proposed by Charnwood Council, including a 500-property development near the village of Shepshed and 3,000 homes near Garendon Park, a country estate.

Mrs Morgan, who in a year’s time will be defending a 3,700 majority, relayed their concerns in private meetings with David Cameron, Nick Boles, the planning minister, and Steve Quartermain, the Chief Planner who is the Whitehall official in charge of boosting house building.

Writing on her personal website in November 2013, Mrs Morgan said she had “continued to raise concerns about local planning at the highest levels of Government.”

“Concerns about planning and inappropriate/too much development is one of the most common concerns local residents talk to me about.

“This week I discussed these concerns with both the Prime Minister and the Planning Minister. I made it clear that while people often accept the need to build more affordable housing and also housing for older residents, developers must listen to the views of local residents and consider the pressure on local infrastructure such as roads and schools.”

The comments were among a series of news entries on Mrs Morgan’s website that been deleted at some point in the last month.

However, an impression of the page has been retained by Google, meaning they are still visible.

Planning reforms under the National Planning Policy Framework have been stiffly resisted by rural campaigners who say they put the countryside at risk by weakening the ability of locals to block developments.

A Treasury source said: “Ministers are constituency MPs. It’s compatible to support government policy and represent concerns on behalf of constituents.”

This is a Garden City (honest) #GardenCity

Some of My favorites for stretching the term.


Ajman Garden City.  If you want cheap and not so cheerful housing – with an conference of international urban planning expertese ‘sponsered by the University of Wolverhampton’ Ajman is your place.

Zenzou Garden City China – a real image not a joke – what not build a garden city on the roof of a mega mall.  You could fit Letchworth on top of Dubai Mall.


Westfield Garden City Perth - From the biggest mall developers in the world in the most provincial city in the world.  What could possibly go right.

Kampala Garden City – Designed by the British – landscape only plots for housing. Now the knobs/Ngos/Embassies quarter.  Miss it.


Mirny Garden City – Amazing what you can turn the worlds biggest hole in Eastern Siberia into (still at design stage)


Letchworth?  No Forest Hills Gardens in  New York State


 Village of Garden City Long island - unfair a mid 19th planned community around 5 railways stations.  Likley EH got the term, and concept of teh social city, from this development from his first states visit.  Now famous for zoining to keep out black people and losing court battle to do so.

Village Nature planned in France


Garden City Kansas – just try crossing the road.

Dresden Hellerau Garden City – better than  Letchworth even and Unwin would have agreed.


Zlin Garden City Czech Republic – very nice, especially if you are a fan of Bata shoes (who isnt).

Even Sau Paulo has one - Alto de Pinheiros

And Mexico City even Lomas de Chapultepec

Powell River Britsih Columbia – the whole town a national monument.

Another of my Favorites Tiong Bahru in Singapore. Built by the chinese  Ironically the Singaporians and from them the Chinese learned from this they medium rise housing could not scale or be built fast enough to cope with rapid urbaanisation.

There are hundreds, only England stopped building them, please send in your favorites.  I am trying to search for my favoritesovient built contructivist example in the Baltic, ill try and remember.

‘Locally Led’ Garden Cities Prospectus Published – Out goes the ‘Social City’


Seems like a clumsy number 10 red pen all over it – lots of examples:

Unlike the previous Government’s Eco-Towns programme, this is a local solution, giving communities the power to choose sites, plans and designs for Garden Cities, not (sic) rather than Whitehall imposing what it thinks best for local people.

A line also clumsily edited out of the appendix at last minute by the PM/DPM – and not proof read, and it shows.

So what do they mean by ‘Garden City’  To immunise themselves on this they quote the TCPA principles -without any editing – including the principles of land value capture and long term community stewardship of assets.  The only change is to mark down land value capture from point 1 to point 2, and deletion of the concept of social city, well Ebenezer was a libertarian socialist (great Friend of Anarchists Geddes and Kropotkin) and this hinted way to much of regional planning – afterall it was the origin of regional planning, the condemns liking.  On that small point Ol Uncle Ebenezer  would have curled slightly his mustache – but then he was always a supreme pragmatist.

