United Kingdom

The Drive-It-Yourself Taxi: A Smooth Ride?

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Despite a corporate sponsor that paid handsomely for the naming rights, Londoners stubbornly refer to our bikesharing system as ‘Boris Bikes’, in a nod to our colourful Mayor, Boris Johnson. But what will we call our new drive-it-yourself taxis? My suggestion: ‘Boris Cabs’ – and they are now a reality here, thanks to Daimler’s car2go service, if you happen to live in one of three small and separate sections of town. But why did a one-way carsharing system have to limp into London, when more than a dozen other cities have welcomed these arrangements with open arms? In the US, car2go first appeared in Austin, Texas, and since then has moved into Washington, D.C, Miami, Portland Oregon, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle. It operates in Canada  read more »

Postwar Prefabs: Britain's Factory-Made Palaces

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After the financial crisis of 2008, much of Great Britain's construction industry capacity was wiped out. Now, in 2012, there is much fear that the “traditional” construction industry is too weak to rapidly increase the rate of housing production, even if the administrative planning system wanted it to. Which it doesn’t.  read more »

Housing: How Capitalism and Planning Can Co-Habit

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Did Britain’s New Labour party conspire against land development? Is it responsible for outdated, “socialist” land planning policies?

The British Conservative Party’s favourite think tank, Policy Exchange, would have us think so. Its latest report aims to demonstrate that the British planning system is socialist rather than capitalist. Why Aren’t We Building Enough Attractive Homes? - Myths, misunderstandings and solutions, by Alex Morton takes on the British planning system that dates from the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act.  read more »

Gentrification? Brixton's Angell Town Story

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In the US, urban planners talk about the 'redevelopment' of a neighborhood. In the UK, 'regeneration' is heard more often. What is the difference, from both the planner and the resident perspective? Are they both synonyms for 'gentrification'? Angell Town , a UK 'estate' in Brixton — it would be called a 'public housing project' by Americans — provides a good example of how these questions are answered in practice.  read more »

London’s Social Cleansing

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Unscrupulous landlords are forcing poorer tenants out of their London homes, freeing them up to rent out to visitors to the Olympics this summer, according to the housing charity Shelter. At the same time, the government’s cap on rent subsidies (Housing Benefits) for those out of work or on low incomes threaten to force less well-off tenants out of the capital. Newham Mayor Sir Robin Wales says that they will have to move people as far afield as Stoke-on-Trent if they are to meet their obligations to house the homeless.  read more »

World Urban Areas Population and Density: A 2012 Update

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The latest edition of Demographia World Urban Areas has just been released. The publication includes population estimates, urban land area estimates and urban densities for all nearly 850 identified urban areas in the world with a population of 500,000 or more. These urban areas account for approximately 48% of the world's urban population. Overall, data is provided for approximately 1500 urban areas, comprising approximately 1.9 billion people, or 52% of the world's urban population.  read more »

Welcome Back, Britain! Why The U.K. Doesn't Need The E.U.

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To some, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to demur from the new euro rescue plan has made the U.K. irrelevant on the world scene. Yet by moving away from the euro zone, Cameron did something more than reaffirm Britain’s opposition to a German-led Europe: He asserted Britain’s greater, historically grounded legacy as the center of the Anglophone world.  read more »

It's Not the 1980s in Britain Anymore

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Britain’s public sector workers came out on a one day strike last week over government plans to raid their pension funds. Government ministers did the rounds of television studios denouncing the strikers as mindless militants. Both sides are echoing the class struggles of the Thatcher-era, but the truth is that it’s not the 1980s.  read more »

UK Moves to Reform Planning Disaster

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This piece originally appeared at Macrobusiness.

The United Kingdom (UK) housing system is arguably the worst in the world because of a myriad of policies that work to severely restrict supply, pump demand, and make renting a highly undesirable substitute for home ownership. These policies have led to the UK housing market experiencing:  read more »

Are 20th Century Models Relevant to 21st Century Urbanization?

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Analysis of the state of the world’s cities 2010/2011 by UN-Habitat focused on the narrowing urban divide, with 227 million people moving out of slum conditions over the preceding decade.  While acknowledging uncertainty over cause and effect, the report notes that:  read more »