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Tuesday, 2 September 2014

The Difficulty of Mixed Housing

I thought I would come back to the importance of mixed housing that I discussed in an earlier post.  The Nye Bevan quote still puts the ideal position pretty well:

"It is entirely undesirable that on modern housing estates only one type of citizen should live. If we are to enable citizens to lead a full life, if they are each to be aware of the problems of their neighbours, then they should all be drawn from different sections of the community. We should try to introduce what was always the lovely feature of English and Welsh villages, where the doctor, the grocer, the butcher and the farm labourer all lived in the same street … the living tapestry of a mixed community."

It doesn't however, go through the full range of types we might want to expect.  We might want a variety in terms of:

  • Income distribution: That is the core of the Bevan quote, and what most people think of when they think of mixed housing.
  • Age groups:  It is desirable to include family accommodation whereas the market at the moment pushes very much to single bed flats.
  • Use classes: So that the public realm is used at different times for different purposes.  If an area becomes dominated simply by housing for example, the effect can be a dormitory town.
  • Different kinds of tenure (which may ovelap with different income types)

If you think of the practicalities of negotiating with a developer for all those different objectives, coupled with the fact that areas tend to develop piecemeal over a period of years, you can imagine why meeting them all in any given neighbourhood is no easy task.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Budget Debates

I see Camden is working through new ideas to bridge its budget gap over the next three years.  I am sure that not all of them are good.  In particular the increased advertising one has been mooted numerous times in Brent over the years, including a bizarre suggestion by Brent Liberal Democrats to surround Barham Park with advertising boards.  These have all fallen foul of planning objections.  They are also highly dependent on fluctuations in the market for advertising. 

Still at least, Camden is having a public debate.  Brent does not really seem to be addressing its more than £50 million gap at all.  Balancing the budget with those sort of cuts is going to inevitably involve difficult choices about political priorities, and the public deserve a clear explanation of what elected members political priorities are.  In earlier years, that would have been well developed by now, but at present I get a strong sense of drift.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Feynman Lectures on Physics

The Richard Feynman lectures on physics are now available online here.  It is said to be the most popular physics book ever written. 

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Legal Aid?

Rebekah Brooks is seeking court costs from her prosecution to be paid by the taxpayer.  Leaving aside my entire lack of sympathy for her in general, trials seem to be turning into a lottery.  For the taxpayer to shell out such huge sums will surely be a disincentive to high profile prosecutions in future, meaning that the wealthy become even less subject to the law than they are already.  Surely some kind of capping system for such fees needs to be devised?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Brent Passenger Transport Services: One To Watch

The recent Tri Borough attempts to reform transport for people with special needs has been reported to be disastrous.  Brent is also looking at this area through its One Council programme.  There is no need for reform to have the kind of serious effects that are claimed in Kensington and Chelsea.  It sounds as if the Triborough experiment went too much for quick financial savings, and paid too little heed to the standards of service.  The One Council methodology was designed to avoid this mistake.  Done rightly, it could help the users become more independent and do more for themselves.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Queens Park Design District

This design project, in Lonsdale Road in Queens Park, looks interesting.  I am not sure how far they are promoting the designs or the shops, but it is an imaginative approach.