The Gallagher Homes Decision


Reinforces the Hunstan decision on why you cant relay on a revoked RSS vis-a-vis plan making.

 When the report is read as a whole, far from full objectively assessed housing need being a driver in terms of the housing requirement target – as the NPPF requires – it is at best a back-seat passenger. Nowhere is the full housing need in fact objectively assessed. …

As the Inspector did not apply himself to the prior questions of whether there is any shortfall between that need and the provision made and, if there is, the amount of that shortfall, it is impossible to say whether or not there was any breach of the duty to cooperate.

On the challenge relating to reallocating white land to Green Belt

He performed an exercise of simply balancing the various current policy factors, and, using his planning judgement, concluding that it was unlikely that either of these two sites would, under current policies, likely to be found suitable for development. That, in his judgment, may now be so: but that falls very far short of the stringent test for exceptional circumstances that any revision of the Green Belt boundary must satisfy. There is nothing in this case that suggests that any of the assumptions upon which the Green Belt boundary was set has proved unfounded, nor has anything occurred since the Green Belt boundary was set that might justify the redefinition of the boundary.

Abu-Dhabi – Dubai – Sharjah in 40 Minutes by Rail – how it could be done

Controversy has erupted about how to connect Dubai to the new emirates rail network.  Original plans for a high speed rail connection between Dubai and Abu Dhabi appear to have been put on hold as the focus has switched to adding some passenger services to the freight focused Eitihad rail network which will begin its phased opening next year.  The network will effectively bypass Dubai making a direct passenger connection difficult and of course Dubai is a city that grew up around rods making a rail connection to central higher density areas rather difficult.  Hence the proposal is for two or possibly three peripheral  rail stations, one serving the new Maktoum airport next to the Dubai Expo site , Dubailand (possibly) and in the Meydan area, a largely as yet undeveloped area around the main race course in Dubai and the closest of the three to the historic core of the ‘Old Dubai’ at Deira and Bur Dubai.  The other two stations would serve the ‘new Dubai’ growing up to the West of the City towards Abu Dhabi.  The plan is to study metro extensions to connect the Eithad Rail stations to the Dubai metro system. 

There is many reasons to suggest that this would not be a viable rail connection.  I share the  concerns of the former head of the Dubai RTA Eisa Al Dossari now head of Eisa Transport consultancy.  

“I know it is being studied, but it doesn’t seem feasible. …. The route of the Etihad Rail is far away from the city, which will make it difficult for people to make quick commute between emirates. Etihad Rail is more suited for long distance travel, [Al Dossari] …suggested that the authorities should suggest a separate high-speed national commuter line that could link Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah and travel time between the emirates could be reduced to half an hour.’

You would take 20 minutes to get from Diera to the new Meydan station by rail and then as the connection would be on tracks designed for freight by a circuitous route they would be unlikely to travel very fast, probably not even 200 kph.  You can drive to Abu Dhabi or go by express coach in just over an hour and the rail route would be likely slower, so it would not be attractive for modal switch.

I suggest a pragmatic approach:

1.  Reserve a rail corridor through the ‘new Dubai’ between at least the Abu Dhabi corridor to Maktoum, Dubailand and Maydan, this routing is fairly obvious.  Make the reservation wide enough for conventional and high speed tracks in parallel.  You make a similar reservation in Abu Dhabi through the new islands to the North of Abu Dhabi island.   You design the stations to have capacity for future higher speed platforms.

2.  The required stations on the line would be a little too close to make full 300kph HSR feasible, even with Japenese Shinkansen lightweight trains which can stop every 30-40 km.  Instead you opt for Javelin class 200kph trains enabling more intermediate stations serving the New Dubai, Yas Island in Abu Dhabi etc.

3. At the Dubai end ensure the network penetrates eastwards – this can be done.  With 200 KPH speeds the curve radius geometries become less demanding.  The trick I think is to come south of Meydan racecourse not north and then curve towards the coast along Highway 73 Second Zabeell Road.  Once you get through this web of roads and across the creek it becomes much easier as you could integrate the route with the as yet to be built or completed megaprojects at Dubai Maritime City, Port Rashid, and Diera Island, with main Dubai Station being on Diera Island easy to connect by Metro with the existing network.   Then making a connection to Shariah (Rolla Centre) is surprisingly straightforward as you can cut across the largely undeveloped lagoons and then have a main Sharjah station in a redeveloped King Khalid harbour.  From there connecting to Ajman is difficult, and likely would require with an elevated or causeway link – but once into Ajman the link northwards to RAK is straightforward and would open up some prime undeveloped megaproject sites at 3 or 4 points all of which would now become within easy commuting distance of Dubai.  This would rebalence Dubai, from spreading out solely to the south east (sprawl) to balanced growth to Abdu Dhaabi and to the Northern Emirates, with the Dubai-Ajaman -Sharjah Uran hub around Bur-Dubai-Diera-Rolla and Al Bustan city centres at its core – now finally well connected by public transport.  At Abu Dhabi the central station would be at Al Reem Island with intermediate stations at other new Islands.  I suspect the land value uplift along the route would be such as to fully pay for the scheme if captured.

