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Archive for the ‘2005’ Category

A few weekends ago I had a bad day. As a Blackburn Rovers loving family we had driven down to Cardiff to watch them lose the FA Cup semi final against Arsenal. I don’t like driving at the best of time unless there are fantastic views and something good on the radio. This particular morose journey was made worse by a biased southern media on Radio 5 Live having an unfounded go at Rovers so called “bully boy” tactics and views of something that drives me to despair (despair is a destination that I often end up at when I drive), dozens of soulless new housing developments set in seas of black tarmac.

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I’ve nothing against tall buildings, I can fully appreciate architects and structural engineers after studying all those years whilst their brains are at their most fertile and their bodies at their strongest, wanting to let the world know that they are free, to stake their mark  and are able to  take the human race to new heights. I can fully appreciate how tall buildings can brand a city, help with inward investment and tourism. I’m also fully aware of the space pressures on many of our cities and the high land values that promote tall buildings.

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It’s very easy to be become a waste and recycling obsessive. For many of us there is real pleasure to be had from minimising the amount of waste that goes in the rubbish bin and maximising the amounts going into the recycling containers. When we put out our bins on a Friday, the competitive Hemingway family bristle with self satisfaction when our plastic, and paper recycling volume towers over our neighbours and our non recycling wheelie is the smallest size on offer with its lid is firmly closed whilst our neighbours bulge with black bin bags full of waste, most of which could have been recycled if they had only, like us, they had  stood over their kids with the threat of a walk along the beach filling black sacks with jetsam and flotsam rather than an afternoon playing in the garden with their friends. (more…)

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The recent promotion of housing to the higher echelons of media coverage and political agendas has meant that “affordable housing” is no longer a term that is only used in housing industry  publications and is resulting in many British people beginning to realise that “key workers” don’t just work for the  Mister Minute chain. (more…)

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Visit to Kronsberg

I’ve just come back from my second trip to Kronsberg in Germany. Kronsberg is a large new district of Hanover established as part of EXPO 2000 and designed to be “an exemplary initiative on urban development and ecological and social planning”.

Unlike many bold statements, Kongsberg’s bold statement is reaching fruition. From the sustainable transport, through the imaginative schools, to the sustainable use of natural resources Kronsberg is streets ahead of anything comparable in size in the UK. I think that over the next few years in the UK we will see some more imagination going into school design and more sustainable and modern transport thinking like Gateshead’s “CentreLink” and Dartford’s “Fastrack”. (more…)

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I have always been into “pensioner chic”, I wear brown slacks, sensible shoes and a occasionally, a cardi. If I wasn’t so modern as to buy all my food shopping online (a pre silvers surfer?) I would leave Tesco pulling one of those bags on wheels with my leeks and cabbage sticking out the top. I ‘m looking forward to being a granddad, and with kids soon to move out of their teenage years it may not be that far off. But for the last decade (since my early 30’s)  I’ve had a title that successful businessmen  often achieve prior to becoming a pensioner, the title of Chairman. Firstly I was the Chairman of Red or Dead the fashion company I founded, and for the past few years I’ve been the Chairman of Building For Life. (more…)

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Thames Gateway Architecture Week Piece June 2005

There has been lots written (and its been largely negative)  in the press about “The Thames Gateway Project “but I would hazard a guess that were I to stop a 100 random people on any street in London a good number might imagine it to be a big gate being build in the Thames or another strange piece of modern art featuring various gates from B & Q placed strategically along the river. I believe few would know it is possibly Britain’s most ambitious development concept in many a decade with talk of anything between 200,000 and 400,000 new homes being built. If we disregard the fact that some dispute  that we actually need that many new homes and disregard the argument over whether some of these should actually be built in the north , there is no denying that there is a shortage of affordable housing and  that this is  a nation where home  ownership is an emotional, social and financial goal that for most cant be reached now until well into ones 30’s  and there can be no denying that thousands of these new homes in “The Thames Gateway Project” will start to come out of the ground over the next months and years.

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