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Old June 11th, 2011, 02:33 AM   #61
Rational Plan
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Quote:
Originally Posted by potto View Post
that is just running away from the problem, like the original new town plan and the garden city plan before it.

There is absolutely no reason to make building homes so complicated and uncertain that it is only an option for a cartel that can play the planning system.

If you chose to live in London and reap the benefits it should involve a two-way contract and an acceptance of other peoples right to live in here too in decent accomodation. Light access and privacy are already protected by law so there is absolutely no reason for the constant political battles that bring up illogical non-issues all every time.

If things were more clear and predictable I am convinced that a myriad of new types of developers would enter the market to cater for different budgets.
So what no planning then? No conservation areas, no design review just bulldoze and erect highrise blocks then. You hate most developer buildings put up now, I can't see how a simple planning system would improve on what we have now.

The council would be out on its ear by the next election if the local populace had not already stormed the town hall before then.

Its even less likely than my new town plan. Developers need high prices to earn the margin to pay for affordable units. Cheap housing is built in cheap areas. We live in a democracy and people have property rights. In the city it takes time assemble sites for big buildings.

The only areas where it is relatively easy to develop are ex industrial or institutional sites. All nice residential areas are covered by conservation areas, you are looking at a drag down fight if you proposed knocking just 6 terraced houses for one 5 storey apartment block. People naturally want to protect what they have got the problem is getting around it.

In recent years it has become easier for developers to overturn applications rejections that a committee rejects even though it complies with planning policy (Though you have to pretty rich to go down that route). Even this is attacked by people as a subvention of democracy. The coalition has proposed that developers offer direct financial inducements to offset externalities on neighbouring landowners rather just the council through s106's Obviously this is controversial but might be the only way to buy off people.
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Old June 11th, 2011, 05:07 AM   #62
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I haven't been involved in UK housing for quite some time so I did a little research on residential construction costs per metre square in London. The best of the sites I found was as follows:

http://www.designyourhouse.co.uk/pag...e=priceproject

This sites states that 1,500 pounds per square metre is standard, ie 150 pound per square foot. For a 2 bed flat of say 900 ft2, the construction cost is 135,000 pounds. Add a London weighting of say 15% (higher salary costs, materials,delivery costs etc), and the cost is in the 150,000 pound level for a 2-bed flat in London. Note too that council housing usually has to be more robust than private sector construction, though is more spartan in terms of fitting out.

See article below:
Whether you are looking for information on house extension costs or new build construction prices we can help you assess your budget price.

For a helpful chart to estimate the cost of your project see the information set out below. First measure the floor area of your building or extension then assess the complexity of your plans and read off the sliding scale of costs per square metre.

Estimating small building projects can be a complex process because it depends on the many factors that affect the construction prices. You will only get an accurate idea of the price for your individual project when all the drawings and schedules of work have been completed outlining your particular requirements, the type of house construction and any other factors specific to your project. New build houses tend to be cheaper per square metre than house extensions and renovation projects.

It is then advisable to get several builders to price the documents and compare prices. No two building contractors will arrive at the same price, but ensure that the priced document breaks down the items of work so you can compare properly. You also need to take account of how long the builder thinks the job will take and how many jobs they undertake at the same time. Get references from previous customers and visit any similar jobs the contractor has completed.

Below is a simple guide intended only as a starting point for you to assess if your house construction plans match your budget for the project. The actual eventual cost will depend on a myriad of factors such as geographical location, availability of contractors, complexity of the works and your specification for the construction. Use the diagram and budget descriptions as guide to the possible costs in pounds sterling per square metre for your overall construction costs excluding VAT.



Average £1,000 per square metre.
Low cost construction with no site constraints. Budget fittings and specification.

Average £1,250 per square metre.
More scope for construction choices and internal fit out.

Average £1,500 per square metre.
Standard construction and structural work. Average range fittings and specification.

Average £1,750 per square metre.
More structural complexity such as underpinning. Bespoke joinery or specialist items.

Average £2,000 per square metre.
Complex structures such as basements. Luxury features, handmade kitchens and wet rooms.


EXAMPLES OF OTHER BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS

London and South East weighting and other ‘hot spots’ could add 15% to 20% to project costs.

Difficult site conditions or access problems could add to project costs.

Size and shape of the project can add to or reduce the build costs. There is an ‘economy of scale’ so that the larger the size of project the more the price per square metre should reduce.

Reductions can be made if you have the skills to project manage the build yourselves by employing individual trades rather than a main contractor. Expect to reduce the costs by 10% to 15% typically.


Further useful reading:

Spon’s Architect’s and Builders’s Price Books
Davis Langdon

Spon’s House Improvement Price Book
Bryan J.D. Spain

The Housebuilders Bible
Mark Brinkley

The Site Managers Bible
Len Sales
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Old June 12th, 2011, 09:14 AM   #63
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Thank you. I just cant believe how much cost have gone up is such a short time.

