Architects Slam new GLA Access Guidance

Architects Journal

The plans, set out in draft housing guidance, would force all London homes to have step-free access regardless of what level they are on, removing the flexibility in the current building regulations.

A clause within the Mayor’s Draft Interim Housing Supplementary Guidance states that the ‘optional’ building regulation M4 should be applied to all new homes.

Professionals fear the proposals would see councils demanding that every housing developments over two storeys had a lift.

Although it would be possible for boroughs to relax the requirement, architects are worried the tone of the document will compel most councils to adopt the standard.

Head of housing for Levitt Bernstein, Julia Park, branded the requirement unachievable and untenable and said she had visited the Greater London Authority (GLA) to warn that it was already ‘causing chaos’.

‘The GLA has managed to create yet another policy that they know won’t always be achievable – or even desirable.

‘Our understanding is they are not expecting all homes to have step-free access and accept that some housing typologies, including small, low- rise blocks of flats and double stacked maisonettes remain extremely valuable, so are not being banned, despite the fact that they can’t support the capital or ongoing cost of a lift,’ she said.

Bernstein, added: ‘It’s just a pity they don’t come out and say that instead of hiding behind an ambiguous ‘get out’ clause in the small print.’

Frustrated with the proposed plans, housing architect Peter Barber or Peter Barber Architects, said: ‘If this goes through I’m giving up.’

He warned it would ‘sound the death knell for a lower-rise high-density approach to urban housing and neighbourhoods’ and was a ‘resounding endorsement of the generic corridor apartment building.’

Barber commented: ‘This is a Draconian, pointless, sledgehammer change to policy which has not been thought through.

‘It is policy which plays in to the hands of land grab London’s generic developer and his lazy architect. It will encourage the kind of lumpy middle and high rise apartment blocks which are currently being shoved up all over our city.

He added: ‘[It signals the end] for the kind of sociable street based high density lower rise (4/5 storey) urban neighbourhoods which we should be building in their place.’

Consultation ended on the plans in August.

Cameron Speech to Scrap Affordable Housing


In a bid to shift from generation rent to generation buy, Cameron will say in his speech at the Conservative party conference on Wednesday that he hopes his new starter homes proposal can unblock housebuilding in the UK by abolishing demands that developers provide a certain amount of affordable housing to rent in new developments.

The change is critical to the government reaching its challenging target ofbuilding 200,000 starter homes over this parliament and has been long demanded by private sector developers.

In one of his central policies due to be unveiled in his closing speech, Cameron will say: “For years politicians have been talking about building what they call affordable homes but the phrase was deceptive. It basically means ones that were only available for rent. What people want are homes they can actually own.

“When a generation of hardworking men and women in their 20s and 30s are waking up each morning in their childhood bedrooms, that should be a wake-up call for all of us. We need a national crusade to get houses built. That means banks lending, government releasing land and, yes, planning being reformed.”

In the key reform, ministers will change the definition of affordable housing to include not just properties for rent, but starter homes, as part of the government’s programme to build low-cost homes for first-time buyers so long as they are under 40 years old. It will mean developers will have fulfilled their obligations to a council if they build homes for purchase.

Under the scheme, houses must must be 20% below the market rent and capped at £450,000 inside London and £250,000 outside.

Lord Adonis – 40 Towns must Double in Size

Daily Mail – yes but if that is the best option, and shouldnt we also test the option of large nbew cities in a plan?

Forty towns and cities in southern England must be doubled in size to deal with the country’s housing crisis, George Osborne’s new planning tsar has said.

A blueprint for ‘bold state action’ drawn up by Lord Adonis calls for thousands of acres of green belt to be concreted over for a new generation of ‘garden city’ extensions on existing towns.

In an article written just weeks before his appointment, he said central government should intervene to massively extend towns including Guildford, Norwich, Reading and Stratford-upon-Avon.

If carried out, Oxford – a city he specifically named – would shoot up from a population of 150,000 to 300,000.

Mr Osborne poached Lord Adonis, a former Labour Cabinet minister, earlier this week to be chairman of a new National Infrastructure Commission.

It is all part of a ‘war on the shires’ launched by the Chancellor in his Tory conference speech yesterday to fast-track infrastructure projects across Britain.

Mr Osborne said yesterday: ‘I’m not prepared to turn around to my children or indeed anyone else’s child, and say: I’m sorry we didn’t build for you.

‘We’re going to get many more homes built for families to buy… We’ve had enough of people who own their own home lecturing others why they can’t own one too.’

Lord Adonis was one of Labour’s leading political ‘thinkers’ during the Blair years. He was the architect of the academy schools programme, which has been accelerated by the Conservatives.

