Cplan The Urban Renaissance


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Punter, J. ed. (2010) Urban Design and the British Urban Renaissance, Abingdon, Routledge: xx & 371pp: 105 illustrations: in paper (ISBN 978-0-415-44303-6) and hard back: chapters on four parts of London and each of the 12 major UK cities

Uploaded by permission following CPlan lecture by Professor Punter at Cardiff University January 2010

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Cplan The Urban Renaissance

  1. 1. INNOVATION AND ENGAGEMENT PUBLIC LECTURE 2010 Urban Design and the British Urban Renaissance John Punter Professor of Urban Design, Cardiff University Design Commission for Wales
  2. 2. The book <ul><li>20 academic authors evaluating progress in major British cities: based on city by city half day seminars with local practitioners: personal verdicts </li></ul><ul><li>8 Core City & 4 London case studies: </li></ul><ul><li>4 Celtic Capitals as comparators </li></ul><ul><li>Introductory analysis of renaissance agenda/achievements </li></ul><ul><li>Summary conclusion and reflections </li></ul><ul><li>on city experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Talk explores intro and conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>Strengths and weaknesses of design </li></ul><ul><li>Impetus for urban improvement </li></ul>
  3. 3. Urban renaissance precedes UTF <ul><li>Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow lead the way 1988-1998 </li></ul><ul><li>Developers/housebuilders alert to opportunities in booming market 1996-9 </li></ul><ul><li>Much strategy/policy continuity at local level: UTF report reinforced trends </li></ul><ul><li>BUT doubts about LPAs’ ability to maintain quality control through boom </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult to measure UTF contribution but definitely changed perceptions of cities and increased attention to urban design </li></ul><ul><li>Significant increase in design exemplars: but mediocrity still the norm </li></ul><ul><li>Mix of positives and negatives, but only a decade of a 30 year project </li></ul>
  4. 4. Manchester 1996 Birmingham 1989 Key renaissance precedents
  5. 5. The UTF’s urban design agenda <ul><li>105 recommendations: most accepted by government: wide range and agenda: </li></ul><ul><li>Key areas explored in book </li></ul><ul><li>National urban design framework : </li></ul><ul><li>2. Housing supply, quality, sustainability : </li></ul><ul><li>3. Public realm and the environment : </li></ul><ul><li>4. Resources/skills for local government : </li></ul><ul><li>Design-led? a conceit? design-informed </li></ul><ul><li>but economic growth priorities of government </li></ul>1999 Independent Report 2005
  6. 6. Significantly 71%LPAs meeting all 3 targets: Deregulation of minor applications ongoing 45-46 Streamlined control processes RSS/LDFs implemented but slow production and weak strategic vision: 12% 09 2012 new target for completion. Area Action Plans an unknown quantity 41-44, 47 New Development Plan system and policy support: all new plans by 2002 Minor funding increases only: performance indicators reformed but miss place quality. Success with parks via HLF 21-29 Increase resources for urban environmental management: new models and performance indicators 1.5 cp spaces/du set 2000, but retreat to local determination post 2006 19-20 Car parking standards maxima etc Statutory plans but targets not being achieved: Inadequate funding but improvements evident Modal shift minor but public transport increase 10-13 Local transport plans, modal shift ambitions, homezones, funding Largely achieved 9 Local architecture centres in major cities Not achieved: Millenium Communities continue slowly 8 Demonstration projects of design-led regeneration Ongoing but largely achieved: strong design support and excellent manuals 7 Develop national urban design framework and best practice guidelines Minor achievement; more frequent use 6/94 Design competitions: regeneration projects/major public buildings Not made mandatory: improved advice and wider use 5 Spatial masterplans for area regeneration Code for Sustainable Homes introduced 2006 Staged targets for carbon neutrality by 2016 4 Environmental/running cost rating for homes Increase achieved 25-40 du/ha 2007 Little advice on density standards/design quality 3 Increase densities and advise on standards Not achieved 2 Comprehensive green pedestrian routes Not achieved 1 Local Authority single strategies for public realm Implementation/achievement by mid 2009 Urban Task Force recommendation (UTF 1999)