It is clearer why social housing projects are often multi storey. The savings must be substantial and that's not even taking into account land costs.
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Old June 12th, 2011, 05:25 PM   #64
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There can be additional costs too for councils because as clients they have to go through a lot more transparency than private building clients, which results in more process, time and money. The main reasons for this are (a) to prevent kickbacks, and (b) to prevent govt being sued by contractors who do not win a tender who may raise a law suite. However, as a consequenc, bidding contractors usually charge a premium due to all the process involved. I didn't factor that in, but it is a reality for all govt type contracts, whether offices or housing.

Another factor too is the challenge of building on awkward urban sites with neighbouring property issues, desiring density to achieve value, etc. Inner London construction can be very challenging. Simple houses are much better value to build than medium rise construction.

I was shocked when looking at the costs for council estate rehabs, which often do not appear to be major changes, but refinishing exteriors, new windows, roofs, new landscaping/parking areas, improved security measures etc, without even going on the inside, can cost the price of a new house when considered on a unit cost / residential unit.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 12:12 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Rational Plan View Post
The best solution is to try and manage prices so that prices are flat while inflation and wages grow faster.
What a lovely dream

Black Cat - bear in mind that those prices are for one-off houses and don't translate well to large multiple-unit projects
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Old June 13th, 2011, 01:10 PM   #66
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Presumably you get better deals too when you want 600 units built rather than 1 or 2.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 01:28 PM   #67
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Funny how where there is a will there is a way


http://www.building.co.uk/news/break...019507.article

Lipton plan to halve cost of London skyscrapers
9 June 2011 | By Emily Wright

Sir Stuart Lipton backs study that recommends cutting the cash spent on iconic City facades

A consortium, backed by construction heavyweight Sir Stuart Lipton, has approached the City of London with a plan to save the capital from any more over-expensive iconic towers.

The group, which includes Davis Langdon, Aedas, WSP and Hilson Moran, believes it can halve the price of commercial skyscrapers.

Lipton (pictured), founder of Stanhope, approached Davis Langdon nine months ago and “challenged” the group to come up with a way of developing office buildings for just £125/ft2 rather than the average £250/ft2 they are understood to cost now.

The plan was presented to Peter Rees, London’s City planning officer, last November. Sir Stuart hopes to facilitate the construction of a pilot scheme to show how the study would work in practice, through his development company, Chelsfield Partners.

He said: “What I wanted to do with this study was re-evaluate why construction costs are so high and why tennant’s needs are not always taken into consideration.”

Sir Stuart threw the gauntlet down. How can we make the City more effective?
Steve Watts, Davis Langdon
Steve Watts, director of Davis Langdon’s tall buildings division, has been leading the project since May. “Sir Stuart threw the gauntlet down in May last year. He explained that these landmark towers in London are all well and good, but why not come up with high-rise commercial schemes that are half the price at just £125/ft2 for shell and core?

“We pulled a team together of about 10 people from four companies and we had to ask whether investment is directed towards the right outcomes. How can we make the City more effective? Rather than spending £1,000/m2 on a nice facade, could that money be better spent on flexibility or sustainability? We want to show how tall buildings can be made more sustainable for the end user. Now we want to show how this would work on a real building. We are hoping that a developer might be interested in joining together to develop one.”

Kamran Moazami, director at WSP, was involved in the project. He said: “The results show you don’t need to make a building extraordinary to get planning. You just need to build it well and sustainably. It’s about how to get a building working economically.”

The research also revealed that while most US buildings are now designed commercially, starting on the inside of the building working out, UK designs for London high-rise buildings are still focused on iconic facades and complex structures - which no longer make financial sense.

At the British Council for Offices’ conference on the Future of Offices in May, it was pointed out that occupiers will be more interested in the facilities and technology inside buildings. At the event Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make, said: Buildings will need to be simpler on the outside but with more functional interiors.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 02:44 PM   #68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rational Plan View Post
So what no planning then? No conservation areas, no design review just bulldoze and erect highrise blocks then. You hate most developer buildings put up now, I can't see how a simple planning system would improve on what we have now.

The council would be out on its ear by the next election if the local populace had not already stormed the town hall before then.

Its even less likely than my new town plan. Developers need high prices to earn the margin to pay for affordable units. Cheap housing is built in cheap areas. We live in a democracy and people have property rights. In the city it takes time assemble sites for big buildings.

The only areas where it is relatively easy to develop are ex industrial or institutional sites. All nice residential areas are covered by conservation areas, you are looking at a drag down fight if you proposed knocking just 6 terraced houses for one 5 storey apartment block. People naturally want to protect what they have got the problem is getting around it.

In recent years it has become easier for developers to overturn applications rejections that a committee rejects even though it complies with planning policy (Though you have to pretty rich to go down that route). Even this is attacked by people as a subvention of democracy. The coalition has proposed that developers offer direct financial inducements to offset externalities on neighbouring landowners rather just the council through s106's Obviously this is controversial but might be the only way to buy off people.
I support, as most people do, the conservation of buildings of character and interest and this is currently a well-defined legal framework. However over-seeing bodies such as English Heritage are not as transparent as they should be. Certainly in London they go beyond their mandate into murkier political waters. At times it seems the planning system is more to do with the freemason society. Conservation is incredibly costly as it is without the need for such corruption.

Outside of the planning office map, the term conservation area is not so well-defined and allows greedy land owners and property owners to use it to artificially boost their property value and as a mechanism for a type of social cleansing. We should not be supporting this under the term democracy. It is not democracy.

