The riots that hit London and other English cities last week have the potential to spread beyond the British Isles. Class rage isn’t unique to England; in fact, it represents part of a growing global class chasm that threatens to undermine capitalism itself. read more »
Suggestions that we can grow the Auckland, NZ economy by encouraging business into the central business district (CBD) in the interests of innovation do not reflect the weight of experience. Sure, higher order professions have tended to concentrate there, and become relatively more important as manufacturing, retailing, and distribution have decamped. And in Auckland, at least, tertiary education has become a major player in the CBD. University employment has boosted the scientific as well as education sector. read more »
A high speed rail battle is brewing in Great Britain, not unlike the controversies that have lit up the political switchboard in the United States over the past six months.
The Department for Transport has announced a plan to build a "Y" shaped high speed rail route that would connect Leeds and Manchester, to Birmingham, with a shared line on to London and London's Heathrow Airport. read more »
British house construction has remained at a low level for a decade. Total new house and flat completions for all tenures last year were 113,670 for England, 17,470 for Scotland, and 6,170 for Wales. Excluding Northern Ireland that is 137,310 for Britain. Under 140,000 homes a year is low for a nation of 60 million.
We are nearly at the lowest level of housing production since reliable records began in the 1920s. (Note 1) read more »
Throughout much of history, cities have served as incubators for upward mobility. A great city, wrote René Descartes in the 17th century, was “an inventory of the possible,” a place where people could lift their families out of poverty and create new futures. In his time, Amsterdam was that city, not just for ambitious Dutch peasants and artisans but for people from all over Europe. Today, many of the world’s largest cities, in both the developed and the developing world, are failing to serve this aspirational function. read more »
Economists, planners and the media often focus on the extremes of real estate — the high-end properties or the foreclosed deserts, particularly in the suburban fringe. Yet to a large extent, they ignore what is arguably the most critical issue: affordability. read more »
This week the UK government announced an ”end to anti-car policies” reversing the guidance to local authorities to dissuade citizens from using their cars in favour of public transport. Charges for parking will be reined in, they promise.
It should be good news. The comically-named ”traffic calming” schemes put in place by the outgoing government were deeply unpopular. Still, we are getting used to taking our announcements from the new coalition government with a pinch of salt. read more »
With the rising tide of terrorist threats across Europe, one can somewhat understandably expect a surge in Islamophobia across the West. Yet in a contest to see which can be more racist, one would be safer to bet on Europe than on the traditional bogeyman, the United States.
One clear indicator of how flummoxed Europeans have become about diversity were the remarks last week by German Chancellor Angela Merkel saying that multi-culturalism has “totally failed” in her country, the richest and theoretically most capable of absorbing immigrants. “We feel tied to Christian values,” the Chancellor said. “Those who don’t accept them don’t have a place here.” read more »
The British Broadcasting Corporation wants 1500 of its staff to move to its new ”MediaCity” headquarters in Salford, near Manchester in northwest England. The Corporation, they say with some justification, is too southern, too much part of the metropolitan elite. The move ”addresses concerns that the organisation is not fully representative of the peoples of the UK.”
On the surface it looks like a good deal. On top of a £5000 payment, they have been offered £350 for each house-hunting journey as well as removal costs, a guaranteed house purchase scheme and and even £3,000 for new carpets and curtains. Other benefits include help securing jobs for spouses or partners jobs in the area and specialist help with children's schooling. read more »
(Part I of II.) The writer Ford Madox Ford summarised the inventiveness of the early twentieth century in an essay The Future of London (1909) by lambasting what he called the “tyranny of the past.” “The future,” he argued on the other hand, wages a ceaseless war against the monuments of the past’.
This debate is alive today in the battle between the emerging metropolitan reality and the nostalgia of the urban past. Ford’s dream was of a Great London ‘… not of seven, but of seventy-million imperially minded people’. read more »