Our New Year Resolution is to find the most interesting built environment stories from the UK, give you our take and package them up in a weekly round-up

The planning and development industry has been naturally quiet over the festive period, so we might be covering a bit more than a week, but some interesting stories have emerged nonetheless. 2020 is likely to be an exciting year for the built environment, with the role of technology and climate change high on the agenda, so stay tuned to our blog for more.

York set to become UK's first car free city centre

The headline pretty much says it all here. This is undoubted progress and York's Labour Councillor Jonny Crawshaw is right when he says "the public mood is changing" in relation to climate change. It may well be that York becomes a bit of a test case for how it can work in other towns and cities around the UK. It will be interesting to see how banning all but "essential journeys" will be enforced and what is deemed as an "essential journey". People with physical impairments and business deliveries seem obvious, but I wonder whether there may be other 'hidden' essential journeys that people make that civic leaders don't know are there yet and loopholes that might emerge. We shall see.

How can we build loneliness out of London?

This article gets across a simple message but an important one: meaningful civic participation can help people, particularly younger people, feel less lonely. Not only does getting involved in placemaking and built environment projects create an opportunity for people to 'get out there' and mix with people, but it also helps people develop a connection with the places that they live and feel more likely to use them.

MPs critical of council's housing consultation process


Dudley South MP Mike Wood has criticised the process for allocating land for new homes in South Staffordshire, suggesting that developing on Green Belt land identified would place pressure on a local services. Not an unusual story. But the article also includes quotes from neighbouring MP Gavin Williamson, criticising the Council's consultation process on the potential sites for development, suggesting not enough time was given for local people to respond and that the process was confusing for residents. This seems to be a classic example of trust between Council and community being eroded by a lack of transparency, simplicity and ease-of-access to an important consultation.

How a decade has changed Plymouth: 10 parts of the city that are unrecognisable from 2010

I wouldn't say that any of the developments mentioned in this article are particularly noteworthy, but it is nice to see the local press celebrating developments that have taken place across a UK city over the last 10 years. Too often, the regional press reports in negative terms about housebuilding proposals, in particular, so it is good to see the Plymouth Herald taking a positive stance.

Next gen | Lichfields

It is good to hear the planning profession considering how technology will influence the day-to-day life of people that work in it. This article explores how, including an important mention for how technology can influence the way that communities engage with planning. I like the idea of passers-by being to influence future development proposals 'on-site', but its important that we make sure the ability to influence and comment on plans doesn't depend on being physically present, whether its 'on-site', passing-by or at drop-in events.

Written by Paul Erskine-Fox - Founder, Participatr

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