  7. 7. Major failure to improve LA funding esp for infrastructure: PFI shortcomings for design and sustainability. Homes and Communities Agency established as centralised and integrated regeneration body 2008 with generous funding. 85-102 Increase LA funding and simplify and extend regeneration funding: trial PFI; PPS 15 finally emerged but no Heritage Bill. Some funding for living over the shop but no VAT reform to aid conservation/rehabilitation 81-84 Measures to ensure empty property use, esp historic buildings, and harmonise VAT to encourage refurbishment More than 50% now owned by Housing Associations through stock transfers and ALMOs but shortfall of social housing supply increased to 1.67m units 79-80, 103-5 Market unpopular housing and incentivise more mixed social housing and home improvement in regeneration areas. Some achievement but increased costs. Some allowances and simplification of licenses 72-78 Improve environmental regulation for land, water, waste and ensure remediation Compulsory Purchase reforms but general land assembly more difficult through accounting matters 64-71 Vacant land tax, CPO reforms, revolving funds for land assembly 77% brownfield achieved in 2007. Significant achievement 57-62 Brownfield targets raised and increase public land release 40 % of schemes deliver affordable but insufficient supply and impairs design. Community Infrastructure Levy legislated but implementation awaited 49-53 Revise planning agreements, introduce impact fees and review affordable housing delivery Mechanisms implemented but major supply shortfall. Targets not achieved with local resistance and house builders marked under-supply. 48, 54-56 Accelerate land release and ‘plan, monitor manage’ to ensure supply: sequential approach
  8. 8. 1: National Urban Design Framework <ul><li>Major achievement: ODPM/CLG set comprehensive agenda/advice </li></ul><ul><li>CABE’s research, advice, campaigns provided invaluable support </li></ul><ul><li>All PPS redrafted: ‘good design indivisible from good planning’ (2005)(2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Manual for Streets, Safer Cities, Accessibility, Arterials? </li></ul><ul><li>Energy efficiency: CSH/green infrastructure being mainstreamed </li></ul><ul><li>Place making agenda: more than a mantra? Corporate commitment? CG & LG </li></ul><ul><li>Efficiency of development control improved: 71% meet all three speed targets </li></ul>
  9. 10. Critical weaknesses <ul><li>Failures of LA leadership to prioritise place making/value of urban design </li></ul><ul><li>Local Development Frameworks: only 12% in place: low priority </li></ul><ul><li>Failures of community involvement: little ‘front loading’: public ill-informed </li></ul><ul><li>Few plan-led, proactive, policy-backed design regimes with effective SPD </li></ul><ul><li>Skills deficit in control/policy/enhancement: now CSH/MfS/BfL skills to master </li></ul><ul><li>Advice overload for LPA planners: haemorrhage of talent/skill to private sector </li></ul><ul><li>Density/plot ratio weaknesses (PPS3) compounded by weak tall buildings policies </li></ul><ul><li>How are LPAs to be supported in up-skilling and design delivery? </li></ul>
  10. 11. Plymouth Bristol Birmingham Westminster
  11. 12. 2 Housing supply, quality, sustainability? <ul><li>Brownfield success (77%) and increased ave. densities (44du/ha) </li></ul><ul><li>S106 delivers significant mix: 10-40 %: half of all affordable housing </li></ul><ul><li>But tends to drive density up and design quality down </li></ul><ul><li>Small apartments half of production by 2007: demand conundrum </li></ul><ul><li>Decent homes programme in Council sector a major success </li></ul><ul><li>Council estate regeneration in early stages: mixed success: controversies </li></ul>
  12. 13. Leeds
  13. 14. 2 Housing supply, quality, sustainability (continued). <ul><li>Homes and Communities Agency: positive if belated: reinforces quality (??) and social inclusion agendas: </li></ul><ul><li>BfL monitoring reveals 18% ‘good+’ and 29% poor design: affordable does slightly better: new CLG targets for improvement </li></ul><ul><li>Good residential design practices established in some projects; </li></ul><ul><li>Enquiry by Design, Masterplans, Codes, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Positive introduction of Code for Sustainable Homes: delivery challenges to 2016, and existing stock upgrade critical </li></ul><ul><li>Eco-towns will advance sustainability thinking; green infrastructure vital to urban renaissance </li></ul>
