Urban Update 20 May 2016

Download Urban Update 20 May 2016

High Speed Rail Explored: Report Launch

HSR and Connected Cities  The Independent Transport Commission Leeds on Monday 16th May 2016.

Report by Laura Alvarez – UDG East Midlands

“We are one year ahead of construction. The High Speed Railway is happening…” said Patrick McLaughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport.  He added that “the UK is set to have the best High Speed Network in the world”, noting our strong engineering heritage and remembering how, when the rail network we still rely on was proposed back in the 1800s, it fell through in parliament because ‘the canal network was perfectly adequate’. We need to prepare for the future, he said. Henk Bouwman reflected on how 50 years ago we could have not envisaged the internet, the use of laptops and mobile phones, and that it is difficult, if not impossible, to imagine how life will be 50 years from now.

Prof Hans de Jonge explained another issue is the management of scales and a good way to overcome this in the Netherlands was integrating local and corporate business through design and events programming.

The dialogue must start with a blank piece of paper, stressed Prof Peter Bishop, with true bottom-up processes where the design process is collaborative from day one at a local level. Bridget Rosewell agreed, adding that modelling analysis is not the way forward because places are made by people and variables cannot predict human attitudes and behaviours, adding“People have to make the place, not be told how to make it”.

Making place is key to success, working closely with Community Interest Companies, Universities and local groups is essential, stressed strongly Prof John Worthington, author of the report.

The event ended with a note from each main regional city highlighting their assets and key opportunities they see emerging from the scheme. The strategy from Central England will be based on identifying key industrial, manufacturing and energy assets, and ensuring all cities have something to offer, complementing each other. The challenge remains to guarantee strong connectivity between main cities and smaller economies, to ensure these do not suffer economic loss. A strategy to supply all necessary skills (from planning to engineering) also needs to be put in place.


The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP– Secretary of State for Transport

John Worthington MBE– Project Chairman, Independent Transport Commission

Bridget Rosewell OBE– Commissioner, National Infrastructure Commission; Non-Executive Director, Network Rail.

Henk Bouwman– Director, The Academy of Urbanism; Director, Urban impulse; Secretary-General, METREX; Lead Consultant, ITC HSR Review

Hans de Jonge– Professor in Real Estate and Development Tu Delft, Chairman Rotterdam Central Station District Public Private Partnership, Founder Master City Development post graduate degree (Erasmus University and City of Rotterdam) 

Prof Peter Bishop– Professor in Urban Design, The Bartlett, UCL; Previously Director of Environmental Services LB Camden, Design for London, Deputy CEO London Development Agency

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Full report…



Inequality and Lighting – LSE Report Launch

This report, released last week, asserts that public lighting improves people’s lives, but that poorer areas are often insensitively, unattractively, or harshly lit.  The report recommends that people’s needs and views should be understood, and this is best done on a site by site basis.  New lighting technology is becoming available which is cheaper, and could make public lighting more attractive and sensitive to users.  To do this, housing associations, and local authorities need to change their approach and give lighting more financial, technical and organisational support.

Mark Major of Speirs Major gave a keynote presentation, telling of how he takes people around different parts of a town or city, and asks people what they think of the lighting.  Generally he finds that people over-estimate light levels.   He gave the example of the paving immediately in front of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, where light levels are only 5 times moonlight, and the centre of the square is darker still: people are surprised as they feel the area is adequately lit.  Many people are denied the luxury of darkness.


Light doesn’t reduce crime

There is a received wisdom that “improved” lighting reduces crime.   The most authoritative review of research in this area to date, is a Campbell Collaboration study “Effects of Improved Street Lighting on Crime”  Brandon C. Welsh, David P. Farrington published in 2008.   


One would expect that a new lighting scheme would have no effect on daytime crime,   However the effect is substantial.  The review found “that nighttime crimes did not decrease more than daytime crimes.”    Light is not the issue..  The Campbell review goes on … “This suggests that a theory of street lighting focusing on its role in increasing community pride and informal social control may be more plausible than a theory focusing on increased surveillance and increased deterrence.”  This is the general line of work that has been followed by the Prosocial Place Unit at the University of Liverpool, that improving the quality of the environment where people live, including the quality of maintenance, changes the way they view others, and the way they conduct their lives.