Key Garden City principles include:

  • strong vision, leadership and community engagement (moved to top);

  • land value capture for the benefit of the community (moved from top);

  • community ownership of land and long-term stewardship of assets;

  • mixed-tenure homes and housing types that are affordable for ordinary people;

  • a strong local jobs offer in the Garden City itself, with a variety of employment opportunities within easy commuting distance of homes;

  • Beautifully and imaginatively designed homes with gardens, combining the very best of town and country living to create healthy homes in vibrant communities;

  • generous green space linked to the wider natural environment, including a surrounding belt of countryside to prevent sprawl, well connected and biodiversity rich public parks, and  a mix of public and private networks of well managed, high-quality gardens, tree-lined streets and open spaces;

  • opportunities for residents to grow their own food, including generous allotments;

  • strong local cultural, recreational and shopping facilities in walkable neighbourhoods; and

  • integrated and accessible transport systems – with a series of settlements linked by rapid transport providing a full range of employment opportunities (as set out in Howard’s vision of the ‘Social City’).

Very short – nothing at all about setting down a positive enabling government (including legislative) framework.

Nothing at all about testing and comparing site options as part of a ‘larger than local’ approach – including of course alternatives of releasing existing Green Belt.  The assumption presumably is that the LPAs will do this – but how can they express an interest and how can a government back these unless they are already part of a local Plan process.  Hence this prospectus will simply back those already in the system and wont bring forward any new Garden Cities, least of all where they are most needed and most suited.

The government, as at Ebbsfleet, is only offering to overcome barriers to delivery, not any other barriers, least of all those created by nimbys.

I note that the expressions of interest checklist says nothings about stating methods for capturing land value uplift, and failing to learn the key Ecotowns lesson whether or not alternatives have been considered. Nothing either about meeting wider government growth or infrastructure objectives or aligning with wider infrastructure planning (e.g. East West rail etc.).

There is no requirement that the expressions of interest have to be put forward expressions of interest, the wording is very careful on this.  Localities can only choose whether to support the scheme and design, not to lead on the scheme or design.  ‘Locally led’ is the wrong term here  they are landowner led and locally vetoed.

Well its a start.  What if the privatye sector put forward a proposal and the government likes it – will that be a material planning consideration on appeal?  Certainly localities should be given the opportunity to veto as suggested but what if there then is an appeal?  And if government backing is material then surely the submissions, like Ecotowns, would require an SEA?  If governbment backing is in no way shape or form a material considerartion, providing a framework for development consents, then what is the point of the prospectus, other than pointing out what the large scale sites programme already does.

A start of a long messy journey from a prime minister who has given a speech praising regional planning for Garden Cities but doesn’t like Labour doing it.

Plan Adoption with an Early Review – Difference Between May be and Can be

There has been considerable uncertainty regarding whether the Act allows Local Plans to be adopted even though they are unsopund at teh date of adoption – subject to an early review.  One thinks of Dacroum EiP.  Otherwise Local plans could simply delay by three of four years being up to date., manipulating numbers to avoiud allocating a asensitive housing site this side of an electioon

Para 008 of gold guidance

Plans may be found sound conditional upon a review in whole or in part within five years of the date of adoption.

The key here is the difference grammatically between can be and may be.  We know that they can be – see the Dacorum inspectors report for example – where they dont have 10 years supply but do have 5.


The word can is used to denote ability.

I can swim. 
(I have the ability to swim.)

Can he lift 150 kgs? 
(Does he have the ability to lift 150 kgs?)


The word may is used to denote permission.

 You may swim in this river. 
(You are allowed to swim in this river.)

May I have a biscuit? 
(Am I permitted to have a biscuit?)

Anchorman can alloow many things, but what he may not do is give consent to go beyond the powers of the act.  There you see the difference.  We all know from the Reigategate debacle how good he is at forgetting to apply commas.

Garden Cities Prospectus to be Published Today – Clegg will Promise Three


Three new garden cities will be built in the “arc of prosperity” on countryside between Oxford and Cambridge under Liberal Democrat plans.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, will today publish a long-awaited prospectus which he describes as a “call to arms” for a new generation of garden cities. He will say that the new garden cities, which will each have at least 15,000 new homes, will end the “resentment” caused by decades of “ad-hoc urban sprawl” and provide a solution to the “chronic” housing shortfall.

Mr Clegg’s vision for new garden cities, which will appear in the Lib-Dem manifesto, will put pressure on David Cameron to match his commitment.

