LSE seminar on London housing supply

December 10th, 2014

The trouble with Twitter is it stops me blogging. So for a change here are some notes from a seminar at LSE under HEIF5 today 10 December 2014.  Tony Travers introduction, Nancy Holman summary of how complicated everything is.

[earlier a reminiscence session with Tim Skelton, a retired surveyor who worked for MKDC from 1979 and is writing a book on MK, trying to catch us oldies before we die.  I seem to be one of the few who has memories going back through the whole master planning period.  may add some notes on that.]

Speakers Cheshire, Tonkiss, Hamnett,Negrini (ex Newham, now Croydon LB) Lammy.

Cheshire No way 42,000 pa will be built. Need is for 49,000pa + backlog of 500,000.

London is very green

Buildings over 100m high, 7 per 000 pop cf other figures…..  Benidorm is top.

Has slide of conservation areas in London + view corridors. Thus scatter of towers.Green belt stops building out; planning controls stop us building up. Thus housing crisis is due to policy failure.

Fran Tonkiss  sociologist, LSE London

Green belt, yes.  But want to stress:

(i) supports mixed economy of supply – mixed suppliers and tenure forms- we have lost this. Mayor’s”Housing Zones” an interesting institutional form of procurement (sic).

(ii) avoid tradeoff between timeliness and design quality

(iii) land arching on large sites to get more developers,more competition, variety. [I would have expected her to say it would help build-out speed but she doesn't.]

(iv) Clearer stronger direction form LAs on affordability and design quality.

Chris Hamnett geographer, King’s

Disagrees that planning system is the root cause. Mentions developers’ tendency to trickle their completion we should time-limit permissions.  Battersea pass-the-parcel between developers. Refers to key role of public-sector development in peak years of output 60s and 70s. Shows a version of the standard graph (but for UK). [This is rather dull, ordinary, familiar]. Public sector land release. Bicester useful. How about Northolt? Development for whom? Refers to Sutana of Quatar merging 3 houses into 1 in Cornwall Terrace. Scotland Yard…

 Jo Negrini, Croydon LB (previously Newham I think )

Hs everybody been to Croydon?  Did you like it? Tammy waves like mad. Affordability is key issue. Croydon biggest, has most golf courses, some poverty. We are building but it’s crap: in one PD deveoplemnt in Wellesley Road the smallest unit is 14m2.  What about the losses of jobs? 700 homeless families, huge waiting list, Home Office generates themp housing demands. Benefit cap hits us. We are intervening, and actively.  Need money for that, as RSL grant shrinks. They have done development appraisals on every site so they can INSIST on the viability of social housing every block. We are being aggressive with acquisition. We use our CPO powers, sometimes to help private assemble sites. We can build at 2% profit instead of the 20% developers want, we can borrow much cheaper than them.

David Lammy (politician, LabourMP + candidate for Mayor)

High % of graduates, well able to befit from London. But lots of Londoners can’t. Gap widening. FBS important for growth but not that many jobs. So much retail; crap jobs; sub-living-wages disastrous.  Private sector has never delivered the housing London needs and never will.  LSE should come out in support for public funding… Figures even worse than the output figures suggest because of the losses through RtB. Should we create a secondary market with public building for sale, reclaiming a share of capital gain on resale.  Need also to grow shared ownership where people can get a stake. Assets matter. Be careful on design and space standards. Most families don’t want to be on 20th floor with dead lifts. And we must have rent caps.

Cheshire: planning system is root of problem. Land price. Land supply (cf NL and D). Golf courses.  Tonkiss planning system too flexible. Negrini: need to tool up planning offices so they negotiate better: every planner should be able to understand a development appraisal. And we set up an investment fund and pension funds now keen to join in. (Lammy pats her, says “new heard of housing atGLA” (lard).  Lammy says need super-planners, like super heads in schools.

Stephen Hill: look at where the land supply came from: public land supply .  Limited equity product better than shared equity.   Peter Eversden fierce on disaster of PDR. Even laundrettes.

[some lost bits - LSE wifi switched to Cloud]

Lett: how about 400,000 / ha at well-connected points.

Lammy: stayed out of shadow cabinet to protect freedom to speak. Lyons review too modest. London which contributes so much GDP, so much migration pressure from rest of UK.  Mood will change as millennial get older. Labour Party not committed to having more LA borrowing. He’s too much Treasury. Country becoming ungovernable with 5 parties.

Negrini.  I’m so OVER big regeneration schemes. Just the rumour of a scheme brings owners to the table in Croydon. Big old regen schemes not an answer. Break down into small schemes.  Cheshire: planning system so wasteful in the energy which goes into circumventing it.

Peter Hall #3 remembered by Nick Jeffrey

October 21st, 2014

This text arrived on 21 October 2014 from Nick Jeffrey who has agreed to it being posted here. Some observations from the celebration  of Peter Hall on 22 October are on Twitter at #peterhall

Peter Hall was a grand teacher.

I was one of the first dozen of Peter’s planning students and completed the MScEcon (Planning Studies) at LSE. I still teach there as an Associate, leading MSc Planning students, as well as first year Geography and Environment students on fieldwork across Docklands.

That initial course in Regional and Urban Planning Studies was pioneering both within planning education and within the LSE. It was taught jointly with the departments of Geography and Economics (Alan Day) and government (Peter Self). 1967/68 was the first and only full year Peter taught the course.  I understood that the initiative for the course came from Emrys Jones and he recruited Peter Hall to put it together and lead it. Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Hall #2

September 13th, 2014

I was asked to write a piece on Peter Hall for the (now mainly online) journal Planning in London (ePiL).  This is what I sent in.

Professor Sir Peter Hall died at the end of July after a short illness.  As befits one of the heroes and popularisers of planning at a global scale, obituaries have been appearing in a steady stream and more are surely to come.  This memorial note does not seek to run over the ground so ably covered in the best of these, some of which are listed at the end.

This note is simply an appreciation of Peter Hall’s contribution to the planning of London – and probably an incomplete one. Those who can add to the narrative are urged to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Peter Hall

August 2nd, 2014

Peter Hall died a few days ago and I’m trying here to crystallise my experience of him while it’s in my mind, recording fragments and interpretations which could feed in to any discussion of how we evaluate him, or into any biography anyone writes. Read the rest of this entry »

New London Plan: responses

April 13th, 2014

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 »

new London Plan: Assembly Planning Committee

February 26th, 2014

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 »

Winning an award

January 28th, 2014

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 »

The next (2014) London Plan

December 10th, 2013

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   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 »

UK – German housing exchanges

December 9th, 2013

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 »

Housing, a quick note

October 28th, 2013

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 »