Archives for posts with tag: Council leader John Clancy

Birmingham City Council’s cabinet has approved a proposal to enable the development of new homes for self and custom build in the City; read more here.

‘Incentivising self-build in the city’, signed by Council leader John Clancy and Waheed Nazir Corporate Director (Economy), puts forward a series of proposals to enable the development of new homes for self and custom build in Birmingham, identifying and disposing of suitable council-owned sites and applying for grants and loan funding to support self and custom build. Self-build schemes currently deliver around 10,000 homes per year in the UK – see the government’s research briefing.

The Birmingham Newsroom release points out that the Government has taken steps to raise the profile of self-build, easing constraints in the planning systems, cutting taxes for self-build developments, providing a number of funds to assist individuals and communities to self-build and releasing public land for self-build projects. In 2016 councils became legally obliged to keep a register of potential self and custom builders and to facilitate access to suitable sites for interested parties. In 2014, a Guardian article refers to Eric Pickles as initiator and gives news of continental self-build.

The news release explains that ‘self-build’ is when the end user directly organises the design and construction of their home: “The most traditional is where the self-builder selects the design and undertakes much of the actual construction work themselves. However, self-build also includes projects where the self-builder arranges for an architect/ contractor to build their home for them; and those which are delivered by kit home companies. Some community-led projects are also defined as self-builds as the members may organise and undertake a proportion of the construction work themselves”.   There is a Self and Custom Build webpage on the Council’s website with five documents, one of which gives information about applications for self-build by individuals or associations.

As most online images were of individually designed houses in rural settings this Lancaster co-housing scene (small houses, with communal facilities and storage areas) was chosen – not ‘pure’ self-build, but the group designed it and did ‘site preparation on the periphery’.

As Brandon Lewis, when Housing and Planning Minister (2014-16) said, many other countries have a track record of delivering large numbers of local homes through self-build and there is now a determination to ensure significant growth in self housebuilding.

Long-forgotten references were revisited:

The Walter Segall Self-Build Trust has a website, not updated of late. In the late 1970s the ‘Segal method’ was adopted by Lewisham Council for a self-building housing project across four sites and in March 2016 the Architectural Association’s School of Architecture held an exhibition concentrating on two of the streets, Walter’s Way and Segal Close, built under Segal’s personal guidance.

A search updated news gf Mary Kelly, architect, self-builder and teacher who for ten years co-ordinating the activities of the Walter Segal Self Build Trust. She is now living and teaching in Northumberland, building her own house.

Habitat for Humanity, backing self- build in Peckham, has an online directory with a section for the Midlands.

The Self-build Book – Broome & Richardson –

Selfbuild 123 – timber frame houses

Green Building Store

Self build houses:






science capital logo

Birmingham based Science Capital aims to create a sustainable and internationally recognized hub of entrepreneurial science that contributes to the development of an innovation-driven economy. To this end, it offers a programme of interactive events, bringing together a mix of leaders from university, start-up, SME, industry, investment and legal settings who are interested in working together to address emerging opportunities and explore new partnerships.

Science Capital’s focus is on the West Midlands, a region with 13 universities and colleges which employ over 3,150 academic leaders and generate over £200m of research income annually. These organisations are increasingly charged with developing intellectual property, collaborating with industry and spinning out enterprises.

Its audience includes entrepreneurs, SME directors, investors and business experts—anyone interested in emerging technologies and R&D-intensive companies.

Innovation-related events in the West Midlands

  • Innovative Healthcare 2016: From Molecular to Cellular at the Binding Site on October 11.
  • West Midlands Labour Finance and Industry Group (LFIG) Friday Club: Birmingham City Council Leader John Clancy presents The Future of Birmingham and the West Midlands at PWC on March 4
  • Fit for the Future Workshop: Climate Ready and Low Carbon Economy Good Practice, BVSC Digbeth on March 8
  • Movers and Shakers on Investment and Regeneration: Liz Peace CBE, Chair, Curzon Urban Regeneration Company and John Clancy, Leader, Birmingham City Council at the Macdonald Burlington on April 22
  • Made in the Midlands Manufacturing Exhibition at the Wolverhampton GTG Training Centre on May 12


Note also Science Capital’s blog and ‘In the Press’ section (home page)


tommy2-robinsonIn December, former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson (left) formed a UK branch of Pegida, a German organisation founded in Dresden. The International Business Times describes Pegida as an anti-immigration group set up to halt what it sees as the “Islamisation of the West”, holding well-attended protests across northern Europe. Their protests in the UK are said to have fared poorly to date.

