Birmingham International HS2 – A car Park or New Urban Hub

Another expensive piece of this overpriced, inadequate and unnecessary rail line. Meanwhile our existing transport system continues to fall apart.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Birmingham Post

The Government is being urged to upgrade plans for a Midland high-speed rail interchange in a bid to create a gigantic new urban centre.

The Department for Transport has been formally asked today to alter its blueprints for the Birmingham Interchange HS2 station near Birmingham Airport by development body UK Central Solihull Urban Growth Company (UGC).

Its ambitions for a major mixed-use development near the airport could add billions to the local economy – but it feels the current HS2 plans do not go far enough.

Published plans for the site comprise just a ‘parkway’ rail station and car parks serving the HS2 high-speed line between Birmingham and London, due to open in 2026.

Now the UGC has outlined the major changes it wants to see to the controversial transport scheme to deliver the infrastructure needed for a fully-connected urban quarter – with HS2 at its heart.

Original vision for Birmingham Interchange HS2 station in Solihull

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Narrow roads squeezing buses out of new estates

Unfortunately, Stagecoach have chosen the wrong target when trying to find somebody or something to blame for this problem.  It’s not the planning rules, it’s the lack of them.  The drive for deregulation across many areas of government, has seen minimum road widths disappear and developers allowed to get away with doing the absolute minimum.  The only rules that seems to apply these days are those about visibility splays, to ensure that views are sufficient for a driver to pull out into traffic safely.

once again the politicians have allowed the developers to hold sway over common sense and good planning, creating blighted estates for generations to come.

Copied from The Times online

Narrow roads squeezing buses out of new estates
Graeme Paton, Transport Correspondent
July 31 2017, 12:01am,
The Times
Stagecoach says high-density developments are being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators need 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors
Stagecoach says high-density developments are being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators need 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors

Residents on newly built housing estates are being cut off from the bus network because developers are failing to construct wide enough roads, according to public transport bosses.

One of Britain’s biggest operators warned that buses were being forced to avoid many estates amid concerns over narrow roads, sharp bends, overzealous traffic calming and parked cars.

Stagecoach said that high-density developments were being built with roads only 6m wide, when operators needed 6.5m to allow two buses to pass without clipping wing mirrors.

It blamed planning rules that have cut road widths or pushed the layout of sharp bends to keep car speeds down.

The company also said that national guidelines introduced by Labour 17 years ago intended to clear roads of cars by providing less off-street parking had backfired, with many motorists leaving vehicles on the street.


Stagecoach has issued its own guidance to councils, urging them to build roads at least 6.5m wide, with sweeping bends and off-street parking provided.

It also said that “shared space” schemes that seek to declutter streets by stripping out kerbs, road markings and traffic signs should be redesigned to “avoid buses straying into areas intended mainly for pedestrians”.

Nick Small, Stagecoach’s head of strategic development for the south, said examples included the Shilton Park estate in Carterton, Oxfordshire, where the company could not operate a full-size bus, and the Kingsway development, Gloucester, which had areas “impenetrable by buses”.

Daniel Carey-Dawes, a senior infrastructure campaigner at the Campaign to Protect Rural England, said: “Bad design will lock our towns and countryside into toxic congestion and car dependency for decades.”

Martin Tett, housing and transport spokesman for the Local Government Association, said: “We will be looking closely at this blueprint and continuing to work hard to deliver places where our communities can thrive.”

Developers Plan to Ditch Sherford Design Code Stymied

Well done to the committee for sticking with their policies and not allowing developers to pressure them in to watering them down. Hopefully the inspector, at the inevitable appeal, will agree.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Plymouth Herald

Alas Devon CC still ruins everything by insiting on Asphalt pavements

The Princes Trust tweeted support for the decision.

Code here

Sherford developers have been blocked from scrapping a strict set of design rules – as councillors said the move would have created a “zombie town” with “years of planning thrown out of the window”.

Housing firms applied to ditch a town code drawn up 13 years ago and replace it with a set of “fundamental principles” allowing greater flexibility over materials and construction methods.

Consortium bosses denied the move would affect the quality of new homes, but members of the planning committee were not convinced.

Cllr Jonny Morris (Lab) said he did not want Sherford to end up like Poundbury in Dorchester, which he described as the sort of place you would see “in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse”.

Cllr Vivien Pengelly (Con): “I am deeply…

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City Planning Chief wants Less Glitzy Architecture

Good luck with trying to prevent architects from convincing their clients that their project needs to outdo the ones built before it.