We can not afford to support the whimsical and aloof emotions of some inhabitants wanting to pretend they inhabit a romanticised view of the 18th Century while they drive to the supermarket and fill precious street space with parked cars. When you buy a property you own its internal space and any attached garden.

Light rights (already enshrined in law) and local amenity strain make sense in a democratic context.

Any implied status of not seeing a council tower block or of having 4 Georgian era neighbours are all the value added extras as imagined by the owner they do not become the property of or rights of. They should never be bundled into concepts of democracy. The Bermondsey and Chelsea Barracks saga is a good indication of all that is wrong. The democratic participation needs to be far more concise and pro-active, with agreed upon plans that include visual aspects long before developers stake their interest.

With regards to the physical juxtaposition, there should be clear guidelines on massing, for example a guideline could clearly state a tendency toward elegance via concepts of width to height ratios for the architect and developer to work on before they submit (who would not vote for that?) and bang in an instance you get rid of 2 years of planning hell. Height by itself is far too arbitrary and is meaningless to visual perceptions of beauty.

It just requires a more intelligent system. The current system of individual boroughs with a rule book from 1947 and home owners trying to block everything after developers and architects have worked behind the scenes for years is hopeless management.

New Towns were undemocratically started with a vengeance 50 years ago. They have had plenty of time to prove themselves and yet have not been the economic, social or cultural panacea that was envisaged all that time ago.

In fact during that time, all over the world the key economic, social and cultural
capabilities of densification and the clustering of human capital to achieve a critical mass as proven for the past 5000 years has been taken advantage of with many emerging cities starting to give the traditional order a run for its money.

The proportion of people in the UK living in London has dropped from 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 in the past 100 years. The pendulum the world over is now toward densification for a myriad of reasons with the environment being the moral driver.

London is full of inefficient places, even in the leafy suburbs, you could probably double the amount of building capacity without negatively impacting decent (ie useful) green and public space and without building giant tower blocks everywhere by systematically targeting, reconfiguring and densifying all of these poorly designed urban places.

This is where the London wide government takes its role, combined with a modular design template and a more pro-active planning system with democratically agreed frameworks already in place could help new types of developers with different profit expectations to join the market.

This boils down to if you live in an urban environment then you should expect some type of social, economic and physical juxtaposition. If you want real democracy then you need to ask valid questions and include everyone. There should be a two-way dialogue for both taking advantage of what cities offer and having a say in its form.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 02:58 PM   #69
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Well I'm sure if they transfer any of this to the residential sector they will. They are developers after all they are interested in profit. But it will all depend on what costs they can cut.

I imagine that office developers spend a lot more on air conditioning, raised floors and false ceilings, elaborate office glazing, fancy lifts grand foyers with lavish use of marble etc. Spec finishes that end up being ripped out for new clients etc.

At the end of the day if Lipton can find ways of reducing the cost of building the frame then that will obviously have effects on residential.
Some developers are already putting toilet pods in. But so far pre fab is not saving any money, it gains on saving time and having greater quality control over fit out.

The thing is many of us complain about the really cheap cladding the put up on a lot of residential towers already. But it will be interesting all the same. It was Lipton who transformed the British office market with Broadgate, but it was also him that introduced much more lavish office buildings into the UK market.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 05:31 PM   #70
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Should council homes be simply for "needy" people. Was this ever the sole reason for their creation? It appears not. They where created in such vast numbers it would suggest that 10s of million of the population would have to have been described as "needy" despite being in work. Why should wealth be a factor?. This is not to say that provision shouldn't be made for those in need, but it strikes me that if there are waiting lists it is a problem caused by a lack of supply (market failure alert) not with the rules governing who lives in a council home. Policy should be trying to solve the supply problem not evicting people from their homes.
I find this (and the BBC documentary you provided a link to) very interesting. I hadn't really understood that the big council estates weren't just intended to provide social housing for those who needed it, but were intended to be mixed communities.

That's a perfectly worthy aspiration I think - I think mixed communities are generally a good thing (though I'd defend the likes of RichW1 and Octoman to go and hide themselves away in gated compounds for the wealthy if they really want to - I wouldn't choose to join them there personally even if I could afford to, but it's a free country).

The trouble is: if that was the intention, it seems to have failed. Not that there aren't (a relatively small number of) wealthy people living there - there are the Bob Crows, it turns out. I see no problem with council tenants buying their home if they can afford to, as long as it's at market rates and as long as the proceeds then pay for the construction of more homes. I do however have a problem with wealthy people having the right to hold on to taxpayer-subsidized accommodation, wherever it is - that's surely just unfair.

But for the model of mixed-community council estates to have worked, councils would have had to keep building, and fast - and they didn't. Also, the estates would have to be places where people would want to live, even if they could afford to live elsewhere, which generally they weren't - many of them were a bit of a disaster aesthetically. I wonder what would have happened if councils had taken a very conservative architectural approach, and built Victorian-style stucco terraces. We'll never know.

But if the aim is to build places where people want to live (which seems sensible), isn't it better to let private-sector developers (who will presumably be responsive to market signals as to people's preferences) build them, rather than local government?