  14. 15. Manchester Manchester: imagination ? or greed ? South Somerset vs North Somerset
  15. 16. Critical weaknesses <ul><li>Failure to boost supply drives speculation, inflation, market imbalance </li></ul><ul><li>Affordability crisis and lack of social mix feeds gentrification </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of social housing supply enforces inclusion: reduces innovation </li></ul><ul><li>Apartment development lacks design quality/ place making </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainable Communities Plan 2003 flawed but supply boost vital: </li></ul><ul><li>Anti-renaissance? </li></ul><ul><li>SCP re-thinks envt, community, transport </li></ul><ul><li>Housing Market Renewal : demolition, </li></ul><ul><li>design, conservation concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Existing housing needs energy </li></ul><ul><li>programme </li></ul>
  16. 17. Total LAs Pvt RSL Slow increase in production: 220k not achieved Affordability crisis: FTBs pay 12x income in SE Council house sales > affordable production Apartments 21  47% of production 91  07: 2% >2bed UK
  17. 18. Quadrant, Attwood Estate, Birmingham North Peckham, Southwark Estate Regeneration environment vs equity
  18. 19. Chimney Pot Park, Salford Clevedon Park, Liverpool Housing Market Renewal
  19. 20. 3 Quality of the public realm and the urban environment <ul><li>Major successes in city centres: public realm improvements, retail design </li></ul><ul><li>Manual for Streets advances: 20mph, Home Zone progress: arterials? </li></ul><ul><li>Greenspace/green infrastructure now on urban agendas </li></ul><ul><li>HLF fund improves best parks dramatically (x 6 Green Flag) </li></ul><ul><li>Only modest success in improving management and maintenance and general liveability </li></ul><ul><li>Poor/unsatisfactory neighbourhoods fall from 68% to 53%! (2001  7) </li></ul>
  20. 21. Seven Dials, Camden Grey Street, Newcastle Quality public realm ‘ shared space’
  21. 22. Critical weaknesses <ul><li>Single public realm strategies unrealised </li></ul><ul><li>No major funding for green space programmes: ‘non statutory duty’ </li></ul><ul><li>Failures with congestion charging via referenda: London 1:25 </li></ul><ul><li>Minor increases in walking and cycling: some public transport revival </li></ul><ul><li>Reliance on CCTV (78% crime budget) & ASBOs for policing </li></ul><ul><li>Counter-terrorist design supplement: cure worse than disease? </li></ul><ul><li>Community Empowerment Bill (2008) too little too late: needs resourcing </li></ul>
  22. 23. Bristol ‘Legible City’
  23. 24. 4 Resources/skills for local government and regeneration <ul><li>Improved funding for local government (UTF and Lyons recommendations) </li></ul><ul><li>Adequate infrastructure funding: CIL? </li></ul><ul><li>Reforms of VAT to encourage more rehabilitation/conservation </li></ul><ul><li>LA leadership on, and commitment to, planning and design </li></ul><ul><li>Positive use of land disposal powers </li></ul><ul><li>Improved s106 processes and levies </li></ul>
  24. 25. Critical weaknesses <ul><li>None of UTF/Lyons mechanisms to improve LA finances implemented </li></ul><ul><li>S106 and CIL ambiguities around infrastructure funding </li></ul><ul><li>Developers and LAs ratcheting up land values, maximising development for s106 funds and capital receipts: setting undesirable precedents </li></ul><ul><li>LAs prioritise tax base and s106 receipts not proactive planning </li></ul><ul><li>Skills haemorrhage to private sector: wider skills challenge not met </li></ul><ul><li>Service cuts and retrenchment to statutory functions </li></ul><ul><li>Positive environmental enhancement lacks funding: future funding bleak </li></ul>
  25. 26. Overall: spatial renaissance in the cities? <ul><li>City centre focus: consumerist emphasis, expanded centres, public realm improved: dramatic re-population </li></ul><ul><li>New dense apartment complexes but rarely neighbourhoods </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Decent homes’ progress but estate regeneration slow/variable results </li></ul><ul><li>Extensive gentrification, studentification: recession brings rental diversity </li></ul><ul><li>City centre rim vs inner city benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Mature suburbs neglected: NIMBYism cripples positive planning/ intensification </li></ul><ul><li>Edge city reduced </li></ul>