He outlined his vision for planning in an article for Prospect magazine, saying there were three ‘simple, if different’ reforms to solve the housing crisis.

‘First, local authorities in areas of housing shortage should be required by the state once again to become developers and place makers,’ he wrote.

‘Partly this will be about planning for far more housing and amenities on brownfield land where there is strong demand (particularly in London; partly it will be about new and expanded settlements, where environmental considerations need to be weighed with a view to action rather than inaction.

‘Local authorities need a new generation of public master planners and developers for this purpose.’

Lord Adonis went on to praise the work of urban designer David Rudlin, who has called for the significant extension of dozens of towns and cities in southern England.

He wrote: ‘Second, the state – central government – once again needs to take a lead by systematically planning new transport infrastructure to support new housing, and by becoming a planner of new settlements in its own right.

‘I am persuaded that the best course is to develop “garden city” extensions to successful existing new towns and cities in areas of high housing and employment demand, rather than developing entirely new towns like Milton Keynes, on the model advocated by David Rudlin, the urban designer who last year won the Wolfson prize for his work on tackling England’s housing shortage.

‘Rudlin proposed doubling the size of 40 towns and cities with good existing infrastructure and public transport connections which could be further enhanced, including Oxford, Guildford, Norwich, Reading and Stratford-upon-Avon.’

His third reform is a new requirement on local authorities to use more of its public land for housing.

‘It is bold state action – central and local government leading development in partnership with the private and voluntary sectors, not abdicating its responsibilities to them – which will resolve the housing crisis,’ he said

‘With its vast ownership of land, and its powers to plan, develop, and finance, government can get the job done, and it has no one else to blame for inaction.’

Lord Adonis called for a return to the type of centrally-directed housebuilding seen between the end of the Second World War and the mid-1970s.

‘The collapse in housebuilding has largely been a function of the withdrawal of the state and local authorities from planning and developing new settlements since the mid-1970s, including new towns,’ he wrote.

‘The scale of the housebuilding shortfall is stark. More than 200,000 new homes a year are required to keep pace with household formation, at last 40,000 of them in London.

‘In the immediate postwar decades, cenral government not only funded and encouraged local authorities to become developers, it was also a significant developer in its own right, through new towns and major urban extensions.

‘From Stevenage in 1946 to Milton Keynes in 1967, the state developed nearly 30 new towns and major urban extensions, mostly in southern England.’


Lord Adonis to Become the National ‘Superplanner’


George Osborne will pledge to “shake Britain out of its inertia” by handing decisions on building billions of pounds worth of new airports, roads, homes and power stations to an independent commission chaired by a former Labour cabinet minister.

In a significant blow for Jeremy Corbyn, the Chancellor will announce thatLord Adonis, the former Transport Secretary, is quitting his party to chair a new National Infrastructure Commission

Mr Osborne will use his speech to say that the new independent body will “dispassionately” decide what Britain “needs to build for its future”.

He will say: “Where would Britain be if we had never built railways or runways, power stations or new homes? Where will we be in the future if we stop building them now?

“I’m not prepared to turn round to my children – or indeed anyone else’s child – and say: I’m sorry, we didn’t build for you.

“We have to shake Britain out of its inertia on the projects that matter most.

Mr Osborne’s infrastructure commission will report at the beginning of every Parliament and say exactly what the Government should be building.

It will be set up in law and will work out “calmly and dispassionately what the country needs to build for its future and holds any Government’s feet to the fire if it fails to deliver”, Mr Osborne will say.

Sources said it is an attempt to take on “Nimbys” – many of whom are traditional Conservative supporters – and dramatically speed up stalled building projects.

As part of the plans, planning rules will be scrapped to make it easier to build on brownfield land.

Some questions – will this be the first step towards a ‘national plan’ or simply a body that acts as a bully pull pit for infrastructure without a plan.  That is something that states what is needed without any mandate to research where it is needed.

The model seems to be the airports commission.

What linkages will there be if any with statutory plans?

Will it have a mandate to deal with issues raised under the duty to cooperate?

What linkages will there be if any with national infrastructure policy statements?

The move is encouraging, Lord Adonis is the right man for the job, and the first major step out of nimbyism.  But as ever is poorly joined up and needs to be done properly through legislation (as is planned) and to ensure accountability through parliaments, and linkages to the devolution agenda.

As ever Osbornes blind spot is his instinctive anti-planning so he doesn’t recognise when he is proposing more of it.