4.  This ‘Union Rail’ could form the focus of a a much needed urban strategy for the DAS (Dubai Ajman Sharjah) Metropolitan Area and its connections to Abd Dhabi and the Northern Emirates.  If growth solely occurs towards the ‘New Dubai’ around Jebel Ali and Maktoum then it will be car orientated sprawl, but if it is focused around public transport, which connections through to the urban core and opens up new public transport foccussed megaprojects to the north the load across the  transport network becomes less imbalanced and finally the Bur-Dubai-Diera-Rolla -Al Bustan urban hub becomes the well connected heart of the Metropolitan area rather than its declining and neglected residual left increasingly to its poorer residents only.



Pickles Served Enforcement Notice for being Unkempt

BBC Notts

Nottingham City Council has issued Eric Pickles’ department with an enforcement notice over an “unkempt” building it owns.

Lancaster House on Sherwood Rise, owned by the Department for Communities and Local Government, is currently empty.

The Labour-run city council said residents had complained about vermin due to rubbish left on the site.

Eric Pickles will not comment on the matter until the DCLG receives the paperwork, expected after Easter.

BBC East Midlands’ political editor John Hess said that even when Mr Pickles sees the paperwork, he was “likely to dismiss it as a political stunt”.

Residents have complained that the rubbish is attracting vermin

A Section 215 notice has been sent to the DCLG, which gives the local authority the power to deal with property that is “detrimental to the amenities of the neighbourhood”.

It gives the DCLG seven days to clean up the property or face a bill for the council having to complete the work on its behalf.

Nottingham city councillor Sam Webster said: “I hope Mr Pickles is here this weekend and cleans some black bags out himself but I can’t see that happening.

“They haven’t responded to us so far and they were given seven days’ notice to come and clear and secure the site.”

It is estimated it will cost about £1,000 to clean up the site.


Making Public Transport Self Funding – Through Naming Rights

Public Transport often struggles to cover its operating expenses through the farebox.  Only a very few very high capacity BRT schemes in South America run an operating profit. Dubai RTA however thinks it can fully cover 100% of its operating costs for its metro by 2017, it already covers 60%.  How?  Well by extending a scheme which has already raised over 320 million pounds – naming rights.

Imagine instead of going to Wembley Central you went to Quintain, or instead of West Croydon you went to Ikea.  That is the principal, hence you have stations with names like Dubai Mall, Sharaf DG (an electronics chain), Dubai City Centre (actually the name of a mall and not Dubai City Centre – even if there was such a place), and Palm Diera, even in the last case the project after which it is named is not longer called Palm Diera buit Diera Island, that project will not have a metro, and the station in question though the nearest to that project is around 2km from it.

It is easy to be skeptical, Sharjah DG after all is not a place and there are dozens of Sharah DGs, the place that Metro serves is an area called Al Barsha, but if you looked on the metro map on how to get to Al Barsha you would get confused (as I was at first).  On the whole though the scheme works because Dubai is a city of corporately branded projects.  Ahmed Kanna describes it well in his book – Dubai The City As Corporation.   So few people get confused by Stations called ‘Mall of the Emirates’, ‘Dubai Marina’ or ‘World Trade Centre’ because that branding is the name of the new city district that has been created.  But with the announcement today that all and every station will have its naming rights sold then existing geographically specific names such as ‘Al Rigga’ and ‘Karama’ will likely go.

Such is scheme is likely to work less well in a city not comprised of mega projects – like London.  But the prizes of funding your operating costs as a result means that it can’t be far away.   So Piccadilly Circus could come Virgin, Oxford Circus Selfridges, Knightsbridge Harrods, Tottenham Hale, Spurs, Covent Garden Delloites, Kings Cross, Google, Whitechapel, News International and Victoria, Pimlico Plumbers.  Actually would that really be so outrageous, no one would get lost would they?  It would be a lot easier for tourists coming to shop.  As in Dubai if certain firms want to maintain a presence on the map they will be forced to buy the naming rights.

