Climate change as a moral issue

October 16, 2015

Until recently the connection between the Catholic Church and sustainable development hasn’t seemed very obvious. Indeed Catholic doctrine on birth control has perhaps been its most important intervention and that has not been seen by many, including Catholic’s, as very helpful. So the papal Encyclical on global climate change Laudato Si’,  published in June has […]

Peter Kennard; unofficial war artist

August 10, 2015

For anyone involved in the peace movement, especially CND since the early 1980’s as I have been, Peter Kennard is a familiar name. And his photomontage posters on all aspects of peace, war and conflict are even more familiar. Think Constable’s Haywain, loaded with a delivery of Cruise Missiles heading for Greenham Common, (‘Haywain with […]

Cultural capital: creative Britain in the age of New Labour

June 24, 2015

Robert Hewison is a cultural critic and in his book – Cultural capital,  he turns his sights on what he characterises as the ‘rise and fall of creative Britain’, charting this process from the period when Tony Blair became leader of the Labour Party in 1994 and the term ‘Cool Britannia’ was coined, more or […]

Derek Diamond: a tribute

June 19, 2015

Professor Derek Diamond  died in May aged 81. He was my tutor at LSE in the 1970s  when I was  there doing a postgraduate course in Urban and Regional Planning. Derek was a leading British planner, or as he preferred to call himself, ‘an applied urban geographer’, for decades. Son of the Labour politician Lord […]

Devolution comes to the cities?

March 27, 2015

It has been interesting times for localists since the Scottish Referendum. The result and the fallout has had a bigger impact on the governance of Britain debate than some in Westminster and Whitehall seemed to imagine. This is mainly because of the ‘solemn vow’ made by the three party in the days just before the […]

Anarchy and beauty

December 21, 2014

William Morris is somebody that many people in the planning, architecture and design worlds have found inspirational. However rather than looking at the man himself, Fiona MacCarthy’s exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) to 15 January 2015, takes a look at Morris’s legacy. NPG Director Sandy Nairne, introduces the exhibition by saying that it […]

Urban regeneration the Chinese way

November 4, 2014

It is probably fair to say that most British people’s perception of the Chinese economic miracle involves bullet trains, dozens of high rise apartments and skyscraper office blocks, motorway flyovers and prestige architectural projects ranging from new airports to the Beijing Olympics facilities. This is all true. Indeed seeing it all in person is a […]

The environmental priorities of China’s citizens

September 29, 2014

I spent almost a month travelling in China earlier in the summer. It was my first visit for over 35 years. In answer to the question ‘Have you been to China before?’ saying ‘Yes, when Chairman Mao was alive’ was a bit of a conversation stopper. My intention was to learn what the environment and […]

Green Deal: energy saving or hot air?

March 26, 2014

In March 2013  I wrote about the launch of the Government’s  ‘Green Deal’.  In that article I set out what the vision was (ambitious) and the compromises that had been made to get it off the ground (messy), while expressing the hope  and some cautious optimism, that despite the complications inherent is the programme  as […]

Rebalancing Britain

March 24, 2014

 The Scottish referendum campaign is having an interesting  knock-on impact on English political debate.  The position and dominance of London – the place Scots most dislike about the United Kingdom in its present form, is being looked at more critically. There have been a couple of think tank-type report is recently , but the debate […]