On December 4th Robinson told IBTimesUK: “Birmingham is where most of the terrorists have been from, it’s where six Muslims who wanted to blow us up were from – the continued epicentre for terrorism is Birmingham.”

The decision to hold a Pegida UK rally in Birmingham has been condemned by the city’s leading politicians. A joint statement, issued on Monday 7 December, was signed by Council leader John Clancy Cllr Robert Alden (leader of the Birmingham Conservatives) and Cllr Paul Tilsley (leader of the Birmingham Liberal Democrats).

Tommy Robinson toned down his rhetoric:

“The rally – which we’re calling a ‘silent walk’ – will be a march in Birmingham on February 6th, with some speeches at the end. We don’t want any confrontation. There will be no alcohol allowed, no masks allowed and no racists allowed. If there are opposition rallies, we don’t want to go near them. We’ve asked the police where they think the best and safest place for us to march would be. We just want to walk peacefully through the streets. Why have these Birmingham councillors got a problem with that?”

Andrew-Smith 2Canon Andrew Smith (right: Director of Interfaith Relations for the Bishop of Birmingham) has now circulated an appeal to Birmingham’s churches, mosques, synagogues, gurdwaras and temples, trade unions and community groups.

It calls on the police to explore whether this provocation amounts to an incitement to racial and/or religious hatred and to use all of their powers to prevent people of whatever background, from being intimidated in the city centre next Saturday, 6th February.

And ends: “As proud people of Birmingham, we wish to declare that Pegida are not welcome and have nothing to offer our city — apart from a huge bill for policing and the clear up operation after they have gone”.

As yet the only online access found for the text of this message is on this website, which carries a list of signatories to a pledge to affirmative action.


Council leader John Clancy writes ‘Building housing here and now is our first priority’ and to this Our Birmingham adds a recommendation to reuse empty housing.


Instead of looking at ‘developing’ green spaces in Sutton Coldfield, Harborne and on Solihull’s floodplains, why not renovate empty buildings such as this long-neglected Georgian terrace (above) sadly lining Highgate’s Moseley Road?

Justin Parkinson wrote an article in a December BBC News Magazine with a comprehensive account of empty housing in Britain from which this graph was taken.

housing 2empty 2015 graphFrom a study of government statistics for England by Empty Homes

empty homes text 2015

Councils in England can charge owners 50% extra in council tax if owners leave properties empty for two or more years – a deterrent for many, but by no means to the wealthiest investors.

Another power is a compulsory purchase order, applicable only if officials can show they’ve tried to encourage the owner to bring a building back to “acceptable” use.

Community Campus ’87 was formed by a group of concerned individuals who were motivated to do something about the growing crisis of youth homelessness on Teesside in the mid 1980’s.The primary aim was simply to provide housing with support, to enable homeless young people to gain the skills and experience to get and then keep their own place to live.

empty homes campus workers

Ian Cockerill, one of the founding members of Campus, reports that in 1987 they saw over 350,000 jobs disappear across the north east almost overnight. The life chances for the young were limited. Those who were young and homeless after a poor start in life, had even fewer. Housing accessible for homeless young people was in the private sector, expensive to the tax payer in housing benefit terms, lucrative for the provider but of desperately poor quality and security of tenure. He remembers:

“All around us empty property stared back, assets in our community, public and private, working for no one, wasting away. We decided we would do something about it and we did”.

empty homes campus project

In the early 1990’s, the Key Skills Project was born and developed in Middlesbrough – it later led to the formation of Community Campus Trading Ltd. The project focused on renovating empty properties which presented a working environment for homeless young people and the opportunity to gain valuable construction skills and qualifications in construction, building maintenance, painting and decorating services. Once the renovations were complete, good housing was available to these young people.

A model for Birmingham to consider – reminiscent of the early practice of Balsall Heath’s Jericho housing project.

Housing –1 may be seen here.