Recently in Regeneration Category
Barely is the ink dry on the long awaited planning reforms of the Coalition government with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), when this week the Chancellor instigated further changes in order to boost economic growth. Supported by Cameron and Clegg et al., we also witnessed a concerted attack on the planning profession with, seemingly, a renewed appetite to make planners the scapegoat for the economy's woes. At Birmingham School of the Built Environment at Birmingham City University we pride ourselves on training the next generation of built and natural environment professionals, equipping them with the skills to mediate between the competing demands of people, place and environment. One module I manage is called Policies and Plans. This uses theory and practice to identify what constitutes a 'good' plan or policy. The recent package of anti-planning reforms announced this week provide an interesting example for this blog
Last week I took the government's advice and had a holiday in the UK. It was a week away on the Pembrokeshire Coast doing a combination of coastal walking, swimming and wildlife watching. Wearing my tourist hat it has always amazed me how tourism as an industry has such a poor profile as an agent of economic growth, yet ironically it is one of the world's biggest industries and is vital for UK PLC. In the UK we have a truly amazing range of environmental assets that bring people from all over the world to explore our magical Isles. It may also surprise you to know we also have high quality assets on our own West Midland doorstep.
A leading planning academic at Borsetshire City University has expressed grave concerns over the planning processes used to assess the Mega Dairy proposal at Home Farm by Borsetshire Land by Brian Aldridge.
"The proposal clearly has not followed the proper legal channels opening up the way for a legal challenge to the local government ombudsman whatever the ultimate planning decision. This would result in considerable legal fees against the council at a time of unprecedented cutbacks in council spending".
This blog is the second of four which relate to my recent panel appearance on 26th January in the Great Regional Debate sponsored by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI). This brought together experts from RTPI, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, Royal Institute of British Architects, Institution of Civil Engineers and the Landscape Institute. This blog focuses on a question put by Dan Roberts of Lichfield District Council
Do panel members feel that HS2 will contribute to or counteract a West Midlands 'brain drain'? And why?
Hark the Select Committee Angels Sing: Planning Reforms need significant rewriting
Christmas has come early for those of us who care about the planning system in England.
The Select Committee has published their report on the government proposed National Planning Policy Framework and in their 81 pages of critical analysis they confirm that the NPPF is not fit for purpose.
- The NPPF was short but vague leading to uncertainty and ambiguity
- The definition of sustainable development presented was inadequate as it was based on economic development
- The default answer to development being yes was misplaced.
- The golden thread of sustainable development was not suitable for decision making as it was too vague
- The lack of a town centre first and brown field first policies were leading to increased pressures on greenfield sites
- The attacks on planners as the enemies of enterprise were found to be baseless with no evidence to support allegations that planning inhibited growth or development.
The recommendations focus attention on the local plan as the decision making tool for sustainable development with the ability to tweak and adapt this to the local situation where there is clear evidence to do so.
The Centre for Cities report : University Challenge: Growing the knowledge economy in Birmingham was published yesterday. It's a disconcerting read, shaking what the city believes about itself.
Now that the government has finally found enough money to allow the ÃÂ£600 million refurbishment of New Street Station and the Pallasades shopping centre to proceed it is time to stop pretending that this project will do very much to improve the passenger experience on trains running through Birmingham.
As Lord Adonis, the Transport Minister, has admitted, the hugely expensive makeover for New Street will not actually improve the capacity of the track and tunnels to cope with growing customer demand for more services.
Crucially, it will prove almost impossible to bring the next generation of high speed trains either to New Street or to Moor Street, according to Adonis.
There can be no doubt that alarm bells are ringing loudly at Birmingham Council House, given the very real possibility that Warwickshire County Cricket Club's application for a ÃÂ£32 million makeover of its Edgbaston stadium will be rejected by the city planning committee.
You know things are serious when council strategic director of regeneration Clive Dutton emerges from the shadows to take control.
Dutton, who is as close to council leader Mike Whitby as it is possible to be, took the unusual step of emailing councillors and MPs to tell them the cricket club had submitted an amended application for Edgbaston scaling down proposals for hotels and leisure-based development.
Warwickshire County Cricket club's attempt to get planning permission for a ÃÂ£32 million refurbishment and expansion of the Edgbaston test match ground represents a text book example of how not to go about selling a controversial scheme to the local community.
All too often over the past year club officials have appeared completely removed from the fears of people living close to the ground, intent only on hammering home the message that preserving Birmingham's status as a test match venue, and the money this will trigger for the local economy, trumps all concerns about traffic, noise and the glare from the five huge floodlight towers that are being proposed.
Birmingham City Council missed a trick by deciding to reveal the long-awaited design for the Centenary Square library on April 2.
If only the previous day had been chosen, we'd have understood it was meant to be an amusing practical joke.
I mean, why on earth lump six glass blocks of varying sizes on top of each other and then encase the bizarre edifice with a cage of steel circles?
You might, just might, get away with it on an isolated larger site, but next to the 1930s splendour of Baskerville House - it's going to be an architectural atrocity, a mistake of monumental proportions which could achieve the seemingly impossible by making us look back fondly at the brutalism of the existing Central Library and conclude that they really knew how to design public buildings in the 1960s.
It's been a while since my last post and the hiatus isn't because of a lack of things to write about - in fact it's quite the opposite! Too much going on can actually reduce the number of blog posts that you produce, especially with fun new services like Twitter to play with.
So. To reintroduce some of my ideas back into the Post Blog I'm changing format for the moment at least, accepting that I'm just very busy and going with the following:
It's an interesting question and one that is never really answered. Over the next few articles I'll be looking at some of the issues that the city is going to be facing and some of the creative and innovative approaches that we could look at to solve the city's problems, increase our quality of life and generally make us a better and more respected part of the world.
I've been living here for over ten years, so no, I'm not 'born and bred'. But having lived here for that time I've realised that actually there seem to be a lot of people just like me around - who want to have a say in how the city's changing and can look at the place with fresh eyes. So that's the perspective I offer - good or bad.
The Big City Plan
Blogging on the Birmingham Post site I hope I'll be able to air a few of my opinions, especially because I'm getting something of an insider's-eye-view of "The Big City Plan" that launched this week.