10 April was the deadline for comments on the new London Plan. The Just Space web site has been active with preparations and now carries (22 and counting) documents submitted by activist groups and individuals. It’s pretty strong stuff, on the whole, and I hope someone will start summarising it all soon. My interim attempt is on the front page of the JS site now but I hope it will be superseded soon. The main Just Space submission runs to 53 pages and is a very serious and detailed critique, edited together by Richard Lee. Read the rest of this entry »
This post is a quick paste-up of material I prepared for yesterday when I was invited to participate as a guest in the Committee’s first consideration of the Further Alterations to the London Plan FALP. It is not exactly what I said because I wasn’t able to get all the points made, but there will be a webcast and perhaps a transcript later . Michael Bach from the London Forum was also a guest and he made many very strong and some overlapping points. I hope he’ll agree to his text going online too. Comprehensive summary in the Twitter stream of Myfanwy Taylor.
The Committee had prepared some questions (shown in bold). Read the rest of this entry »
UCL is giving me a Lifetime Achievement Award as part of its annual awards for “Public Engagement”. The award takes place at 1830h on Tuesday 28th January 2014 when this post should become visible. They don’t have acceptance speeches at these ceremonies so this is the closest I can get. Read the rest of this entry »
20 January 2014 addition: the new Plan is now out. To find it and to follow the story and debates go to the Just Space site http://wp.me/P3WY0O-y I may, though, add some personal observations on the end of this post.
10 December 2013: I keep having to respond to questions about what the big issues will be when the next London Plan appears for consultation in January. This is an attempt to write it down systematically. So far it is a purely personal statement and if any of it gets adopted by JustSpace or others then I’ll tell you. And it’s a draft with data and references to be added. Thinking aloud. Read the rest of this entry »
9 December 2013: This message has come in today from Grischa in Berlin:
Dear international friends,
on November 21st we had an event in Berlin with Eileen Short from Defend Council Housing / Anti bedroom tax campaign and Paul Watt from Birkbeck University, both situated in London.
They told us about the housing crisis in England and the biggest anti-cut protests since many years against the bedroom tax. We have documented the event in both English and German, find the links below: Read the rest of this entry »
28 Oct 2013 Interesting Twitter exchange just now, started by Tom Neumark (see screenshot below), needs more than 140 character response. [Later: his blog has a longer version and I hadn't connected it before. ]
The way people relate to housing and to the financial relationships which now govern so much of it is very fragmented: outright owners and established mortgage-payers gaining from price growth; new buyers maybe struggling and very exposed to interest-rate increases, especially if they have high LTV; frustrated would-be-buyers priced out; private tenants suffering under rents which in SE and some other places are extremely high with quality often very poor; social tenants finding their rents being jacked up to “affordable” levels, and in many places subject now to eviction/’decanting’ to make way for private development; homelessness and overcrowding booming; rumours of extensive vacant dwellings in London; loads of under-occupation (see previous post). Read the rest of this entry »
13 Oct 2013 This is an argument I keep having with people, so here it is for reference:
There is certainly a lot of under-occupation in the English housing stock: not much in privately-rented units but a lot in the owner-0ccupied and social rented sectors. This wastes family-sized dwellings occupied by singles and couples who neither need nor want so much space. Read the rest of this entry »
Asked to write a very short introduction for a special issue on the UK of a German tenants’ magazine Mieter Echo. This has actually been very hard to do and I’m nervous about their response. This is what I sent them:
Background to housing in the UK
It is always very hard to make sense of the housing situation in another country because the social relations surrounding housing and land everywhere incorporate historical legacies which we take for granted. Read the rest of this entry »
[24 August 2013 This post may—subject to other people's comments—end up on the JustSpace website but at the moment is just my own first rather rushed comment on the situation. Thanks to Robin Brown for some corrections/improvements 25 August.]
The Mayor of London published in 2012 some alterations he wanted to make to the 2011 London Plan, mainly to bring it into line with the coalition government’s National Planning Policy Framework. Just Space and many others responded to the consultation about these changes and then took part in hearings (Examination in Public -EiP) last autumn [ Earlier post on the EiP ]. The Inspector who held the hearings said he expected to report in January 2013 but his report was long delayed… (Eventually we may find out why). The Mayor rejects outright the Inspector’s main proposed change but our arguments failed to persuade even the Inspector on the central issue: that housing policy should prioritise the worsening needs of low- and middle-income Londoners. If the Mayor gets his way, the priority will be maximum output of housing units in total and, within that, of “affordable” rented units with rents at 65-80% of market rent levels. Read the rest of this entry »