Our weekly round-up features the good and bad ways to recycle a building, an interesting legal case and active travel tech from a company who's business is cars


More than 13,500 affordable homes 'potentially lost through office conversions'
https://www.itv.com/news/2020-01-11/more-than-13-500-affordable-homes-potentially-lost-through-office-conversions/

The Local Government Association is claiming that 13,500 affordable homes would have been built if it were not for permitted development rights that allow vacant office buildings to be converted into homes. Whilst I think its fair to say that these affordable homes would not necessarily have been built in the place of these conversions, it seems to me to be another example of a 'race to the bottom' for home and space standards because we still refuse the address the primary cause of housing shortage - making more land available to build on.


The case for ... never demolishing another building
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2020/jan/13/the-case-for-never-demolishing-another-building

This article makes an interesting point. We seem to think very strongly, as a society, about waste and recycling. We recycle our coffee cups, wine bottles, newspapers, etc, but we don't seem to think the same way about buildings. The energy that is embodied in building construction is huge, so should we be thinking more about how we recycle building materials and even buildings themselves? This happens already, but perhaps only when the buildings and materials are desirable or trendy, but maybe we should go further.


Northern England's disused mills 'at risk'
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51051256

You would have to go quite far to find someone who wouldn't like to see these regal old mills in the north of England retained and reused, so the current campaign to save them isn't a revelation. But they are difficult to re-use, particularly where the floor plates are large and it becomes difficult to build windows into the apartments that would most likely be built into the fabric of the old building. Many of these mills are in places where the property market perhaps isn't as strong as in big cities, meaning there isn't necessarily the demand for flats or apartments. But, with a big of creative thought and a bit of give and take I'm sure we can bring these buildings to their former glory.


Shropshire parish councillor resigns after legal advice 'ignored'
https://www.shropshirestar.com/news/politics/2020/01/15/parish-councillor-near-bridgnorth-exposes-unlawful-practice-of-council-calling-it-not-fit-for-purpose-before-resigning-with-immediate-effect/

This may not seem like an interesting article on the face of it, but it's certainly an unusual case where a parish council has felt unable to make representations in a local plan process because it feels that it risks pre-determining the outcomes of planning applications that might come forward in the area in the future. One parish councillor has sought legal advice, which advises members that this would not be the case, which they have gone on to ignore. It begs the question: what is the role of the parish council if it can not represent the voice of residents in such an important matter as a local plan process?


Guildford Borough Council wants to use £359m building 1,500 home urban village at Weyside site
https://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/guildford-weyside-development-1500-homes-17537557

Not an unusual project or scale of development, but I find it interesting that the Council has seemingly decided to underwrite the cost of the entire development of a new urban village. Whilst lots of local authorities across the country are starting to build new homes now that the borrowing cap has been lifted, only 40% of the new homes proposed in this instance will be 'affordable'. An interesting model.


Uber Announces New Mobility Infrastructure Initiative for Safe Streets
https://www.uber.com/newsroom/city-mobility-campaign/?_lrsc=0d3035ea-9880-44da-8440-41c2e792e505

Uber is launching a tool to track cyclist movements on a city's streets at any time of day, designed to help cyclists make better decisions about where and when to ride and help transport planners prioritise improvements. Seems like an eminently good idea to me, but it seems like lots of infrastructure ill be required to gather the data in the first place. Let's see how it pans out.


Written by Paul Erskine-Fox - Founder, Participatr


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