Developer planting and public art

Just thought I would show this example of developer funded, and designed, planting in a ‘public’ place:


This style is pretty standard and wide spread now, based on a template which must be at least a decade old. Althought I am getting a little bored with this style now, if ‘we’ do have to have a template for planting it is much better than the previous Local Authority template of shrubs which collect rubbish and plastic bags.

I also came across this piece of new planting on a development at the weekend:


I quite like this idea and will have to revisit in a year or two to see how it matures.

I usually dislike the public art which developers put in place – it is usually banal: especially those featuring figures. But this one did make me stop and look – and find out that it commemorates Peter the Great’s visit to Deptford:


I am not saying it is brilliant – but it is much better than many I have seen (such as Bexleyheath Shopping Centre, and Cannon Street Station).

Let me know what is your favourite (and worse) examples of public art and public planting (or just examples if you haven’t actually got favourites).

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Fly Posting – Is this the way to recruit carers?

I have seen a number of these signs in my local high street:


Does this give you faith in the way we are running our social services?

Some may ask ‘what has this to do with urban regeneration and sustainable growth?’, and thus a subject for this blog.

As regeneration and sustainable growth is all about people I say it is very much part of what we need to be considering as part of the integrated and holisitic world of regeneration and growth – both in terms of careing and quality of employment.

What does this poster say to you about how we are treating the vulnerable members of our society (and are treating those who we expect to do the careing)?  Does it make you feel comfortable?

I have also heard that some firms which have won social service contracts are trying to recruit mums at the school gate, offering cash-in-hand, no-questions asked, “so it won’t effect your income-support benefits”, jobs.


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Erith Riverside Gardens – Visit from Mayor

One of my community projects, Erith Riverside Gardens which I saved from development, had a visit from the Mayor of Bexley today.

I thought I would pop in a few photographs of the day:





Still lots to do but the efforts of the local community have been recognised, both by this visit and the Bexley Community Award which we won in 2013.


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A new bridge across the Thames – where (and why)?

From this map can you guess where the private sector wants to put a new ‘Garden’ Bridge, for which Boris Johnson and the Coalitian Government have each put up £30m of tax payers money towards developing the Planning Application:


As you can see there is hardly a shortage of bridges in this part of London. Surely there are better things on which to spend £60m (plus the rest which will surely come)?

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Blight, Town Centres and Temporary Use

I have written before about development causing Blight in towns and how, to me, this is unacceptable having learnt from the experiences of the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

This site previously was a large COOP store in a town centre in the South East of England



It has been purchased from the COOP by a Government agency and passed on to the Local Council who will relocate their Civic Centre here.

In the meantine, it seems to be acceptable to leave a large site, in the centre of a town (a town which is fighting for survival against a nearby out-of-town regional shopping centre), like this.

This site ought to have had a Temporary Use Strategy developed for it from the moment the Government Agency decided to buy it. It fact, even before this the Local Authority should have been pushing, and helping, the COOP to develop a Temporary (or Meanwhile) Use strategy for the empty buildings which were here before demolition. 

Why is this site not being used for some sort of Temporary Use until development actually begins? There are plenty of examples and ideas around for what can be done – and I have a whole list of them in my Town Centre Regeneration Template. As just one example, why isn’t this site being used this year to sow a mass of poppies to commemorate the 100th anniversary of World War One breaking out?

Someone has made an effort to do something with the site by putting photographs of local market traders on the railings


But the budget must have run out after about £4

Come on – let us put proper effort into using empty sites and buildings, and not accept Blight (which, we must not forget means maligning the life and prospects of people and places) as part of the development process.


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The messiness of towns and mixed use

Would the Town Planners of  today allow this?:


I suspect not, but this is what makes places work.

I feel we really do need to examine what we mean when we talk about mixed-use – a phrase which is often used nowadays by Town Planners and Urbanists.

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Quick and Cheap Road Calming

I spotted this bit of road calming yesterday in central London, on my way to the British Academy.


It is not a ‘shared-space’ but it strikes me as a quick, cheap and effective way of slowing traffic down. It certainly made me stop and think ‘what is going on here’.

It will be interesting to learn whether this would work on a ‘normal’ high street.

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