Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Exit stage left persued by a bear

The 'jungle' that is Jesmond Vale and the dark and mysterious Ouseburn in this high Summer heatwave.

Slide show here (off site link).

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lofty motives

It looks like the entrance to smart offices, maybe a headquarters building. It is student apartments.

It seems a week doesn't go by in Newcastle than another apartment block is slated to 'open its doors' this year or next. Is there a sustainable demand? Well that's not quite the point. The spur is investor's looking for a safe bet for hot money.

The Guardian explains all here. (Off site link.)

Bubble I hear you mutter? The sometime top comment under the Guardian piece was this puncturing analysis.

'By the time there's a puff-piece in the Graun, you can be sure that what is actually happening is that incumbent investors are trying to offload to the dumb money. Adverts have started to appear that market single rooms to investors, in the same way that hotel rooms were sold to wide-eyed investors the last time there was over-capacity in the hotel industry; this is a sure-sign that cracks are starting to appear in a 'must-have' investment.
If you really want to do a deep-dive on this industry, then maybe ask how the debt-financing of developers is being guaranteed by state-financed student loans; the short-term cash-flow of the developer is thus rock-solid because the defaults are pushed twenty to thirty years out and borne entirely by the state. Remember that the only thing that is now unacceptable is capitalism for capitalists.'

My emphasis added. I imagined something like this myself when the bubble began to inflate; perhaps I should branch out into financial journalism? ... On line gambling? (Don't!)

More on Newcastle's 'Klondike' student housing bubble here (Off site link: The Evening Chronicle.) The comments below this article are worth reading. My own impression is that students are bringing very little vibrancy and life to the district; with en suite super fast broadband, why would they bother to go out and mix with the local colour? Snacks to keep them going are delivered to the plate glass entrances of these humble villagers pads by Deliveroo cyclists. The developers are, if anything, pushing diversity and variety out of Ouseburn and Shieldfield.

Portland Green Student Village looks nothing like a village. It looks like a collection of corporate dwellings one might expected a distribution hub and warehouse design and build company, Metnor, to have built, which is exactly what has happened. The village is now owned by some hot rods from Asia. Putting up Newcastle's bereft and clueless city planners against such people is like letting children play on line gambling ...

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A New Leaf

Timely article. Two mature trees have just been felled in my street and I have the uneasy feeling a mixture of enforced privatisation of street tree maintenance and pre-emptive action against 'lawfare' may be ushering in a wave of public tree felling.

The wonderful Ian Jack writing in The Guardian explains why we should value our public trees.

Read it in full here. (Off site link)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"Little boxes, little boxes ..." Revisted

Welcome thoughts on the spreading mediocrity of shanty built 'settlements' over the fast fading Green Belt here. (Off site link.)

Sprawl versus ...

The 'one size fits all' approach could be enlivened by more imaginative designs like those built at Gateshead's Dunstan Staithes development.

 ... urban renewal

Short term gain will inevitably lead to long term problems, not least build quality and maintenance.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Brown study

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (C.P.R.E.) has an up date on brownfield sites to mark a 'change of directive' to local government.

Link to posting here.

Two points come to mind and I shall make them briefly.

Tyneside has numerous undeveloped brownfield sites. They are under developed because private out-for-the-biggest-profit builders have stealthily or not so stealthily bought farmland in the Green Belt to cash in on the 'aspirational country living' market and wouldn't buil;d on brownfield unless forced to. Fortunately most are gerry builders who are being increasingly found out. Answer? Get Danish, Dutch, German or Swedish builders in to the do the job the tax evading British sprawl creators won't do.

Second point is that much of the Green Belt as it stands is merely rye grass and barbed wire. That to needs creative thinking. But is not getting any.