Naming rights for all of London’s stations, over and underground, would likely raise over 15 billion pounds, and there would be global interest, it would fund a new tube line and several tram lines.  Is that a price worth paying to get off at Apple station rather than Leicester Square, at Arups instead of Warren Street, At Disney instead of Hammersmith?







Motion slams ‘philistine’ National Planning Policy

Daily Mail – oh I wish he would stop using the figure of 1 million and a half brownfield sites – they have been told again and again and again that he is misquoting and misreading the NLUD data, it is pdl suitable for 1 1/2 homes – it is only a few thousand sites – and not all of those will be viable however you define viability.  If he desont understand teh difference between a site and a home he will simply be ridiculed by the HBF and rightly so.

William Wordsworth would be ‘having fits’ about the development planned for the countryside, former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion has said.

Now president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, he made the claim as he criticised the  Government’s ‘philistine’ relaxation of planning laws in favour of builders.

He said: ‘It is pretty clear that Wordsworth would be having a series of fits about what is going on now and the great tragedy of it is that a lot of this stuff doesn’t need to happen.

‘There are a million-and-a-half brownfield sites available – build on them. The Government should be incentivising builders to build on them which provides the kind of housing that we need.

‘It regenerates often rather decayed landscapes, it means we don’t have to create new infrastructure. It is plain good sense.

‘We need to be extraordinarily vigilant about this because when it is gone, it is gone forever.’

Wordsworth immortalised the Lake District with his 1807 poem Daffodils.

Sir Andrew also referred to Philip Larkin’s 1972 poem Going, Going in which he wrote of his concern ‘that will be England gone’ because of shoddy development.

The former Poet Laureate blamed the National Planning Policy Framework of 2012, which aimed to cut red tape, saying it was the work of ‘philistine’ Whitehall officials.

 Sir Andrew told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I feel in my lifetime there is a greater risk to our countryside because of these careless loosenings of things which need to be very properly defended.

‘It is philistine but worse because it is so unnecessary. It is a betrayal of the heritage, it is the pursuit of money and development.’

He also criticised councils for approving ugly ‘boxlike’ homes.


Beruit – First Impressions

Am now in Beruit touching base at my companies global HQ.

I grew up with the images of the 20 year civil war in Beruit.  The kidnapping of John McCarthy, the artillery barrages from the Bekkar Valley, reading o’rourkes ‘holidays in Hell’ about here in 1990.  The pictures of buildings in its down town, which was always the frontline, shot apart by bullets and shells. Then I thought there would be no where less likely to be.

Beruit now shows the resilience of a great city with 5,000 years of history, already rebuilt from fires (twice) a tidal wave and many catastrophes.  It might not still be a candidate for one of the most picturesque cities in the world, as it might have been up to the 1940s even, with its fantastic sandstone buildings and villas, but the march of concretisation had destroyed much of that civil war or not and you cant be too nostalgic.  What Beruit illustrates is something I have long thought – that given a choice between (if you have to) picturesqueness and vitality vitality would always come out tops because who would want to live in a anemic museum kept perfect for visitors bit drained of all life.  Beruit is one of the most vital cities on the planet with a ar and club scene, and with great small bars and clubs, as good as anywhere on the planet.

How close all cities are to the destruction of war is evident here and something I think Britain  has sadly forgotten.  The recent political dismissiveness of the value of planning would have been thinkable to the 1945 generation.  A colleague here describes frantic calls from a (former) client in Syria quite recently, where are you, we have a project on, battles what battles, everything is fine.

Much of the downtown has been rebuilt according to a masterplan by the French public planning research institute, appropriate as it is of course ‘the Paris of the Middle East’  Controversial plan inevitably and still only about half done, they are still revealing the main cathedral capenelle, but undeniably impressive.  Historic building are being restored and who streets and quarters lost forever are being rebuilt in one quarter using entirely traditional materials.  Massing and street lines are well mannered and well thought out. But the centre has too many one way streets and a very like any other city devastating ring road which makes it a peril for pedestrians on what is otherwise a fantastically walkable and compact city.   Public transport – it is more like an African city reliant on shared taxis.  A good tram system and it would be a wonderful place to live.

But the downtown is artificial, perhaps inevitably.  It lacks the rough edges of a place with the scratches of history and parts feel more like a timeshare complex.  The rubble in the city centre was just dumped out on the seafront creating a large area of reclaimed land on which a new quarter is slowly being built.  More interesting I think are the aras around the edges of the downtown where many old, and frighteningly neglected houses and villas remain.  The area to the east of the city city contains wonderful pedestrianized streets and courtyards where old houses have been converted to pubs and clubs. I would post some photos but so far have not been able to emerge from work before sundown.