Douglas Carswell Planning Policy has made Jaywick Britains Most Deprived Place

Douglas Carswell MP on the release of the mutliple derivation stats making Kaywick Britains most deprived place

Responding to today’s report, Carswell said the Jaywick neighbourhood would continue to spiral without action from local and central government. He said: “People in Jaywick have been let down by big government and official planning restrictions that have prevented any significant new housing investment for 40 years. Until planning rules are liberalised and capital can be invested in Jaywick, the downward spiral will continue.”

Carswell added that he had lobbied government and the council to introduce minimum housing standards for people on benefits. “Thanks to government policy, we are subsidising squalor,” he said.

The planning restriction being that the whole area is at risk of coatal innundation.  There have been studies over the years looking at wholesale redevelopment and building up on higher land but none have proven economic.

Is Carswell right, of course he is you cant knock down the bungaloid shacks and rebuild.

The whole area is begging to be bought up, Basildon Shackland styles, and be turned over to a (resident owned) development corporation.  It should be used as a model for other communities needing to be relocated because of climate change, with transferable development rights to other higher rural land that would not otherwise be redeveloped.

‘Piggyback Homes’ Plan Will Add 1 Years Supply to London at Best and Wont Prevent Overspill Need

Darren Johnson has been researching the potential for densifying low story London Council Estates.  A solution Mayoral Candidate Zac Goldsmith claims could prevent loss of green Belt.

His research shows potential for around 50,000 units in London, if 1 in 3 such estates are developed.

Important but just 1 years supply.  20 odd other similar measures are needed.

Warwickshire – Faking the Duty to Cooperate and Breaching European Law

I find it very nteresting that the MoU for Warwickshire has been subject to SEA – so its a strategy then err no…

Is there a joint Spatial Strategy for Coventry and Warwickshire? No. The merits of different spatial approaches have been assessed and are set out in appendix 3. However this does not form part of the MoU and it has been an important principle underpinning the preparation of the MoU that the “sovereignty” of each Council to prepare a local plan according to a locally derived spatial strategy must be adhered to. The MoU therefore sets out the quantum of housing to be delivered by each authority, but does not constrain the spatial strategy to provide this housing.

So having appraised they state this does not form part of the MoU”’not for a minute lawful as this contravenes article’s 8 & 9 2001/42/EC as the MoU says its findings ‘does not form part of the MoU.

So we have a non strategy that sets out a distribution of land uses without any coherence i terms of connectivity which the SEA says is crucial to ensuring sustainability.  Given the massive overspill both from Brum and Coventry this is a crazy, chaotic and unlawful way to deliberately not do strategic planning and to fake the duty to cooperate.

Pumped up Commodity Collateral Has Masked Lack of Liquidity in Fragile Emerging Markets


the IMF said market liquidity, or the ease with which investors can quickly buy or sell securities without shifting their price, was “prone to sudden evaporation”, particularly in bond markets, when the Federal Reserve started to raise interest rates.

It said a steady growth environment and “extraordinarily accommodative monetary policies” around the world had helped to maintain a “high level” of liquidity. However, it warned that this was not the same as “resilient” liquidity that could support markets in time of stress.

How can this fragility have arisen?

Of course QE has not added to global liquidity as it has been an asset swap.  Those assets were swapped for reserves however and some spilled over as excess reserves and in liquid form – they were more liquid in the hierarchy of money.  In the absence of explicit fiscal expansion companies needed to leverage this relatively narrow liquidity expansion to assuage their need to acquire safe assets.  This leverage is a function of principal and collateral.  By spending excess reserves on  commodities, often in emerging markets and puffed up by Chinese demand, they were able to leverage lending to purchase bonds – ‘safe assets’.  Hence a narrow expansion of liquidity is expanded many fold through complex collateral chains on bank lending.  The most notorious examples being the rolls of copper in Qindao port used many times to back loans.  Hence the failure to expand properly the money supply after the financial crisis stole the potential for the next one.

Margin calls are now forcing commodity traders to liquidate commodities, which will send the prices down and reduce the value of collateral.  Many companies may be technically insolvent in ‘mark to market’ terms.  If lenders panic it could trigger a balence sheet recession.

The Next London Mayor Must Get Serious on Londons Capacity

Zac Goldsmith in the Telegraph

We need to ramp up our efforts to meet these housing challenges. And to do that, we need to consider planning, land and finance. Planning is a political problem, solved by a mayor working with local authorities.

There is no shortage of land. For one thing, a large portion of the Fifties and Sixties housing estates in London are reaching the end of their lives. There are 3,500 such estates in the capital: if only a fraction were redeveloped to produce low-rise, high-density streetscapes we would generate enough new housing to cater for our needs for many years. It would take time, and existing communities would need to be thoroughly on-board and protected.

