The Guardian: "Tiny and £1,100 a month: corporate answer to flatsharing in London"

Squeeze in to web site

"The rooms are tiny, the rent is about £1,100 a month, tenants have to share kitchens – and the view is over one of London's bleakest skylines. But the creators of what they claim is the world's largest 'co-living' scheme, opening next week, believe it is the 21st-century alternative to that traditional rite of passage for twenty-somethings arriving in the capital – flatting.

"The Collective, a new 550-bed tower in Old Oak billed as 'a new way to live in London', is the corporate answer to the dilemma facing new workers in the capital hunting for a flat and someone to share the costs. It claims to give tenants – the first move in on Monday – a hassle-free, collective life similar to a student hall of residence, but for people starting out on their career.

"Its sleek modernity is a far cry from the Young Ones, but it's also a long way from the New York shared living of Friends. The majority of rooms are just 10 sq metres and relatively expensive compared to the traditional flatshare in London’s inner suburbs."

Link to web site
"Collective living's fine for students but for everybody else it stinks"
"The government may have shown no interest in improving the lot of renters, but luckily for them, the private sector has. The Collective promises to be a 'new kind of property company', and its website pitches it as a cross between a Silicon Valley startup, a worker’s soviet and the Polyphonic Spree. 'As the UK's first and the world's largest co-living provider,' it tells us, eyes fixed on the horizon of a bright new dawn, 'we create innovative living and working spaces for the creative and ambitious.' What this means in practice is that you get a room in a student hall of residence for grownups overlooking Willesden Junction freight yard.

"There are many things about all this that are anger-making, but the first that leaps out at you is the price. The rooms are going for the low, low price of £1,083 a month, or almost exactly half of the average Londoner’s take-home pay. And for that, remember, you don’t get a house or even a flat. You get a room that’s about three metres square, which is fine if you’re a sulky teenager but not great if you're 30; as well as a bathroom, and a two-ring kitchen hob you share with a neighbour."

Transport Minister visits Wells House Road, Midland Terrace and the Old Oak Lane Triangle estate today (it keeps him out of mischief)


The Guardian: "More rent than pay a mortgage: the Tory dream for London has crashed and burned"

"The capital is now a city of tenants, proof that the Thatcherite property hegemony has had its day"

Limk to web site

"Politics often lags behind reality. But when the two get too badly out of sync, what’s produced is disaster. For proof, look at the catastrophe that is housing in London. We are in the final strait of the capital's mayoral race. An odd, ugly and racist contest, it is also a remarkable one – perhaps the first housing election ever held in postwar Britain. Housing is the thing that Zac Goldsmith, Sadiq Khan and the rest of the candidates bang on about the most – rightly so, as it’s the biggest topic for voters. Yet the terms used by politicians are as inadequate as the policies they devise.

"Take one of the lines most commonly trotted out: that this is a crisis for London’s young, who can’t afford to get on the property ladder. One of Britain's most respected thinktanks, the Resolution Foundation, has been digging through the government's own figures and given me exclusive access to its analysis for the capital. Perhaps its single biggest finding is this: the proportion of Londoners who own a home with a mortgage has been sliding since the early 90s – and has now dipped below the number who rent privately. In John Major's time, less than 20% of all Londoners rented privately, now that is in the mid-30s, and marching up to 40%."


CityLab: "A One-Stop Guide to Designing the Streets of the Future"

"A recently published report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials includes insights from dozens of officials and practitioners across North America."

Link to web site

"Not all urban planners or city governments agree on what kind of street designs are best. But one thing remains clear: Cities who want to plan for the future must prioritize transit accessibility.

"To aid this process, the National Association of City Transportation Officials has devised a Transit Street Design Guide, which contains insights from 18 different transit agencies, as well as officials and practitioners in 45 North American cities.

"The guide functions as a one-stop shop for designers, city planners, and all those interested in improving the safety and efficiency of their streets. While it serves as more of a toolbox than a prescriptive rule book, here are some of the main takeaways..."


Scrubs Lane: Aurora Developments Ltd. ("The company will be brought on-shore from Guernsey.")

L&Q Housing Association: Report on Use of Outdoor Spaces

"The research indicates that a key barrier to greater use of the outdoor spaces is that the purpose of the space is unclear, and as a result it is putting people off using the spaces or wanting anyone else to use them. The lack of clarity about the purpose of these spaces is creating tension as people’s different expectations are not being met.