In other words, perhaps I have been wrong in criticizing the "affordable homes" policy, which does after all attempt to create privately-built mixed communities, through the requirement on developers to include a proportion of social housing, which can be tailored to local need etc.

I'm sure that policy is every bit as well-intentioned as the creation of the big council estates was - it's trying to achieve the same thing through what most people would see as a more modern approach. My fear is that it's failing too, as evidenced by the continuing supply-demand imbalance and the fact that homes, especially in London, continue to get smaller and more expensive.

I suspect we can all agree, at least, that major reform of the planning system could help - and potto makes some interesting suggestions about that.

Hm. I'm certainly enjoying the debate...
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Old June 13th, 2011, 05:31 PM   #71
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I support, as most people do, the conservation of buildings of character and interest and this is currently a well-defined legal framework. However over-seeing bodies such as English Heritage are not as transparent as they should be. Certainly in London they go beyond their mandate into murkier political waters. At times it seems the planning system is more to do with the freemason society. Conservation is incredibly costly as it is without the need for such corruption.
I don't really see anything sinister in English Heritage objecting to skyscrapers. I don't agree with its position on skyscrapers though, but many people don't like tall buildings and the scar of the 60's and 70's left a certain default position amongst many people, that tall buildings are bad. For an organisation tasked with a statutory duty to protect the built environment it might of felt natural to extend it's remit to stop tall buildings invading central london. Now that it's lost some expensive planning fights it will be a bit more chastened. Besides the majority of EH's work is monitoring historic structures and helping enforce the listing system. What do you mean by make it more transparent and how will that change anything in regards to planning.

Quote:
Outside of the planning office map, the term conservation area is not so well-defined and allows greedy land owners and property owners to use it to artificially boost their property value and as a mechanism for a type of social cleansing. We should not be supporting this under the term democracy. It is not democracy.
If you preserve a pretty area by preventing the fitting of uvpc windows or ill considered extensions how is that bad. An area that is well preserved and controls individual excess does end up being worth more. I'm not sure how this mechanism leads to social clensing though. Conservation areas are often proposed long after gentrification has occurred. How is it not democracy it's usually supported by the majority of the people living in them. They've often campaigned for them to be included in the local plan. Sure, to you, they may be evil owners of property wanting to protect and improve their built environment, but how is that wrong exactly? Is all property theft in your eyes?

In historic areas only a limited number of buildings are actually listed. If you look at any map in a local plan of any charming street you know only a few will be shaded. These areas will often be overlaid with conservation areas, which is to ensure that any new building is in keeping with that street, to preserve it's amenity value. This pays off dividends obviously in prosperous areas as over time the worst buildings from before the conservation area are replaced. we've seen plenty of streets full of bland boxes with the odd historical sitting there looking forlorn. You then get the old picture from before the war and see what was swept away because those other buildings did not have intrinsic historic value, were just background buildings etc.

Quote:
We can not afford to support the whimsical and aloof emotions of some inhabitants wanting to pretend they inhabit a romanticised view of the 18th Century while they drive to the supermarket and fill precious street space with parked cars. When you buy a property you own its internal space and any attached garden.
You should put that on a election poster. So no one has any right to be concerned by any externalities imposed by neighbours. Who decides then? Obviously not the people living in the area as that is apparently against democracy. Do you subscribe to the view each landowner has the sole right to determine what is built on his property then or is it just what a planning team at the council decide and the people who line next door can go fuck themselves.

Quote:
Light rights (already enshrined in law) and local amenity strain make sense in a democratic context.
But this is what most of the arguments are about, A developer wants to fit as many units he can on a particular site to maximise profits. Neoghbours want to minimise the number of units to reduce traffic (especially as no where has enough parking on site these days), the feeling of being overlooked and shadow effects if it is a tall building. If it is hundreds of units then it also becomes about new schools etc.

Quote:
The democratic participation needs to be far more concise and pro-active, with agreed upon plans that include visual aspects long before developers stake their interest.
What does that mean? A lot of council already produce masterplans for large areas they want to see developed, but that often takes years to get agreed. How is that different from now.

Quote:
With regards to the physical juxtaposition, there should be clear guidelines on massing, for example a guideline could clearly state a tendency toward elegance via concepts of width to height ratios for the architect and developer to work on before they submit (who would not vote for that?) and bang in an instance you get rid of 2 years of planning hell. Height by itself is far too arbitrary and is meaningless to visual perceptions of beauty.
So we trade big poorly detailed bland boxes for tall poorly detailed bland boxes.
For large sites councils can already produce a masterplan and design guide. Once it's agreed each subsequent phase usually skips through planning.

The council could issue a high prescriptive design guide giving templates how every house should look, what materials to use etc, but I can't see that finding favour with architects.

It just requires a more intelligent system. The current system of individual boroughs with a rule book from 1947 and home owners trying to block everything after developers and architects have worked behind the scenes for years is hopeless management.

Quote:
New Towns were undemocratically started with a vengeance 50 years ago. They have had plenty of time to prove themselves and yet have not been the economic, social or cultural panacea that was envisaged all that time ago.
No they were not a utopia, but the inner city schemes we came up with were even worse.