  26. 27. Suburbia everywhere ‘ Rim of discontinuity’ Leeds Neglected areas
  27. 28. Local responses and distinctive regimes <ul><li>Each city has distinctive strengths and weaknesses: successes and failures </li></ul><ul><li>Nottingham: land use, transportation, conservation, design integration: integrated thinking, strong officer continuity and leadership: good use of design strategies and briefs: ambitious design initiatives (comparisons with Edinburgh) </li></ul><ul><li>Liverpool: Liverpool One achievement: Grosvenor and Urban Splash plus URC and CABE: but World Heritage tight rope with many schemes </li></ul><ul><li>Sheffield: ‘a miserable disappointment no more’: Heart of the City officer-led, now successful partnership; project and public realm focus but inner city, apartment, equity concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Manchester: ‘entrepreneurial, opportunistic, market oriented’: no LDF or strategy: Code now SPD: consultant briefs/negotiation: erratic quality control with CE interventions, but dynamic and forward thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Birmingham: no longer in the vanguard: weakening control: towers: Big City Plan more boosterism/branding than design strategy? mould-breaking LDF? </li></ul>
  28. 29. Liverpool One Digbeth, Birmingham Sheffield Nottingham
  29. 30. Local responses and distinctive regimes <ul><li>Leeds: lost its way with design strategy, apartment oversupply, tall buildings: policy and strategy ambiguities and weakening quality control: lacks direction </li></ul><ul><li>Bristol: design disappointments/compromises with three major projects: transport weakness and LDF rejection: lacks resources for public initiative but avoids apartment blight </li></ul><ul><li>Newcastle: city centre and Quayside successes but contested spaces: bold residential strategy aborted: deliverable and sustainable? Vibrancy vs inclusion? </li></ul><ul><li>London: extremes and inequities: congestion charge, policy pragmatism and collaborative partnerships: iconic towers: masterplan/gentrification (Kings X) Global capital, privatism and limited trickle down (Isle of Dogs): </li></ul><ul><li> strategic urban design potential everywhere unrealised </li></ul>
  30. 31. Bristol Newcastle London Leeds
  31. 32. A typology of design commitment <ul><li>Strong consistent control actively shaping development : WESTMINSTER, CAMDEN, EDINBURGH, NOTTINGHAM </li></ul><ul><li>Sophisticated controls vs entrepreneurial ethic </li></ul><ul><li>MANCHESTER, CITY OF LONDON, SOUTHWARK </li></ul><ul><li>Strong focus on key city centre projects: laxer elsewhere </li></ul><ul><li>LIVERPOOL, SHEFFIELD, NEWCASTLE? </li></ul><ul><li>Strong design ethos waning </li></ul><ul><li>BIRMINGHAM, LEEDS, GLASGOW, BRISTOL? </li></ul><ul><li>Weak design frameworks: development priority </li></ul><ul><li>THAMES GATEWAY, CARDIFF, BELFAST </li></ul><ul><li>Generally place marketing eclipsing place making </li></ul><ul><li>Many different models of planning and design over time, weak plans </li></ul>
  32. 33. Liverpool Sheffield Whose city centre?
  33. 34. Sheffield Birmingham Leeds
  34. 35. Urban design vs the iconic: the search for the ‘Guggenheim effect’ ‘ Starchitecture’, ‘Blobitecture’, ‘Bling’ and ‘Primarni’ design
  35. 36. Conclusions: the positives <ul><li>Major city centres boosted: retail: repopulation: night time economy </li></ul><ul><li>Strong brownfield emphasis and significant average density increase </li></ul><ul><li>Strong national urban design framework: good design ‘indivisible’ </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced major parks/public spaces </li></ul><ul><li>Significant improvement of extant </li></ul><ul><li>council housing stock </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in design exemplars </li></ul><ul><li>Energy efficiency/low carbon priorities </li></ul><ul><li>firmly established in new construction </li></ul>
  36. 37. Conclusions: compromises <ul><li>Neoliberal governance emphasises development facilitation not quality control </li></ul><ul><li>Competitiveness ethos widens inequalities/ environmental externalities </li></ul><ul><li>City centres monopolise limited public resources : affluent consumer/tourist focus </li></ul><ul><li>Housing supply shortages: social exclusion, gentrification, widened inequalities </li></ul><ul><li>Development industry increasingly split niche vs volume builders on design quality </li></ul><ul><li>LA’s development priorities driven by </li></ul><ul><li>capital receipts/ economic priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Over-development defeats deeper renaissance </li></ul>
