Links valid two weeks according to sendGB although New Town Home Town is hosted by the BBC.

City of Towers – Christopher Booker

City of Towers – Youtube – no sound

Three Streets in the Country – Michael Frayn and Dennis Marks

Three Streets in the Country – Youtube

New Town Home Town – Colin Ward

New Town Home Town – 1/5 hosted by the BBC

Architecture for Everyman – Patrick Nuttgens

The Country and the City – Raymond Williams

The Country and the City – Youtube

“Back in 1979, I made a BBC documentary called City of Towers, charting how the futuristic dreams crystallised in the Twenties by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier had led to the high-rise nightmare that blighted Britain’s cities in the Sixties. The film won some acclaim – not least, surprisingly, from some of the modern architects whose work it had featured, from Maxwell Fry to Richard Seifert, creator of the Centre Point tower.”

“But when, some years later, there were calls for the programme to be repeated, Mr Yentob startled a BBC meeting by expostulating that the film would only ever be shown again “over my dead body”.”

Five years ago I wrote “Why sink estates exist” in despair at the course right to buy had taken and the growth of buy to let mortgages.  Now Stephen Farrall of the University of Sheffield has written a similar piece only based on data rather than hearsay. I’ve reproduced it here with permission under the Creative Commons Licence.  The article was originally published on The Conversation.

Thatcher helped people to buy their own homes – but the poorest paid the price

Stephen Farrall, University of Sheffield

It has been 25 years since Margaret Thatcher gave her final, tearful speech as prime minister of the UK on the steps of Downing Street. In the decades since, we’ve had time to get to grips with the legacy left behind by one of the most polarising figures in British politics. Cutting through the visceral, ideological storm she left in her wake has been no easy task, and our research has found that the story told by the data is more complex than we could have imagined.

Read the rest of this entry »

Five years ago I attended Progressive London 2010 at which Karen Buck was speaking, among others.  She identified then the problems that will come to pass with the Governments recent attack on tenure.

Karen Buck was superb with a long talk about the possible loss of secure tenure of council tenants should a Conservative Government be elected and implement the plans outlined by Localis in Principles their now infamous document on Tory proposals for council housing.

She drew a parallel with the experiences of black migrants from the American South coming to Chicago in the 1940s and becoming the victims of slum landlords while suffering the indignities of being “frequent movers”, people unable to take their place in society for want of a stable home address. [The Promised Land – Nicholas Lemann] Karen put forward the view that in the absence of secure tenure and having only an AST with two months to quit, council tenants would become a transient population, unlikely to be registered with a GP, their children changing schools, unlikely to be on the electoral register and to vote. She pointed out that Conservative think council tenants are second class citizens.

Karen Buck is always worth listening to about housing.

Council tenants lose lifetime right to live in property – The Guardian

Hits to my blog and an update from a friend in the industry have suggested that Oxford Film & TV are “making a film about council housing presented by Dan Cruickshank”.

Likely subjects are Utopia on Trial, scissor flats, the LCC architects’ department, housing design and the history of council housing.

A quick Google today has turned up this:-

Oxford Film & Television, who are currently making a three-part BBC4 documentary series called Home From Home (a working title), presented by Dan Cruickshank and created in collaboration with the Royal Institute of British Architects.

That’s one to look out for in the New Year.

DeTrafford estates Roof gardens development has started on site in Manchester.


Click photo for Skyscraper City forum and larger version of photo.

My original article here

Nearly three months ago I drove to Norwich to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak. It was inspiring and in looking for a way to write up what I’d heard I searched on line for other reviews and found this.

Corbyn, on the other hand, may turn out unelectable. But he will at least spend four and a half years at the despatch box every week, speaking in a calm and measured voice about the “common sense” he represents – why can’t we build more houses? Why isn’t everyone equally entitled to an education? Or a job that pays? Or a decent childhood? Cameron will give him answers that reflect the knotty, compromised reality. But all people will hear will be Corbyn’s resoundingly simple questions. It’s The Universal Declaration Of Human Rights going head-to-head with a badly-translated MBA handbook.

Today at #PMQs Jeremy Corbyn asked David Cameron the same question six times in different ways and received in turn six different answers, not one of which was an answer to the question asked.


At Last – Etta James

Read the rest of this entry »


Click image for audio and see Tweet

If you want to skip the introductions the interview proper starts at 9m20s in.

Heard through @municipaldreams

UPDATE: 26th Serwotka banned – the PLP have really lost the plot. | Steve Bell nails it.

This comment from the Guardian, posted under Polly Toynbee’s latest epistle is worth reading, Especially the last paragraph. I’m reproducing it here in full along with the link.

[Polly Toynbee] – He made front-page FT news yesterday with his assault on “ludicrous” corporate pay, attacking Rupert Murdoch’s empire and telling bankers to wake up to Britain’s “gross inequalities”. Who disagrees with all of that? But if being right was all it took to win elections, the Tories wouldn’t be in power.

So you’re advocating being wrong?

Read the rest of this entry »


The other night Channel 4 broadcast Sex in Class and there in the title sequence, before the name of the programme had been shown, appeared this tower block, by implication in Accrington where the programme is based. However, on calling the local planning department the following morning they denied having anything over 7 storeys in their town.

The image above is a photograph of the television screen, I tried to run the C4 online catchup to get a high quality screenshot but all I get is a rotating animation and never the programme so the quality of the image above is necessarily poor.

The mystery remains. This is a scissor maisonette block as evidenced by the alternate corridors whose end windows appear on the right hand side visible in the photo above. There is one corridor for every two levels. That is how scissor blocks work. But I didn’t think there were any outside London and Glasgow and would be interested to know where this one is.

I wrote to Channel 4 and they directed me to the programme makers who have yet to reply.

If you recognise it please drop me a line to thank you.