Quote:
In fact during that time, all over the world the key economic, social and cultural
capabilities of densification and the clustering of human capital to achieve a critical mass as proven for the past 5000 years has been taken advantage of with many emerging cities starting to give the traditional order a run for its money.

The proportion of people in the UK living in London has dropped from 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 in the past 100 years. The pendulum the world over is now toward densification for a myriad of reasons with the environment being the moral driver.
People are not rushing to Sao Paulo or Dhaka out of environmental concern, it's about getting work and participating in consumer culture rather than being a subsistence farmer. Living in a slum is better than in the middle of now where.

Quote:
London is full of inefficient places, even in the leafy suburbs, you could probably double the amount of building capacity without negatively impacting decent (ie useful) green and public space and without building giant tower blocks everywhere by systematically targeting, reconfiguring and densifying all of these poorly designed urban places.
So what would happen to a targeted area? How would you reconfigure the 30's suburbs. At the end of day you mean demolish and rebuild as a higher density. You could have a city of 4 storey apartment blocks instead, not going to be popular with the existing residents though.

Where are all these inefficient places that you can fit another 7 million people in.

Quote:
This is where the London wide government takes its role, combined with a modular design template and a more pro-active planning system with democratically agreed frameworks already in place could help new types of developers with different profit expectations to join the market.
Sounds nice, but how are people democratically agree that neighbours have no right to object to what is happening on their street. What if the people don't want the population to increase radically. How is a new framework going to get developers building with profit expectations? Who are these people and where do they exist. They are all prfit maximisers

If you mean co-ops say so, but really there is the social sector and the private sector. It all comes down to the price of land and how much we are willing to spend putting up council housing. We could encourage the development of companies that rent to the private sector that exist in other countries, but their rents will be high unless the price of land is low or their is some form of subsidy.

Quote:
This boils down to if you live in an urban environment then you should expect some type of social, economic and physical juxtaposition. If you want real democracy then you need to ask valid questions and include everyone. There should be a two-way dialogue for both taking advantage of what cities offer and having a say in its form.
What does this mean? What is real democracy? Who gets to decide what the valid questions are? Obviously you feel no one is acting how they should. Who is it excluding? What if everyone likes the current set up.

You won't get large scale rebuilding of London unless you ride roughshod over the little people whether they are council tenants or home owners. We did this after the war and very few consider it a success it did not lead to utopia. How many large scale plans have been a success. It's often better to let piecemeal development to occur, we would certainly end up with more variety.

They only way to speed up development is to get rid of planning control, get rid of s106 agreements, stop making developers pay for affordable units. They pay taxes like any other business, socially desired outcomes should come out of general taxation rather than from just one sector. The more you want them to pay for stuff, the more expensive their properties need to be to be able to pay for it. But if you want the greenbelt to exist of have historic districts, protect your rights then there is a cost.

Urban redevelopment has its role to play but it's slow. The smaller the plot the less economy of scale you have and the bigger access problems you have. That's why big schemes in London are in former industrial areas or council estates, it's easier. The equivalent in current residential areas will not happen. They got away with it in the 50's 60's because they said they were slums. There are no real slums today, only on the worst council estates.

To get large schemes going in other areas it may be easier if developers could pay neighbours to compensate for any negative externalities. Dangle enough money and people will sell up. You could tweak things so that once, say, 75% of people had agreed to sell then obtaining compulsory purchase became easier.

But at the end of the day low cost housing requires large plots, the bigger the better. The biggest expansion in housing came about from large scale suburban building, whether private or council, you won't get that unless you go the chinese solution and expropriate whole neighbourhoods demolish them and build massive high rises. That just will not happen.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 09:09 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Officer Dibble View Post
But if the aim is to build places where people want to live (which seems sensible), isn't it better to let private-sector developers (who will presumably be responsive to market signals as to people's preferences) build them, rather than local government?
When demand so greatly outstrips supply, developers don't have to respond to market signals, or build homes that are genuinely pleasant to live in. They respond to £/sq.m. and speculative buyers. Maximising profit does not ensure the provision of the best housing for the most people.

Now, the monolithic housing estates of the 60s and 70s were, mostly, not pleasant places to live, but urban design has come on a great deal since then and we know how to do it right. It's just not particularly profitable to do so, in the short term. Over the lifetime of a home, however, the initial cost is spread very thinly. If we want good quality housing, then there has to be a mechanism for spreading that cost out. Either directly government built, or through some incentivisation of the private sector I don't know.
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Old June 13th, 2011, 10:26 PM   #73
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I find this (and the BBC documentary you provided a link to) very interesting. I hadn't really understood that the big council estates weren't just intended to provide social housing for those who needed it, but were intended to be mixed communities.

That's a perfectly worthy aspiration I think - I think mixed communities are generally a good thing (though I'd defend the likes of RichW1 and Octoman to go and hide themselves away in gated compounds for the wealthy if they really want to - I wouldn't choose to join them there personally even if I could afford to, but it's a free country).

