The coming crisis and London planning

Did a seminar yesterday in the LSE geography department’s London series. My talk was a modification of what I did in Berlin (below) and it seemed to generate quite a good discussion – not least because Ian Gordon, Duncan Bowie and Paul Cheshire were active.  The slide show here for those who want to see it  – edwardslselondon09 and you can find it on the lse London site, apparently.

My presentation was not good enough.  in particular it somehow lost its edge in the transition from global level to the London material.  Ian pointed out that the initial attention to crisis did not follow through in an analysis of what the crisis is in the specific case of London. (He’s very charming and firm.)  So I have more to do on that.  There was some interesting exchange with Paul Cheshire about what to do on the land/housing/planning front.  He said dealing with the green belt was just a one-off and that a major long-run change was required in the planning system to liberalise land supply, including changing the incentives on local authorities so that they get financial benefit from saying yes… I replied (i) it’s not the planning system which is a problem but rather the policies pursued using the system. (I should have said that contryside protection was a class project but failed to do so.)  (ii) an unplanned ‘release’ of land would be very bad news in all sorts of ways and that we would need to plan to get the configurations right in relation to transport, jobs, etc; (iii) socialised land supply was essential (iv) incentives to LPAs hardly likely to work very well because of the tiny proportion of LA revenue raised locally in the UK. (I should have said that planning decisions should remain political, not incentivised financial…;  and think of southern Spain.  But I didn’t.)

On the question of land development trusts etc, I argued for a wide diversity of experiments on forms, and Duncan Bowie (otherwise very supportive) was critical on the grounds that land ownership should be securely within the LA to support optimal use / avoid self-interested behaviour.

Author: Editors


2 thoughts on “The coming crisis and London planning”

  1. Once again, may I suggest that your ideas need to reach a wider audience. They will not do so only through a Powerpoint presentation in the almost sealed bubble of academic seminars. Or even in professional journals.

    The experiment I propose may not succeed. But it’s worth a try using the net and video. Your talk which accompanied the slideshow could be adapted for a wider audience. And videoed – with critical questions – and edited to remove any tedious or repetitive bits.

    Perhaps you could add bits of video where you *show* people what’s happening – or not happening in Woodberry Down. (Or perhaps in our smaller scale Haringey areas where ‘regeneration’ has stopped.If it ever really happened)

    The wheels are wobbling very badly on the New Labour cart. But we have the possibility of once again building public housing. And provided it isn’t more high-rise Stonebridge and Broadwater Farm idiocy, nor allowed to rapidly turn into buy-to-hutch letting, there’s a chance to house some homeless people and to have a direct mpact on the overcrowding problem. And thereby have an indirect – but very real – impact on the educational and health prospects for some of the poorest people.

    Now really is the time to get your ideas into as many forums as possible. As a local (Labour) councillor I can assure you there’s a vacuum to be filled.

    Best wishes,



  2. Thanks for this support. I did try and send a text (post earlier in this blog) to the Guardian but they never used it. And I’m an acaedemic not a film maker!

    Did anyone go to the saturday session organised by Compass and others at Congress House on 24th Jan, with Doreen Massey and others about what to do in the London Context? I was away but that seemed like a place for spreading the word. I’ll try and get your email off the haringey web site. Michael


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