Architecture and anarchy: another world is possible

August 25, 2023

Sometimes a chance experience draws you in to exploring an idea. This happened to me on my first visit to my elder daughter’s new home in Edinburgh. I thought I knew the city well, I lived there briefly in the early 1970s, but she has a wee flat in one of Edinburgh’s ‘colonies’, a distinctive […]

15 minute neighbourhoods and the rise of climate denialism

April 24, 2023

It is a strange feeling being at the centre of a national and international ‘culture war’ storm. And even stranger that that storm is about a planning theory. But that has been how it has been for the past 10 months living on a fairly unprepossessing street off a somewhat down-at-heel main road, Cowley Road, […]

Standing at the sky’s edge

April 19, 2023

The programme for this musical which has transferred from Sheffield Crucible Theatre to the National Theatre (NT)  in London, has a powerful and informative introductory essay by Sheffield urban planner Gordon Dabinett. Not an everyday occurance in NT programmes. But Standing at the sky’s edge is no everyday performance.  The setting for the musical is […]

Digging the dirt: the archeology of East Oxford

March 7, 2023

‘The Archeology of East Oxford’ records the results of a programme of archeological work carried out in East Oxford,defined as ‘Oxford-east-of-the-Cherwell’, between 2010-2015. The area is full of interesting historical and archeological sites but as the introduction puts it: ‘External perceptions are, however, often of a mundane and unexciting nature; that Oxford’s sprawling eastern districts […]

Radical Landscapes: activism, identity and imagination in a not-so-cold climate

October 24, 2022

The land has always been a contested space.  The 2000 ‘right to roam’ legislation, despite its inviting title, only covers about 8% of land in England.  Getting outside and enjoying the fresh air and countryside were high priorities during the pandemic, and focused people’s minds on what was and was not possible. Land ownership and […]

Staight Line Crazy: Robert Moses, the planner who did

August 11, 2022

Back in the 1990s when I first became a member of the Royal Town Planning Institute I opened my first copy of its The Planner magazine with great interest. One thing I still remember from that edition was a letter lamenting the fact that architects got all the glory in Hollywood movies and that planners […]

All will be well… in time

May 4, 2022

This is the story* of a young man Ernest Thomas, at war. Thomas was born on Christmas day 1895 and brought up on Kingston Road in north Oxford, his father a ‘brewer’s traveller’ for Halls Oxford Brewery, with his mother Florence bringing him up along with three younger sisters Peggy, Kathleen (Kathy) and Marjorie.  Ernest […]

Covid-19: biodiversity’s ‘code red for humanitty’

March 30, 2022

As the world begins to breathe more freely as the Covid19 pandemic apparently starts to ease, attention is beginning to turn to the prevention of future zoonotic pandemics. The much-delayed face-to-face UN Biodiversity Conference – officially the Fifteenth Convention on Biosocial Diversity (CBD) is due to open in Kunming, China on 25 April, having been […]

Is climate justice at the heart of the Covid-19 recovery?

August 3, 2021

There were many striking images that emerged from the G7 Summit in Cornwall in June – but let’s not dwell on Boris Johnson’s early morning made-for-TV dip in the sea. Another was world leaders standing at the top of aircraft steps shading their eyes or waving to the assembled media, having just flown in from […]

The Nature of economics: the Dasgupta report on biodiversity

April 8, 2021

The Dasgupta Report on biodiversity (1) was published at the beginning of February. It is an important document on a par with Nicholas Stern’s The Economics of Climate Change published in 2006. Not least because it has been commissioned and published by HM Treasury rather than by an environment ministry.  Its timing is significant coming […]