Archives for posts with tag: urban design

Its message: the greatest need is for affordable rented housing in urban areas. Any solution to Britain’s housing crisis must include a bigger contribution from the public sector. Rather than coercive measures, the focus should be on enabling local authorities and housing associations that wish to build social housing.

Shame is poured on George Osborne’s ‘massive’ reduction of Housing Associations’ capability to invest in new housing with a 1% rent reduction per annum for 5 years: “Social housing rents are already at a large discount to private landlord rents, so this ill-advised move in one go, reduced the capital raising capability of Housing Associations”.

The FT thinks that local authorities should be allowed to:

  • set planning fees,
  • to levy taxes on idle land when developers fail to use planning permissions
  • and, crucially, to borrow in order to fund their own social housing developments.

There is a great deal that can still be done by making better use of brownfield sites and releasing public land for development. An annual tax should be levied on undeveloped land that has residential planning permission but has not been developed whether publicly-owned, or land owned privately, by companies, NGOs or agencies.

Mixed developments are being built, income from sales invested in social housing

At the end of March, Birmingham’s council newsletter reported on the completion of 251 ‘quality’ homes in Erdington. There is a mixture of social housing and houses for sale, for a range of family sizes – from one to five bedroom properties.  The income gained from houses sold from this latest development will be reinvested into the council’s housing stock of social housing. News of other social and affordable new housing in the city may be read here. Today we are reminded that a four year programme has been set up to enlist smaller housebuilders to use smaller plots of land.

Birmingham City Council won Social Housing Provider of the Year’ at the Insider Residential Property Awards in 2016. This highlighted the work of the Birmingham Municipal Housing Trust (BMHT, currently the largest provider of affordable homes per annum in the Midlands with projects in Nechells, Sutton Coldfield and Ladywood. In 2015, BMHT also won the Public Sector Award at the Urban Design Awards for its Newtown redevelopment (See architect Joe Holyoak’s article – one photo above.).

BMHT celebrated the completion of its 2,000 home milestone in March – a culmination of 1,125 homes built for rent and almost 900 built for sale since the council launched the BMHT programme.  The council plans to build around 1,800 further new homes for rent and market sale between now and 2020 in order to close the city’s housing gap.



January 26th at 1pm in the Birmingham and Midland Institute: ‘High Speed2 and Birmingham city centre’.

JH walking tour city

Architect and urban designer Joe Holyoak will reflect on the effect that the new HS2 terminal will have on the geography of Birmingham and, particularly, upon the relationship between the city centre and Digbeth. He says:

“The talk is mostly about what in urban design we call severance – the dividing up of the city by barriers, with damaging consequences. They can be man-made and intentional – the Berlin Wall – or natural – a river or an escarpment. But mostly they are man-made and unintentional, the by-product of some other intention, such as railway lines or major highways.

hs2 terminal masterplan hs2 terminal masterplan key

“In this case, the huge HS2 terminal, will effectively duplicate the barrier of the inner ring road which was demolished in the early 2000s. The design reasoning behind these two pieces of engineering is very similar, blinkered and one-dimensional. The IRR enabled cars to move a few mph faster in one dimension, but obstructed movement, of both people and economic investment, in the other dimension. Substitute trains for cars, and the HS2 terminal is a very similar animal, and I am afraid will have very similar consequences”.

Background information:

Birmingham Curzon HS2 Draft Masterplan – Part 1 (Size: 8.29 Mb Type: PDF Birmingham Curzon HS2 Draft Masterplan – Part 2 (Size: 8.84 Mb Type: PDF

Birmingham Curzon HS2 Draft Masterplan – Boundary Plan (Size: 1.65 Mb Type: PDF )

Map here: – if you have a Sat Nav, enter the postcode ‘B3 3BS’ (or B3 2BJ for the nearest parking location). The Birmingham and Midland Institute is located on Margaret Street, Birmingham.