Hitting the green

Golf courses – those in prosperous parts of England anyway – have increasingly become a target for the house building and land speculation sector. Follow their “yimby” lobbyists on social media and you’ll be told green belts around London and other wealthier southern cities are mostly given over to rich people’s golf courses. It’s purely coincidental, of course, that such […]

Darkness, light – and light-pollution

The ancient religious philosopher Mani believed in a stark dualism between the spiritual world of good and the materialistic world of evil. Manichaeism has predictably since become a clumsy description of any binary dispute. Perhaps it’s time for a revival of his more sensitive teachings. We do, unfortunately, live at a time of sharply divided opinions on most issues and […]

Storm warnings

Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Government’s decision to scrap Phase 2 of HS2 and press ahead with Phase 1, the decision has thrown into stark relief the nation’s weak infrastructure and lack of plans to deal with it. Yes, I’ve always been critical of the whole HS2 scheme which, from the start, was over-specified and ill-integrated with the […]

Red corner blues

It’s 26 years since a Labour government with a big majority replaced a tired Conservative administration. People who look back on the New Labour years, however, are inclined to bemoan its lost opportunities – a key message for the current Labour Party, as it tries not to get too complacent about the general election. Although many people, looking back on […]

Swallowed up

The news that the Government has delayed implementation of the Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) requirements of the 2021 Environment Act prompted the posting of the blog below, which I had recently written mainly for myself, to clarify and formalise some of my thoughts. For many developments, the delayed implementation is only three months, but Nationally Significant Infrastructure Developments (NSIPs) won’t […]

Just the future of civilisation. No pressure then.

In September 2023, two United Nations agencies published a report which is crucial to the future of both human civilisation and nature on this planet. It received precious little publicity. Synergy Solutions for a World in Crisis proposed we should make a start on tackling both climate goals and the UN’s 15-year old Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) together. Both climate […]

Later than we think?

Any aspiring author seeking a title for their book should take inspiration from the portrait of the 1930s by the broadcaster and journalist René Cutforth. His was a broad view of the decade, though one written from the perspective of someone who saw it end in disaster and war. He called it Later Than We Thought. I’m starting to wonder […]

Dysfunctional markets, propaganda & Goodhart’s Law

Dysfunctional Markets:  It would be inaccurate, and wrong, to bundle all land owners, developers and their consultants into the same basket accusation of entirely selfish motives. However, when it comes to the housing market, the development sector has for many years successfully appropriated the widely accepted shortage of suitable housing to advance their own interests and maximise their profits. Fair […]

But which is the real Michael Gove?

Michael Gove began his keynote speech on housing this week with a reminder. “Housing policy – the building of new homes, the stewardship of existing properties, the planning of our towns, the fundamental landscape of our lives – requires long-term thinking,” he said. “And a long-term plan.” Which is ironic when you think about it, given that this Parliament has […]

More green belt blues

While the rest of the world looks on in horror at the gathering climate, nature, food, water, economic and security challenges, Britain’s house builders at least must be purring at their ability to sucker the nation’s senior politicians. Michael Gove has talked the talk about softening English national planning policies which basically promote car-dependent-sprawl at the expense of both the […]