Just like the recent comments by others, that the heart of London is being overwhelmed by sky scrapers, with the most notorious being the one that has blighted the wider view of St Paul’s Cathedral.

I believe somebody in the London planning system actually offered a sort of apology, for not considering the impact on a world heritage asset from the wider perspective. Too little, too late.

Super shiny vanity projects seem to be the order of the day for those wishing to squeeze the maximum floor space into their high priced piece of inner London.

So whilst the well-heeled residents of London are busy digging down to get more space from their investment – being a home seems to be secondary, most have several across the world – the commercial sector are feverishly wrecking the historic London skyline, all in the name of maximum profit.

Although we should be justifiably worried about destroying the environment and the planet with it, for future generations, we also need to protect our own heritage for future generations.

Personally, I’m not particularly optimistic, given our appetite for eventually adopting every bad habit the USA has. The market always wins.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions


Carolyn Dwyer says the corporation will tend towards more ‘harmonious architecture’ in future

The head of planning at the City of London Corporation has said she wants to see less glitzy buildings go up in the Square Mile in future.

Carolyn Dwyer (pictured) was appointed two years ago as director of the built environment at the Corporation of London, the City’s local authority. She took the job after Peter Rees stepped down as the City’s chief planning officer three years ago. He had backed Rafael Viñoly’s controversial Walkie Talkie skyscraper built by Canary Wharf Contractors.

Dwyer said the corporation wants to see “slightly calmer and more harmonious architecture” in future.

She added: “We have to have architecture of the best possible quality that delivers for 21st-century needs, but every piece doesn’t need to be a stand-out landmark building. We are not developing individual tower blocks that stand alone on…

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Did we dodge the bullet in Lincolnshire? This NAO report is no help to us really

National Audit Office questions combined authorities’ economic benefits
By Hiba Mahamadi | 10 July 2017
There is inadequate evidence to suggest that combined authorities deliver improved economic outcomes, a report published by the National Audit Office has said.

Auditors assessed draft monitoring and evaluation plans for combined authorities in the West Midlands, the North East, Greater Manchester, West Yorkshire and the Tees Valley.

They found that while authorities were working to link spending with outcomes and impact, the results varied in quality.
Accountability and scrutiny may also be compromised in combined authorities, the report added.

The report found the Greater Manchester Combined Authority had experienced difficulties retaining representatives on its scrutiny and audit committees.

It also found that many authorities have had to take staff from transport and other local authorities.

Court of Appeal holds #NPPF presumption does not apply where Local Plan is up to Date

Yet again the courts are required to step in a to clarify the mean of the ‘much simplified’ NPPF, because another court had got it wrong. Working a treat at making the planning system easier and capable of delivering the increased housing we need isn’t it?

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Kings Chambers

The Court of Appeal has today handed down judgment in the East Staffordshire Borough Council v Barwood Land II LLP appeal. The Court upheld the judgment of the High Court which quashed an inspector’s decision on the basis that he wrongly treated the presumption in favour of sustainable development as applying despite having accepted that the local planning authority could demonstrate a five year supply and there was no other relevant deficiency in the development plan (i.e. it was not absent, silent and relevant policies were not out of date for any other reason). The Court of Appeal has therefore definitively confirmed that the benefit of the presumption can only be obtained in the circumstances defined by NPPF para.14 and that Mr. Justice Coulson’s view to the contrary in Wychavon District Council v SSCLG is wrong. The Court also took the opportunity to explain the operation of NPPF para.14 more generally…

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Planning By Resistance – How The Powerful Divert Development to Poor Areas

Yet another extremely bad habit learnt from our American cousins.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

In an outstanding PHD thesis from 2013 Robert Morrow coins the term ‘Planning by Resistance’.

this dissertation explains the origins and impact of Los Angeles’s slow-growth, Community planning era between the Watts (1965) and Rodney King (1992) civil unrests. …
The dissertation explains how the slow-growth movement was facilitated by the shift from top-down planning during the progrowth, post-war period to a more bottom-up Community planning…

The project illustrates the dramatic land use changes that occurred during this period – first, the down-zoning of the City by 60% in the initial community plans in the 1970s, and the subsequent shifts in residential densities as homeowners shapedlocal community plans. These shifts were strongly correlated to socioeconomic characteristics and homeowner activity, such that areas with well-organized homeowner groups with strong social capital were able to dramatically decrease density as a means of controlling population growth, and areas with few to no homeowner…

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