The trouble is: if that was the intention, it seems to have failed. Not that there aren't (a relatively small number of) wealthy people living there - there are the Bob Crows, it turns out. I see no problem with council tenants buying their home if they can afford to, as long as it's at market rates and as long as the proceeds then pay for the construction of more homes. I do however have a problem with wealthy people having the right to hold on to taxpayer-subsidized accommodation, wherever it is - that's surely just unfair.

But for the model of mixed-community council estates to have worked, councils would have had to keep building, and fast - and they didn't. Also, the estates would have to be places where people would want to live, even if they could afford to live elsewhere, which generally they weren't - many of them were a bit of a disaster aesthetically. I wonder what would have happened if councils had taken a very conservative architectural approach, and built Victorian-style stucco terraces. We'll never know.

But if the aim is to build places where people want to live (which seems sensible), isn't it better to let private-sector developers (who will presumably be responsive to market signals as to people's preferences) build them, rather than local government?

In other words, perhaps I have been wrong in criticizing the "affordable homes" policy, which does after all attempt to create privately-built mixed communities, through the requirement on developers to include a proportion of social housing, which can be tailored to local need etc.

I'm sure that policy is every bit as well-intentioned as the creation of the big council estates was - it's trying to achieve the same thing through what most people would see as a more modern approach. My fear is that it's failing too, as evidenced by the continuing supply-demand imbalance and the fact that homes, especially in London, continue to get smaller and more expensive.

I suspect we can all agree, at least, that major reform of the planning system could help - and potto makes some interesting suggestions about that.

Hm. I'm certainly enjoying the debate...
It is a very important topic officer and central to our society, and its about time you made an appearance in your own thread.

"That's a perfectly worthy aspiration I think - I think mixed communities are generally a good thing (though I'd defend the likes of RichW1 and Octoman to go and hide themselves away in gated compounds for the wealthy if they really want to - I wouldn't choose to join them there personally even if I could afford to, but it's a free country)."

To be fair, Octoman has refrained from such comments but yes, I agree that one should have that right. personally I cant help but feel pity for such people as I have alluded to - to have to see the majority of us getting on with normal life in fairly close proximity - nothing more needs to be added to that point I hazard.

"The trouble is: if that was the intention, it seems to have failed. Not that there aren't (a relatively small number of) wealthy people living there - there are the Bob Crows, it turns out. I see no problem with council tenants buying their home if they can afford to, as long as it's at market rates and as long as the proceeds then pay for the construction of more homes. I do however have a problem with wealthy people having the right to hold on to taxpayer-subsidized accommodation, wherever it is - that's surely just unfair."

I think I disagree. I dont agree that the property is subsidised by the tax payer - how? The market rate is (was) reduced by the rent you have paid over the years. The ideal of social housing is partly to better our society overall. If someone living in Social housing makes a success of their hard work and ingenuity and are to a greater extent able to benefit more quickly from purchasing (or not - saving the extra money they would normally pay on the open market rent) then good on them!

There is a mirror argument. Some people argue too much benefit (whatever that is) will stop people from seeking work. Is it not the same argument with social housing? Envy is not a healthy or productive. Consider, once you have purchased your home you 'ARE' in a different league altogether. If you lose your job or become ill you are on your own! You have to insure your mortgage payments and health etc. If you rent a place you are entitled for the state to pay your housing costs - whether social OR private housing. Now THATS the taxpayer subsidising you!

Rather see buying your home buy any means as a benefit to the society in the long run - freeing the state from the burden of keeping you housed if you are unlucky enough to lose your health or work.

To sum up - its important HOW you become entitled to social housing, its far less important how you leave it IMO.

In my case, I became entitled to a housing association flat because my parents home was subject to a council compulsory purchase to build a new road. The council made me homeless! I was 22. I had started saving for my own deposit to buy my own home at 18. Of course, eventually I ended up buying a home, but not my SH flat, I gave that up, but was rewarded financially for doing so in addition to my savings.

All very interesting
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Old June 14th, 2011, 01:05 AM   #74
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What a lovely dream

Black Cat - bear in mind that those prices are for one-off houses and don't translate well to large multiple-unit projects
On the contrary, one off type houses, semi-ds, walk up row houses are probably the most economic form of housing to construct and maintain. The large estates can be very expensive to construct, require a lot of walkways, stairs, elevators etc which not only are expensive to build but can be expensive to maintain. Tall point blocks are usually the most economic form of high rise to build and maintain (as opposed to low/mid rise buildings with lifts and stair towers with high level walkways), though they need 25-30 floors plus to have 2-3 elevators (so if one breaks down, the others can carry the load) and require small hallways to maintain. However, the 50s/60s construction of council point blocks had to be heavily subsidised per unit by central govt to encourage councils to build them. I believe that per unit, high rises cost 2-3 times the cost of a house to construct per unit - though this can be verified. This is the tragedy of so much high rise construction,that so much money was spent to create housing that in so many cased proved highly unpopular to tenants and citizens when simple housing would have sufficed. One can understand building high rise in denser districts, but there was no call to build them in the suburbs and towns with land available for low density housing, as happened in Glasgow and elsewhere.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 01:37 AM   #75
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Funny how where there is a will there is a way


http://www.building.co.uk/news/break...019507.article

Lipton plan to halve cost of London skyscrapers
9 June 2011 | By Emily Wright

Sir Stuart Lipton backs study that recommends cutting the cash spent on iconic City facades

A consortium, backed by construction heavyweight Sir Stuart Lipton, has approached the City of London with a plan to save the capital from any more over-expensive iconic towers.

