Planning committee – March 2020

New council housing on the former Eastglade school site, and challenges about how to boost its environmental features further.
New social housing by TumTum Housing Association of Woodborough Road, at the site of the former Woodborough pub site.
A homeless hostel by Framework on the site of the Mechanics Arms on Alfred Street North – with repeated assurances that the hostel would be continuously and well managed.

Planning committee tour of the Southside

Assessing progress of developments and potential developments along London Road, Boots island, Queens Road, Crocus Street and Arkwright Street.

It’s 8 months since I was elected as Chair of Planning Committee and my commitments were-
be active, be Green, have better debates, drive on money that is directed to the community; value our heritage and seek better buildings.
Active: yeah, I’ve seen more committees cancelled than possibly ever; I have written on the one that have met – 2019: December; October; July; June;
Better buildings: I often rehearse a set of simplistic mantras on building design – include a proper top to a building; announce the building any its main entrance; seek detail and decoration; celebrate the use of curves and the golden ratio;
Green: just held a presentation on greener offices; “fabric first” may well become – “fabric once you’ve got function, form and sustainability rehearsed”; now looking for a special policy document to supplement the agreed Local Plan and to meet the aspiration for carbon neutrality; also looking for using green technologies to bering detail and decoration;
Value our heritage: exhorting drawing upon lessons from The Lace Market and our Victorian and Edwardian architecture;
Money to the community: are rehearsing the processes for determining affordable section 106 contributions;
Better debates: a good range of contributions at committee; also contributing at the joint committees with County and surrounding boroughs;
Also nice that the press are regularly attending committee meetings.

Greener offices

Design sustainability into a new building from the outset.
Use natural ventilation – the era of fan driven air conditioning should be over.
Use ground source heat pumping, using the piles as the way to reach into the ground.
Don’t build above 8 stories cos serving the upper floors and carrying the weight against wind chill is too much.
Deep buildings can only work with air and light shafts.

High level conclusions presented to Nottingham architects and City Council planners.
Julian Marsh and Brian Royal making the contentions.
Supporting speech from Alan Simpson and an introduction from me.
If the contentions area supported, we’ll look to see them in a supplementary planning policy.
But we will have to work on persuading the developers too.

Simplistic Maxims for Assessing New Buildings

I am at times in awe of what architecture can do. As for the shock, you will be dismayed as to my basic knowledge of architecture and the simplistic maxims I use for assessing a building.

1. The Julie Andrews Maxim. When Julie writes, she begins with A, B, C. When she sings, she begins with do, re, mi. When she builds, she begins with bottom, middle, top. But modern buildings so often don’t bother with a top.
2. The way in maxim. Obviously, you’ve got to have a way in. All buildings pass that test. But the sense of occasion when you arrive, well I’m not so sure.
3. The Curve Index. It’s ridiculous to contend that modern buildings shun curves. Every building has curves. They have still not devised a method for taking to waste from the toilet bowl to the exhaust pipes without using a curved pipe. So every building still scores at least 0.05% on the curve index. It’s just that where I live, curves are often used used to corner buildings and it looks nice.
4. The Flat Earth maxim. The earth is not flat, and the basic proof is the sun goes down at night. For sometime, we’ve had to cope with living when the sun goes down. So what does a building look like at night?

5. The Play School maxim. Even BBCtv children’s Play School had a choice of 3 windows. Walls can do more than create a boundary, hold up floors, a roof and some windows. Detail and Decoration. So much to play with, regarding materials. So why don’t they? And what happened to the golden ratio?
6. The Tax Offices maxim. Green architecture and Green building technology often brings interest. Take our 1990’s tax offices. I was pleased for myself and for passengers when we got rid of the bottles necks to the western approaches to Nottingham Midland station, but its upside was that when you were stuck outside the station, you can take in the beauty of the tax offices. Solar chimneys for staircases; glass panels for reflection.
7. There is no number 7.
8. The Fabric First maxim might also need re-numbering. Forthcoming briefings may well be exploring consideration of a building’s depth as to whether it can be green. And it would be quite nice to have an energy statement for a building at least alongside the submission of the plans or a proposal. So fabric third?

But as in thermodynamics, these things can all overlook the obvious. In thermodynamics, the incredibly challenging concept of entropy was defined in the second law, before physicist realised they’d forgotten the basics. That heat flows from a hotter body to a cooler body. The zeroth law.

For our zeroth maxim, we might be forgiven for only adopting it last Monday, but it is this. We have to be carbon neutral. Planning laws and frameworks might not back us up. But it’s the challenge we have set ourselves in Nottingham, and hopefully, you can help us work it out.

You might be shocked that in a discipline that takes you 7 years to be qualified, I have tried to reduce the subject to 8 lines to fit on the back of a pledge card, and 8 glib lines at that. But I’m very New Labour. And sometimes, perhaps, simple tests can help.

Cattle Market

A very distinctive part of Nottingham’s offer, celebrated previously in the N Post and in the Left Lion. Some special buildings.
Busy again this morning, with auctions taking place in 5 different halls.
But some of the owners have suggested it’s not returned to the levels it was achieving before last year’s fire.

More uses for the site are suggested in the Local Plan being considered at Full Council.
It ties in with a plan to develop the Waterside more generally, and there is a pressure to provide more housing – Nottingham’s private sector rents may well be increasing at the fastest rate in the country.
It’s been reported in the N Post, but there are some riders to the coverage.

There are no current proposals for development.  
All the leases on the land have some years to run.
The council may well need the power to enable a tram route to run through the site. The N Post refers to a route from Gedling, although a more strategic priority for that route is to reach the A52 east of West Bridgford and relieve Trent Bridge. Even then, an alternative exists to follow Meadow Lane and then use Arkwright Walk.

Should it be decided to dispose of the land for development, it will not be wholesale redevelopment but more fine grained, respecting the special character of the area.  A master plan would be prepared, and subject to full consultation.
Gotta say, talk of a hotel is a tad surprising given hotels are already being ventured for the junction of Queens Road and London Road, and for the Boots Island close to the Travelodge.

Meantime, the site is not well served by public transport – something we’re looking out for as more housing is provided.
The Cattle Bridge Road junction with London Road is not especially friendly for pedestrians, although I’m not aware of a record of injury accidents that would give facilities priority over existing problem junctions in the city.

Do-Re-Mi, bottom-middle-top

BBC 4 tv has just broadcast “The Sound of Music”. 
I remember it being a big deal when first broadcast on national television on a Christmas Day in the 70s; even my Dad watched. 
The country united behind an anti-Nazi message, especially when put together well. 

Hopefully Austria is on the way back after its problems – and perhaps a future musical will draw on “Grannies against the far-right”. 

Meanwhile, some of those songs stick. Paraphrasing a statement I made at Planning committee
when you write you begin with A,B, C;
when you sing you begin with do, re, me; and
when you build you begin with bottom, middle top – and
this (proposed) building has no top.

Planning committee – December 2019

Apartments have been approved to replace the Eagle Press buildings by the Old Toll Bridge in The Meadows.

Apartments and houses along Meadow Lane and behind were also approved, although I was critical of a design of an apartment block with no top.

N Post have focussed on the student debate and I’ll add the links soon.
703 flats in Lenton, on which Cllr Chapman is reported.
222 flats on the Jubilee campus site, accessed through Lenton, on which I’m reported.

Student places are needed.
A further student block between Traffic Street and Waterway Street West is being proposed – circa 530 places.

157 apartments are to be proposed for Wallet Street at the rear of London Road fire station.