I am not a fan of Jim O’Neill (the man who ‘invented’ BRIC), for reasons I won’t go into here, but I recommend that you listen to this programme on BBC Radio 4 ‘Fixing Globalisation’ – link here:
In this Jim has his eyes opened to the point that it is Neoliberal Globalisation which is the problem not globalisation itself.
It is Neoliberal Globalisation, focused on benefiting the rentiers and the financial systems which is failing and giving an interconnected world a bad name. The programme highlights that where globalisation is working better for most ‘ordinary’ people it is in countries which have refused to implement the neoliberal model.
In the programme Jim seems to have recently woken up to the issues and problems with Globalisation which I have been talking about for more than 30 years – even before I worked in economic, environmental, social and physical regeneration and sustainable growth.
Anyway, the programme is well worth listening to.
But what has this big picture stuff to do with the Regeneration and Sustainable Growth of cities, towns and places in the UK? Well, it is because it is easier to make a difference locally if we have a better (and sensible) national and world economy within which to work. We need to have not just ‘Places which Work for People’ but a world (and economic system) which works for everyone.
I have been surprised that I have seen no-one from the property development and investment industries talk about, or even mention in passing, the effect of the Business Rate Revaluation on the rents they can charge for commercial premises.
Everything else being equal, if the cost of running a business goes up because of increased Business Rates, businesses can’t afford to pay as much in rents.
In the short-term there isn’t much most businesses can do about this. But when the time comes for lease renewals or rent revaluations it could be that tenants push for no or low increases. New lettings may even achieve lower rents than is currently the case.
Along with this comes a whole range of possibilities and scenarios for the commercial property and development industries, and even the economy at large. Yet, I have heard no one talking about this – until today.
Derwent London’s Chief Executive, John Burns has today said that an average rise in business rates in London of 10% will increase pressure on tenants, saying “we will have to see how it goes”.
I think this “we will have to see how it goes” is the first recognition that the Business Rates Revaluation will affect the rents which can be charged and made to stick, and thus development values.
I think this is good – it is better that the tax payer gets the money to spend on infrastructure and services than the landowners get this free, unearned gift. The only thing missing is the removal of the Business Rates Cap, where the total amount raised is capped and only uprated by the rate of inflation– we don’t cap the amount which we raise from income tax and change the rate charged accordingly, so why do this with business rates? There is lots we could do with this additional tax income.
If we leave the development and regeneration of cities to only one form of capital (economic) we will get a one dimensional city which only works for one section of society.
I recommend an article by Philippa Nicole Barr of Macquarie University as a good read about how we need to bring together all forms of capital: social; cultural; intellectural; political; and natural; in order to balance the effects of economic capital so as to make ‘Places Which Work For People’ – all people.
I give a taste by quoting a paragraph here:
“The redevelopment of existing communities and the construction of new urban areas is frequently funded by private companies looking to make a high return on investment. This is achieved by high-value sales or rental rates. But without regulation, these processes create conditions that exclude or disempower poorer people within cities; for example, by limiting access to public spaces or making rent and home ownership unaffordable. One recent study revealed that, compared to other groups of people, poorer renters move more frequently into disadvantaged areas, each time experiencing a decline in their living standards”.
Link to the full article:
What has Hip Hop music and gang culture to do with Urban Regeneration and Urban Planning?
On Friday I watched the BBC4 programme ‘Rubble Kings’ which told the story of how gang culture in parts of New York came out of the damage done to inner-cities by top-down urban planning and de-industrialisation, and how eventually gang leaders decided that other gangs were not the problem; and instead of fighting each other they needed to fight ‘the man’ by coming together, and to re-build their areas from the bottom-up instead of taking what the top-down was willing to ‘give’ them. Part of this community rebuilding came from Hip Hop music and the music scene.
I recommend you view it – there isn’t much Hip Hop music in it as the programme is really about regeneration rather than music.
Link is here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b07vxmxw/rubble-kings?suggid=b07vxmxw
I can recommend the BBC Programme which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of The Severn Bridge (‘The Severn Bridge at 50: A High Wire Act’). You can find it on BBC iPlayer here –
I particularly liked the contribution from Michael Parson (around 05.58 minutes): As a new civil engineer, fresh out of Bristol University, “I was in charge (it’s a job to imagine it nowadays) of writing the specification for the new bridge. I was the only one working on it.”
I think this experience has lessons for us in 2016, when we are hearing warnings about skills shortages in the UK’s infrastructure and construction industries, which will delay or prevent the delivery of many large projects and programmes which the UK needs to deliver.
Instead of looking for people with exactly the ‘right’ experience; and moaning when we can’t find them, we need to give opportunities and responsibilities to young, newly qualified engineers (or indeed older workers with different experiences). This is what we had to do at a time when resources were still scarce in post-war Britain, and as we can see from The Severn Bridge a good job was done.