The group, which includes Davis Langdon, Aedas, WSP and Hilson Moran, believes it can halve the price of commercial skyscrapers.

Lipton (pictured), founder of Stanhope, approached Davis Langdon nine months ago and “challenged” the group to come up with a way of developing office buildings for just £125/ft2 rather than the average £250/ft2 they are understood to cost now.

The plan was presented to Peter Rees, London’s City planning officer, last November. Sir Stuart hopes to facilitate the construction of a pilot scheme to show how the study would work in practice, through his development company, Chelsfield Partners.

He said: “What I wanted to do with this study was re-evaluate why construction costs are so high and why tennant’s needs are not always taken into consideration.”

Sir Stuart threw the gauntlet down. How can we make the City more effective?
Steve Watts, Davis Langdon
Steve Watts, director of Davis Langdon’s tall buildings division, has been leading the project since May. “Sir Stuart threw the gauntlet down in May last year. He explained that these landmark towers in London are all well and good, but why not come up with high-rise commercial schemes that are half the price at just £125/ft2 for shell and core?

“We pulled a team together of about 10 people from four companies and we had to ask whether investment is directed towards the right outcomes. How can we make the City more effective? Rather than spending £1,000/m2 on a nice facade, could that money be better spent on flexibility or sustainability? We want to show how tall buildings can be made more sustainable for the end user. Now we want to show how this would work on a real building. We are hoping that a developer might be interested in joining together to develop one.”

Kamran Moazami, director at WSP, was involved in the project. He said: “The results show you don’t need to make a building extraordinary to get planning. You just need to build it well and sustainably. It’s about how to get a building working economically.”

The research also revealed that while most US buildings are now designed commercially, starting on the inside of the building working out, UK designs for London high-rise buildings are still focused on iconic facades and complex structures - which no longer make financial sense.

At the British Council for Offices’ conference on the Future of Offices in May, it was pointed out that occupiers will be more interested in the facilities and technology inside buildings. At the event Ken Shuttleworth, founder of Make, said: Buildings will need to be simpler on the outside but with more functional interiors.
This is so hilarious. All Stuart Lipton's Chelsfield Partners need to do is submit a proposal for economic office project, obtain planning permission (not usually too challenging for most areas of the City or around the City, market it and build it, just like any other developer. There is no law or planning requirement not to build cheaply-clad buildings, and perhaps he can market his buildings competitively by reducing the rental/lease rates. In fact there are plenty of cheaper office buildings available for lower rent in London outside the City and the West End. The reality is that lessors and tenants pay primarily for location. However, why would a lessor pay equally high city-level rates for a cheaply-clad building as for a building with high quality cladding? Its akin to asking a person to pay Jaguar rental car price for the same as a basic Ford or GM model car. If Stuart Lipton wants to build more economic buildings, he is perfectly free to do so providing he complies with the same planning requirements as everyone else, and does not need to campaign for this. He should also understand that his business interests does not mean quality urban planning can be chucked away. Why would any responsible developer seek this? Do we want more versions of 1960s East Croydon?
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Old June 14th, 2011, 09:36 AM   #76
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I think I disagree. I dont agree that the property is subsidised by the tax payer - how? The market rate is (was) reduced by the rent you have paid over the years. The ideal of social housing is partly to better our society overall. If someone living in Social housing makes a success of their hard work and ingenuity and are to a greater extent able to benefit more quickly from purchasing (or not - saving the extra money they would normally pay on the open market rent) then good on them!
Not sure I understand all that. Certainly it's good if people living in social housing are successful and are able to purchase their properties, but if they choose not to, they're still benefiting from subsidized housing. If they're earning a large salary (say £50k), that seems unfair, when plenty of people earning half that manage to pay their own way, and when some people in real need are without accommodation.

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There is a mirror argument. Some people argue too much benefit (whatever that is) will stop people from seeking work.
Well, yes, if benefits are generous, well intended though that is, it must surely reduce the incentive to work. Most of us work because we need the money. If we're getting money from the state, that imperative is reduced.

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Is it not the same argument with social housing? Envy is not a healthy or productive. Consider, once you have purchased your home you 'ARE' in a different league altogether. If you lose your job or become ill you are on your own! You have to insure your mortgage payments and health etc. If you rent a place you are entitled for the state to pay your housing costs - whether social OR private housing. Now THATS the taxpayer subsidising you!

Rather see buying your home buy any means as a benefit to the society in the long run - freeing the state from the burden of keeping you housed if you are unlucky enough to lose your health or work.

To sum up - its important HOW you become entitled to social housing, its far less important how you leave it IMO.
Certainly envy isn't productive or sensible. I don't envy Bob Crow for living in a council flat, or even for the low rent he pays for it despite his high salary. I just think it's unfair to other people whose need for that state assistance is infinitely greater. Social housing is a finite resource, which is very valuable to people that need it. Someone earning six figures does not fit that description, though it's great that they've achieved that success.

