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Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

Category: News September 19th, 2012 by mbc

Borrowing from the New Economics Foundation (in July 2008 the NEF published a report A Green New Deal), the leader of Plaid Cymru, Leanne Wood has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and to help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

With a reference to US President Roosevelt, whose New Deal is seen as instrumental in reviving the US economy after the 1930s depression, Wood said:

Like Roosevelt in the United States of the 30s, Wales needs a new New Deal.
A Green New Deal aiming to provide skills, work, hope and opportunity to a new generation who have a right to believe that life can be better.

Amongst other proposals, Leanne Wood outlined plans for new Wales based financial institutions and tax breaks for pension funds investing in Wales that should give the economy a boost:

“Investing two or three percent of our workers assets in Wales would help transform the Welsh economy while representing no risk at all to the future returns to scheme members”.

Renewable energy production and a national home energy efficiency programme will be cornerstones of Plaid’s proposals for a greener future. Details of all these proposals these will be central to Plaid’s manifesto for the 2016 Welsh assembly elections.

…one to watch, I’m not sure that we can afford any more sprinkler laws

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Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

Category: News September 6th, 2012 by mbc

In the news today…

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

From next month, the maximum depth of rear, single-storey extensions will double from the current three metres for semi-detached homes four metres for detached homes to six and eight metres respectively. This in an attempt to cut red-tape and stimulate both the construction industry and wider economy. It will be a temporary increase, reverting to the original rules sometime in 2015.

I’m not sure that planning permission is what is stopping people from building extensions – perhaps lack of money is a more overwhelming factor… But this may well be the green-light that home-owners need to get building.

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Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

Category: News May 18th, 2012 by mbc

I wanted to share an article I recently found on Boing Boing. It’s an interview with Lloyd Khan, one of the fathers of geodesic domes. From his early life, through his career to his recent work with small homes the article makes an interesting read.

Lloyd is an admirable figure, seemingly very much his own man and is someone with whom I share a deal of empathy:

I like builders and I like farmers, because they have to deal with the real world.

His current work is in the development of self-build, small homes, a pragmatic and empowering solution to some of the world’s many current housing crises.

But you can start out small. And it’s an incredibly powerful movement right now. I like the idea of starting out with your core, which is your kitchen and bathroom, and your wood heat if that’s what you’re going to do, and your solar heated water, all in this core. Then you’ve got a place to sleep and cook and eat. And then you start adding on

You may also be interested in the further information & video about Lloyd Khan contained in this previous post.

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Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Category: News April 4th, 2012 by mbc

With the National Planning Policy Framework still fresh and being ruminated over, one theme that is never far from thought is sustainable development. With the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

The NPPF document opens with this:

International and national bodies have set out broad principles of sustainable development. Resolution 42/187 of the United Nations General Assembly defined sustainable development as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs*. The UK Sustainable Development Strategy Securing the Future set out five ‘guiding principles’ of sustainable development: living within the planet’s environmental limits; ensuring a strong, healthy and just society; achieving a sustainable economy; promoting good governance; and using sound science responsibly.

Resolution 42/187 is a reference to the report ‘Our Common Future’ produced by the Brundtland Commission in 1987. The Brundtland Commission was established in 1983 by the United Nations with the goal of uniting countries to work together in the pursuit of sustainable development. The Commission was dissolved at the end of 1987 following publication of the report.

In the Brundtland definition, there are two key concepts of sustainable development:

  • The concept of needs. The basic, essential requirements for human life, weighted toward the world’s poorest people, who should be given overriding priority,
  • The idea of limitations as imposed by current technology and social organisation on the environment’s ability to meet both present and future needs.

The report also identifies three pillars of sustainable development – economic growth (economy), environmental protection (environment) and social equity (society).

So that’s the background. The NPPF takes this a step further with those five guiding principles:

  1. Living within the planet’s environmental limits,
  2. Ensuring a “strong, healthy and just society”,
  3. Achieving a sustainable economy,
  4. Promoting good governance,
  5. Using sound science.

Those are basically, the three pillars with firm foundations of good governance and sound science. This is further spelt out in the Framework:

…to achieve sustainable development, economic, social and environmental gains should be sought jointly and simultaneously through the planning system. The planning system should play an active role in guiding development to sustainable solutions.

So far, so clear. I hoped that the framework would further explore each of these areas to provide greater clarity and provide narrower definitions that could facilitate meaningful debate. In that I was disappointed, the five principles remain bones with very little flesh on them except what we can imply from the framework. The words governance and science don’t even appear in the report again after that opening quotation.

I know I’m being unreasonable, I know that this is a framework and there’s still plenty of work to do. But currently, the answer to the question “just what is sustainable development (currently in the UK) ?” seems to be “it depends” and that is more a lawyers charter than anything else.

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* I quite like the acronym ELF – Environment, Local people, Future

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Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

Category: News April 1st, 2012 by mbc

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quotation that is particularly pertinent to the current state of the economy, planning climate and the challenges faced by rural communities:

“It is a matter for serious thought that at periods of financial stress it is always beauty that is sacrificed upon the altar of expediency.”

Sir Patrick Abercrombie, co-founder of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.

Sir Patrick Abercrombie seems a fascinating character, however there isn’t much information about him available on-line, I’d love to find some more sources of information, quotations etc…

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Progress

Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)… With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need […]

I’m having a moan on twitter… https://twitter.com/barnconversion/status/368427314868396032

A lovely Flemish barn conversion

I love the interior of this conversion and the great use of horizontal slats on this conversion. I retains the essential ‘barnyness’ of the building… flemish-barn-by-arend-groenewegen-architect

Coming soon, my barn conversion guide… Interesting earthship greenhouse project on Kickstarter

I really like this Kickstarter project >> The Farm of the Future: Earthship-Inspired Greenhouse This project is “Prototyping the First 100% Off-The-Grid, Affordable, Low-Maintenance Greenhouse using Earthship Principles and Aquaponics“. If any of those words meaning anything to you you’ll be interested in the project if not, pass it by… It’s already funded so I […]

Barns

Barns Gallery on Remodelista

There is a lovely gallery of barn related inspirational photographs available on Remodelista.

Barns – the Long House

Situated on the North Norfolk coast, this is a building to admire…

Barns – the Balancing Barn

A stunning piece of architecture, although not entirely to my taste…

New fast-track planning permission for the development of barns proposed

The Daily Mail reports on a new fast-track route through planning controls for the conversion of barns…

De-assembled, re-assembled, re-cycled barns

“A bit like a private sector, modernising, repurposing St Fagan’s…”

Design

What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Architecture

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

The 2012 Stirling prize was won by a outsider, the Sainsbury Laboratory…

The Stirling prize 2012

I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist…

Our engineers … our architects – Le Corbusier

The efficient, shiny world of construction in 1923…

Design in Storage

When designing a layout it’s easy to forget to plan for storage…

News

Green Deal slow beginnings?

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start… As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline. 71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such […]

The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Eric Pickles vague compromise on planning reform keeps the house happy (for now).

Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example… It’s reported today that the […]

Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on the green belt…

Green Deal Launch

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week. Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … read more …

Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

The leader of Plaid Cymru has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

I wanted to share an interview with Lloyd Khan that I recently found…

Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Sustainable development – with the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quote from Sir Patrick Abercrombie…