Statistical Theory Argument Could Lead to Legal Challenge to Stratford Core Strategy Meeting

Seriously there could be a JR because of the way Stratford DC has ‘filtered’ its survey results on the latest round of its core strategy consultation.

It asked respondants to rank the preferred option location for its ‘Big lump’ of a strategic allocation.  Including the previous preferred option (At Gaydon, a new settlement) but also four more including another new settlement. Not ranked all of there responses 1 to 5.  Some for example ranked them 1,2, or 1,2,3 etc.  It was not until midway through the consultation that Stratford DC indicated you had to rank all five, and even then did not say they incomplete rankings would render a response invalid.

But now their committee report ‘throws away’ incomplete rankings – treating them as what is known in statistics as a ‘non response’.  This has seriously affected the result in terms of the most ‘preferred’ response, Gaydon would not have been top of the list but now is.  So the result of this decision could seriously sway councillors and lead them to select Gaydon or not. Naturally the anti Gaydon local group is furious.  It could end in the courts.

Now why would you want to do that?  Does it introduced distortions if you dont? Well in terms of statistical theory no – if you are only considering top ranked questions.  that is rank 1.  Then you can report without any distortion the top rank.  But then you lose all information on the 2, 3 ranks etc.  Its the same as asking a single response question on what one you prefer.

If you do want to use the rank 2, 3 response etc. in your analysis you get serious distortions if you don’t deal with the incomplete rank order questions responses.  That is because as we have all learned people arn’t just ranking their top order preferred response.  In reality many respondents are not ranking top preferences but least preferred.  Ranking lowest the area furthest way from them.  Here if someone ranks 1 to 3 and another ranks 1 to 5.  The rank order 3 of the first is not the same as the rank order 5th of the other  – you cant add them up.  If you want to do serious statistical analysis – to find out if people are ranking dispreference rather than preference, then you cant treat all responses the same.  You need to re-weight the response scores, and there are several techniques to do so, mostly pioneered in the marketing industry.  Then you can, for example, use spatial autocorrelation and other tests to see if people are simply always ranking worst the area closest to them.   Which of course not an unbiased preference.

But there is no indication that Stratford DC is doing this.  They are half aware of the problem.  Have chosen the clumsiest and worst method of all to ‘compensate’, throwing away all incomplete response and as a result have seriously distorted the headline result. They didnt need to anyway as they dont seem to be really analyzing the results below rank 1.  So they have committed a serious, though unintentional, statistical blunder and risk misleading cllrs at the forthcoming ‘final’ meeting on submission.

Myself and the entire English Planning profession thought we were so clever in pioneering this kind of question.  Instead we were idiots.  Questionnaire design and analysis without at least some grasp of statistics 101 is worse that not doing a questionnaire at all.

Stratford should pull the report and give the raw data to a statistical professional to analyse first.  It would be much cheaper than a ‘sadly’ well deserved JR, and published the raw anoymised results on its website (good practice).  (DPA means you cant include the full postcode but you can and should the postcode district).

After allhow can you be sure of what is ‘locally led’ if you dont even know what locals actually prefer or not?

Narrower Utility Corridors – Wider Streets

At last its taken four years but its here.  The National

New streets built in Abu Dhabi will be significantly more pedestrian friendly thanks to guidelines outlined by the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council.

The guidelines, which appear in the Utility Corridors Design Manual (UCDM) that was launched yesterday, aim to reduce the width of public right-of-ways by making more efficient use of the space below street level. The manual provides planners, developers and engineers with guidelines for the location and width of underground corridors for utilities such as water pipes, stormwater drainage, power cables, fibre-optic cables, sewage pipes and district cooling systems beneath new streets across the emirate.

“It will ensure utility corridors are efficiently planned underground, which in turn will create more attractive and walkable streets above ground for the benefit of pedestrians,” said Mohammed Al Khadar, executive director of development review and Estidama at UPC.

For pedestrians, the changes will result in wider pavements. The new guidelines also allow for a wider space in front of businesses.

“The pavements, actually, are increasing. Today we have a huge right-of-way in Abu Dhabi, we have sometimes up to 160 metres, but the pavement sometimes goes to less than two metres, sometimes one metre,” Mr Al Hmoudi said.

The new standards will require pavements to be a minimum of two metres wide, generally, and three metres in high-density and high-traffic areas.