Not sure I understand the rest.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 10:28 AM   #77
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That's a perfectly worthy aspiration I think - I think mixed communities are generally a good thing (though I'd defend the likes of RichW1 and Octoman to go and hide themselves away in gated compounds for the wealthy if they really want to - I wouldn't choose to join them there personally even if I could afford to, but it's a free country).
Funnily enought I'm actually just doing the same thing as you - defending the right of those who want to lock themselves away in a gated community to do so. Likewise it wouldn't appeal to me.

I have softened my stance quite a lot from when I used to post a few years ago after moving into a very well functioning, nice community that has people from the full range of income groups. Previously I was being confronted by some thoroughly unpleasant families who had been moved into our street as part of the local councils social housing plans - buying up property throughout the community to spread the social housing around.

I still dont think that works particularly well because the tendancy is to select the most troublesome families to get them off the estates and in my experience placing them into a different community doesnt improve their behaviour but rather damages what was previously a harmonious community. Selecting well functioning families for these homes kind of defeats the object of mixed social areas and only serves to hollow out the estates leaving behind the dross.

I guess its with this mindset that I dont like affordable housing quotas in new developments. I realise that the vast majority of people on low incomes are no problem. But even then it feels way to artificial planting people from different social strata together like that. Mixed communities work best when they grow organically and have connections trhough shared interests and aims for their local community. Planting a block of low cost flats at the back of a luxury development will never achieve that.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 01:29 PM   #78
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I have softened my stance quite a lot from when I used to post a few years ago after moving into a very well functioning, nice community that has people from the full range of income groups. Previously I was being confronted by some thoroughly unpleasant families who had been moved into our street as part of the local councils social housing plans - buying up property throughout the community to spread the social housing around.

I still dont think that works particularly well because the tendancy is to select the most troublesome families to get them off the estates and in my experience placing them into a different community doesnt improve their behaviour but rather damages what was previously a harmonious community. Selecting well functioning families for these homes kind of defeats the object of mixed social areas and only serves to hollow out the estates leaving behind the dross.

I guess its with this mindset that I dont like affordable housing quotas in new developments. I realise that the vast majority of people on low incomes are no problem. But even then it feels way to artificial planting people from different social strata together like that. Mixed communities work best when they grow organically and have connections trhough shared interests and aims for their local community. Planting a block of low cost flats at the back of a luxury development will never achieve that.
Good on you! You are braver man than me - its hard to admit having a stand point and then having to soften it because of new experience.

For what its worth I have had to go the other way slightly. I am slightly less defensive now of some individuals.

I have purchased an ex council house and have noticed a certain amount of "disturbing" antisocial behaviour that doesn't make any sense. Being told by a neighbour " oh well what can you do about it" is not acceptable to me and I, with a tiny minority of others in the area 'dealt' with the issue with the cooperation of the police who were excellent!!. We have one troubled family and they were threatened with eviction by their housing association.

A vast majority of the people here are hard working with socially acceptable behaviour. I do detect though a lack of willingness to deal with issues or to become involved in things that require ones 'own' time. People are very inverted and turn a blind eye to stuff. I don't recall it being that way in any of my previous more'mixed' communities.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 02:29 PM   #79
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On the contrary, one off type houses, semi-ds, walk up row houses are probably the most economic form of housing to construct and maintain. The large estates can be very expensive to construct, require a lot of walkways, stairs, elevators etc which not only are expensive to build but can be expensive to maintain.
"High Rise" is not required. Decent density and mix can be done in 4-6 stories while maintaining an urban street pattern and public realm.

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The ideal of social housing is partly to better our society overall. If someone living in Social housing makes a success of their hard work and ingenuity and are to a greater extent able to benefit more quickly from purchasing (or not - saving the extra money they would normally pay on the open market rent) then good on them!
Indeed. The property business is not a fully 'productive' one. Money can be 'made' without labour, merely by the renting and re-selling of existing property. That money could be much better spent on good and services that create real jobs for people. When I pay my rent, all it does is let my landlord live the life of riley in his country home. If I paid a lower rent, appropriate to the maintenance cost of my home (the capital cost having been covered many decades ago), then I would be able to afford a higher standard of living, and spend my money locally on goods and services than provide direct employment.
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Old June 14th, 2011, 05:18 PM   #80
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"High Rise" is not required. Decent density and mix can be done in 4-6 stories while maintaining an urban street pattern and public realm.



Indeed. The property business is not a fully 'productive' one. Money can be 'made' without labour, merely by the renting and re-selling of existing property. That money could be much better spent on good and services that create real jobs for people. When I pay my rent, all it does is let my landlord live the life of riley in his country home. If I paid a lower rent, appropriate to the maintenance cost of my home (the capital cost having been covered many decades ago), then I would be able to afford a higher standard of living, and spend my money locally on goods and services than provide direct employment.
Well that is nor quite fair either. If all you paid was just the maintenance cost of the property you are effectively asking to live in the property for free. You assume the land has no value and that the Landlords capital used to buy the property is free. Even if they have paid off the mortgage that is still the landlords money he could have invested eleswhere.

It's the excessive land prices that have driven up prices of rent, greater supply would reduce prices. Though a big city London is never going to be as cheap as smaller cities.
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