The Prime Minister has backed a new garden city on industrial land in Ebbsfleet, Kent, but the Tories have yet to make any further commitments amid concerns that garden cities in the countryside could alienate Tory voters.

Mr Clegg is today expected to say: “We have allowed ad-hoc, urban sprawl to become a default solution, and it’s a bad one, breeding local resentment while not solving the resentment while not solving the problem. Today I’m publishing a new garden cities ‘prospectus’, which calls for local areas to submit their vision for garden cities that will provide affordable homes, good schools and jobs for the next generation, while at the same time preserving the countryside.”

The prospectus invites councils to put forward proposals for new garden cities with the support of their local communities. It states that they must be “ambitious” in scale, have good transport links, and be able to draw on private funding.

By the end of August the Government will begin working on three proposals for garden cities to help remove planning red tape and secure private funding.

The potential barriers to development will be discussed by a Cabinet committee chaired by Mr Clegg. Successful schemes will be able to claim a share of the £2.4 billion that the Government has put aside for housing development.

The report says garden cities will not be “imposed” on local authorities, and that new developments will ensure “public services, green spaces and amenities are hard-wired into designs from the beginning”.

From Dec 3rd Last  here- Will Clegg Screw Up Garden Cities Like Everything else he Touches.

NT – Local Councils ‘Hustled’ into allocating Green Field Sites


Councils are being “hustled” into allowing badly thought-out development on greenfield land by central Government, the director of the National Trust has warned.

Pressure to increase the amount of housing developments are forcing “ill-prepared” councils to redesignate countryside sites instead of building on brownfield areas, Dame Helen Ghosh has said.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4′s The World This Weekend, Dame Helen said that the Nation Trust is “very concerned” about the potential planning permissions that will blight green areas and that the organisation was “making representations” to the Government on the issue.

She said: “We are very concerned that the haste with which local authorities – some of them ill-prepared to do so – the haste with which they’ve been hustled into producing their local plans and the pressure they’re under to produce the numbers of houses has forced them, in some cases, to designate greenfield sites, and we are very worried about that and we are monitoring it and making appropriate representations to Government about it.

“There were some positive signs recently in recently-issued guidance from the Department for Communities and Local Government that the incentives to develop on brownfield sites would be strengthened, and some of the arguments that developers make – that it’s just too difficult to develop on brownfield sites and you have to do so much investment before you begin – were ones that local authorities should not listen to.

Hostility towards the Government’s attitude to the countryside in its planning reforms is growing, with much of the frustrations focused on Nick Boles, the planning minister.

Frustration has reached such levels that many traditional Conservatives are considering a switch to Ukip which is now fighting the planning reforms.

Last month Sir Simon Jenkins, the Chairman of the National Trust, warned that protections for the green belt around towns and cities to control sprawl, which were welcomed by the Prime Minister when the reforms were laid out, are proving to be virtually worthless.

He said: “We shouldn’t have to fight for the green belt in 2014. At the present moment 150,000 applications are in for the green belt. This should be absolutely inconceivable.”

“The green belt is no longer sacrosanct – that is the fact. A sensible planning regime would consider how you would best protect greenfield land around the cities.”

Libraries on Beaches and in Parks – What a Great Idea

The National The Very definition of a Third Place – When will we see one in a run down Beach Cafe in Margate?

ABU DHABI // For many sun lovers there is nothing nicer than laying on a beach and relaxing with a good book.

But what happens when you open your beach bag and realise you have left your book at home?

Well, if that occurs while you are at the Abu Dhabi Corniche do not despair because now you have a whole library of books to choose from.

The public library on the Abu Dhabi Corniche was officially opened on Thursday, to the delight of beach goers….

There are also libraries at Khalifa Park and at parks in Al Shahama and Al Bahia….

Adel Al Rabeea, marketing and communications director at Abu Dhabi Municipality, said there was a demand for a beach library.

“Ninety per cent of those we surveyed said it was necessary to have a library here,” he said.”We partnered with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development in this initiative. It’s amazing that we transformed a store to a library.”

Sheikh Nahyan said he hoped the beach library would be a popular spot among residents and tourists….

“We want to create an environment where information is available to everybody at any given time and place, such as this lovely Corniche beach.”


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