The UCDM guidelines will be applied to projects in Al Shawamekh, Al Shamkha, parts of Baniyas, Sector Z35 in Mohammed bin Zayed City, North Wathba Master Plan, Sila’a, Delma and Ghayathi in Al Gharbia. Many older streets will be retrofitted to meet these standards over the next 20 years.

Telegraph – Tories to Announce Anti Wind Farm Policies


Local residents will get new powers to block all new onshore wind farms within six months of a new Conservative government taking office, the party will promise on Thursday.

No subsidies will paid to operators of new onshore wind turbines if the Conservatives win a Commons majority next May, they will promise.

The commitment to stop the erection of new onshore turbines – revealed in The Telegraph earlier this month – is the latest hardening of Conservative rhetoric on green energy.

Subsidies for existing onshore wind would remain in place and wind farms currently under construction or given legal consent would still be completed, almost doubling the onshore wind sector’s capacity by 2020.

But no more onshore turbines would be put in place beyond that, Michael Fallon, the energy minister, will say.

The Tories would change those rules so that major sites would be processed by local councils, allowing local politicians to reflect the views of residents.

Planning policies would also be altered to give greater weight to local concerns about landscape and heritage.

If the Conservatives win the election next year, they would put new curbs on wind farms in place by November 2015, Mr Fallon said. The UK has “enough” onshore turbines he said.

“We remain committed to cutting our carbon emissions. And renewable energy, including onshore wind, has a key role in our future energy supply. But we now have enough bill payer-funded onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more.

“That’s why the next Conservative Government will end any additional bill payer subsidy for onshore wind.”

Paint Streets with White Titanium Paint to Reduce Car Air-Conditioning

The National

On hot, summer days, the last place you would want to be is up on a roof – especially without footwear on.

They are hoping the cool paint will be used throughout Abu Dhabi and the UAE, believing it could significantly reduce the environmental cost of running air-conditioning units.

Its developers, Watergy International Group, claim the paint could reduce a building’s surface temperature by 20 per cent.

This in turn would reduce the cooling load of the building as a whole, energy consumption and carbon dioxide production.

The technology was tested on a 197-square-metre area of the roof at the Masdar field station, where Watergy workers painted a third of the area with gray cool paint, which matched the original colour of the concrete, a third was painted white, while the remainder of open roof area was left uncoated. Stepping on to the cool painted area, everyone took their shoes off under the glaring sun and started strolling around the cool roof.

The difference between the painted and non-painted areas was immediately noticeable.

Peter Armstrong, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Masdar Institute, said that the white paint is the coolest, but based on architectural requests, the paint could be provided in other colours, such as grey and black.

“It is best to have white on the roof because no one can see it up there,” he said.

Measuring the temperature on the unpainted area at 9.30am on a toasty Abu Dhabi morning, the reading was 46.6°C. Moving to the coated area it was 24.9°C.

Prof Armstrong believes it is not only buildings that could benefit.

He suggested painting the streets with it as “the cooling load of the AC in the car will be less”.

He explained that when a car’s air conditioning is turned up, while the car might be nice and chilled, you are adding to the heat of the street and the surrounding environment.

The secret to the cooling is titanium dioxide, a chemical used in sunscreens because of its excellent reflective qualities.

Prof Armstrong says the paint would have more dramatic effects on buildings with poor insulation.

“A typical villa with concrete or block walls with no insulation benefits the most from this paint – which is the case in most of Abu Dhabi,” he said.

Another useful way to take advantage of the paint is to apply it to AC units on roofs of buildings.

“Villas would benefit greatly. In a typical villa the AC unit is up on the roof so when you limit the heat on the roof you improve the performance of the AC because now where the AC is, it is a lower temperature,” he said. “The higher the temperature is where AC is trying to reject the heat the lower the performance.”

Industrial areas and warehouses could also benefit greatly.

“For example, car shops have fans in their warehouses. Let’s say the fan is sending down air at 40°C,” said Wamid Zori, managing director of Watergy. “So imagine the impact if we can get it down to 30°C.”

Cool paint costs as much as any good-quality paint, “so it is not so expensive, yet worth the other savings”, Mr Zori said.

The paint has already been tested on a hangar roof in Sharjah and a supermarket in Milan, Italy with positive results.

Meanwhile, Watergy has signed a memorandum of understanding with Masdar worth Dh10 million to test the paint in two 50,000-square-metre areas of Abu Dhabi.

Prof Armstrong is keen to get started painting straight away.