But that’s just a start. The Mayor and Government have launched a land commission for London, to identify all publicly owned brownfield land. It is expected to uncover vast swaths of the capital that could be developed. We know, for example, that Transport for London alone owns the equivalent of 16 Hyde Parks.

Of course everyone says there is ‘more then enough’ bownfield land ‘ if only we can unlock it’ – the ability to get serious about unlocking it is a mark of whether you want to solve the housing crisis or merely make it worse by postponing tough decisions.

Take the Land Commission – the government should have been doing this for years through the National Land Use Database, and the fact that land is publicly owned does not mean it is suitable, available or viable.  Take the Tfl landholding, few public bodies are doing more to sweat their estate.  Their is no magical hidden capacity here just tracks, depots sidings and stations in the main.  Like everyone else who studies it there is capacity there but not enough.

More promising is the post war estates.  Again when studied in detail they will dissappoint.  These are mostly wartime bomb sites and so small other than in the carpet bombed areas of south central and East London.   To redevelop areas of four storey housing you’ll be looking at 9-12 stormy development to be viable and probably 15 if you have to include sub basement parking to accommodate the extra units.  Hardly ‘low rise’  those Boroughs that are trying to do this, like Lambeth with the Cottomore Estate, are facing massive political opposition and charges of social clensing.  Without a massively publicly subsidise and centrally government subsidised bulldozer this will only at best deliver a few thousand extra units, and in the short run demolition driven strategies reduce capacity.

It is deeply dissappointing that London unlike every other major city in the UK is not having a mature and evidence driven debate about how much its housing need is and how much of it will overspill.  Largely because the Mayor of London is unique in not being bound by the discipline of a binding inspectors report requiring their plan to be sound.  When the new Mayor produces their revised London plan I expect to see a costed, programmed and outlines on a map programme for which sites are to be redeveloped at higher densities and where.  If not hes or she will just be adding to London’s housing backlog.

Clark in Historic U Turn over War with Housing Associations

Over the summer the government – and in particular George Osborne – has been gearing up for a fight with housing associations over the right to buy.  The government even seemed ready to take HA debt into the public sector and be ready to sell off high value social housing to fund the scheme.  There were numerous briefings to the Times about how inefficient housing assocations were.  It seemed they were being set up to have their assets confiscated.

Yet for a government that wants to build homes kiasboshing the sector capable of filling the gap between private sector house building and need seemed odd.  Instead the state would have to set up and subsidise an entire new third sector.  It was crazy.

And so the government has realized in now accepting the alternative plan proposed by David Orr of the Nat Fed.

In his speech yesterday to the Nat Fed Greg Clark set a target of one million new homes over 5 years.  He then candidly set out the policy choice.

I’ll be completely candid, there are some who say that to achieve the transformation we need requires a fresh start – that the housing association sector has taken us so far but might not be the right partner for the future.

That the energy and appetite for rapid and creative development is not what it was. That in truth the sector’s heart is in developing properties for rent, and little zeal for developing homes for home ownership.

That a once insurgent movement has become staid – with development too low and executive salaries too high.

That for the transformation in housing we seek we should look elsewhere. To councils through the devolution agenda, to private developers, to our own agencies in government and to new entities.

But there is another view: that this is a sector that has scored big successes over many years. That can be agile and adaptable to the changing opportunities and requirements of our nation. A sector that has always been respectful of the mandate of that successive governments have had.

That deep in the DNA of this sector is an instinct to empower and give opportunities to people, going beyond the strict business of building and renting out homes. And that the devolution agenda, putting local communities in the driving seat is an unmissable opportunity for associations who know their communities inside out often better than most other people in those communities.

A view that this is a sector which is a standing army of expertise, motivation and experience, capable of building hundreds of thousands of new homes that our country so desperately needs.

So two contrasting views: Be content with the achievements of the past – or look to build and to own a new future.

And the choice between them will determine the very future of the housing association movement.

My unambiguos opinion is that this sector’s future lies with the second option.

The Orr plan now makes HA right to buy ‘voluntary’ with the same kind of restrictions (such as in rural areas) as council house RTB.  There will be a ‘1 for 1’ replacement policy (yeah right) with gap funding so they get built sooner (acknowledging 1 for 1 wasnt working).

The government has backed away from a fight which would onl;y have seen less homes built, but you also get the sense that an historic opportunity to rebuild a third sector capable of building 1 million new homes over 5 years has been missed.  The target has been announced but the policy only applies to replacement homes, there is no policy announcements on how we will bridge the current gap between private sector buildings and the 250.000 annum need.