  37. 38. Conclusions: place marketing not place making <ul><li>Much boosterism: lip service to ‘quality’ (icons, towers etc) but little consistent urban design </li></ul><ul><li>Few LA leaders/councillors have planning/ design awareness or commitment </li></ul><ul><li>LDFs / policy frameworks not a LA priority: perceived to subvert innovation/investment </li></ul><ul><li>DC often lacks proactivity: close corporate working essential to quality place making </li></ul><ul><li>But coordinated action and PPPs have </li></ul><ul><li>delivered key projects/public realm </li></ul>
  38. 39. Key priorities for the future <ul><li>LA’s need adequate tax base, infrastructure/enhancement funds </li></ul><ul><li>Meeting housing demand and affordability: socially inclusive, energy efficient urban design a priority: NB CABE vs HCA on design standards </li></ul><ul><li>Delivering on sustainability, renewable energy, traffic restraint and green infrastructure in all development </li></ul><ul><li>Widening renaissance to inner and outer </li></ul><ul><li>suburbs: tackling disinvestment and </li></ul><ul><li>NIMBYism respectively </li></ul><ul><li>Community involvement underdeveloped: </li></ul><ul><li>often hi-jacked by NIMBYist negativity </li></ul><ul><li>Dearth of LPA design/sustainability skills: </li></ul><ul><li>corporate design training required </li></ul>BowZed
  39. 40. A closing window of opportunity? <ul><li>1999-2009 was an opportunity largely missed: ‘initiativitus’ </li></ul><ul><li>Rising market drove renaissance but quality control not widely maintained </li></ul><ul><li>Future public spending cuts will subvert much necessary enhancement </li></ul><ul><li>LA impoverishment will intensify and design will be further sacrificed </li></ul><ul><li>Improved resourcing/skills in LPAs very unlikely: HCA abolition? </li></ul><ul><li>Housing supply will be sacrificed to NIMBYism: key design role? </li></ul><ul><li>Widening inequalities expressed in differential design achievement: urban design reflects political economy </li></ul>
  40. 42. Cardiff: Renaissance City? <ul><li>88% brownfield 2007: 100% to 2018 </li></ul><ul><li>70-85% apartments: most of poor urban design </li></ul><ul><li>Ratcheting up of heights and densities: 13  36 storeys: 100  320du/ha (450) </li></ul><ul><li>14% affordable: 6,775 families on waiting list: a sound LDP? </li></ul><ul><li>Strong place marketing growth vision: ‘competitive city’ Vision </li></ul><ul><li>Megaproject mentality: from Bay, Ultra, Sports Stadia/Village to SD2, Station & WIBP </li></ul><ul><li>Focus groups not community empowerment and engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Economic development insecurity/priority </li></ul><ul><li>A lack of commitment to good design and planning for a sustainable city </li></ul><ul><li>Special projects team promises delivery not planning intervention </li></ul><ul><li>Cardiff needs to match European provincial cities quality of life/environment </li></ul><ul><li>Struggles with weak infrastructure, tax base, and its cross-subsidy role for Wales </li></ul>
  41. 43. World Class Places (CLG 2009) a confusion of place marketing with place making? Affirms some of the book’s conclusions <ul><li>1, 3, 5 Strengthen central government leadership, policy, design </li></ul><ul><li>2 Encourage local civic leaders/government to prioritise quality of place: </li></ul><ul><li>better assessment methods, ensure quality assessed in new CAAs, focus CG investment, train civic leaders, awards for quality places </li></ul><ul><li>4 Put public and community at the centre of place-shaping </li></ul><ul><li>public involvement in visioning, engagement in public building design, community upkeep of public realm, engage in new home/neighbourhood design: what resources? tokenistic </li></ul><ul><li>6 Encourage higher standards of market-led development: </li></ul><ul><li>clear LDF place ambitions: early joint working on apps; promote value of UD: proactive control </li></ul><ul><li>7 Strengthen quality of place skills, knowledge and capacity: </li></ul><ul><li>strengthen advice, encourage skill sharing between LPAs, up-skill officers and councillors, but how? </li></ul>
  42. 44. Bennie Gray, Birmingham Urban Splash, Liverpool George Ferguson, Bristol Igloo, Leeds