"The interviews revealed that management approach is usually to identify the cause of the problem and prohibit or prevent the problematic activity so that the source of conflict is removed.

"However as a result of this management strategy, the outdoor spaces are becoming more like ornaments, peaceful places for looking at, as opposed to a functional social resource.

"Despite the incremental restriction on uses, this 'look but don’t touch' feel of the spaces seems to have been intentionally integrated into the design."


Construction News: "Simon Kirby on safety, skills, cost savings and HS2's future"

Old Oak Common station [Hmm.]
Link to web site

"2016 is already shaping up to be a crucial year for High Speed 2.

"Its £350m engineering design partner has been chosen and nine bidders for phase one’s £11.8bn civils packages have been shortlisted. Perhaps most importantly, its hybrid bill has passed through the Commons.

"Now, HS2 chief executive Simon Kirby can turn his attentions to the companies that will build the UK’s biggest infrastructure project.

"Speaking exclusively to Construction News, his message is clear: 'Contractors should expect to go way beyond where they have on any project like this'."


Construction News: "CN Briefing: Old Oak and Park Royal CEO takes part in Construction News Twitter debate" (Debate? That's somewhat over-egging the pudding)

"Asking the CEO of a major client to sit behind a desk for an hour and do nothing but look at Twitter is not a typical Construction News request.

"Even less so when that CEO happens to be in charge of the UK’s largest future regeneration project - one that will deliver 25,000 homes, 65,000 jobs and an HS2 and Crossrail-connecting transport hub that will rival King’s Cross.

"At 650 hectares in size, the Old Oak Common and Park Royal scheme is serious business, and Victoria Hills, at the helm, is intent on its eventual success.

"But in these early stages of the project's progress, success is as much about communicating clearly with local residents, businesses and authorities in the areas nearby - something Ms Hills is equally serious about.

"The CEO spent an hour to take part in Construction News’ Twitter Q&A session about the mammoth scheme.

Contractors’ chance to shine

"Ms Hills fielded a question on what her client, Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, are looking for in contractors interested in the working on the regeneration.

"Her answer? Firms that are committed to working in smarter ways and which demonstrate 'exemplar' sustainable credentials.

"For contractors that step up to the mark, 'this is an opportunity to shine on a global stage,' added the CEO.

Skills crisis = opportunity

"Positively, for a scheme that will generate in the region of 65,000 jobs, the opportunity to make significant headway in closing the skills gap is not one the DevCo will be passing up.

"Businesses and educational institutions can expect a call - indeed, some may have already had one.

" 'We’ll work with employers to map skills needs, and colleges to ensure [the] right courses are in place,' tweeted Ms Hills.

" 'We already have agreement from [council partnership West London Alliance] @WLA_tweets, seven boroughs, seven further education and two sixth-form colleges to address [the] skills gap.'

Early engagement

"With a consultation period recently closed, the vision for this flagship regeneration has taken a step closer, though a further consultation to be held later this year means work on the ground isn’t expected to start for some time.

"Despite that, here is a client commited to engaging early and openly, not just with the industry, but with the public, too.

"With communities becoming smarter, better connected and more informed, this is perhaps an indication of how major clients can make their plans more visible - led by those at the very top."

Catch up on the whole Twitter Q&A session here.


Socio-economic regeneration in the OPDC area

Our Socio-economic Regeneration Strategy Outline

This stategy was approved by the board in January 2016, focusing on the following objectives:
  • Establishing a liveable new place at Old Oak, with new homes, accessible facilities and attractive neighbourhoods enjoyed by residents, employees and visitors
  • Delivering a new commercial centre for London that attracts investment, supports established, new and innovative businesses to thrive and grow, creating thousand of new jobs
  • Protecting and strengthening Park Royal industrial estate and supporting its future competitiveness
  • Providing education and training to improve life chances, and equip new and existing residents to compete in the economy of the future
  • Promoting good health and well-being in the planning and development of the new neighbourhood.

Projects in development

We are building the evidence base and relationships with the boroughs and key partners to develop projects to unlock the regeneration potential of the area for local people and businesses. These project include:
  • Park Royal Business Plan – engaging with local businesses to develop practical actions to remove barriers to growth and create long-term opportunities
  • West London Construction & Future Skills Campus – upskilling local residents to fill apprenticeships and vacancies created through early developments on site, the HS2 construction programme, and regeneration projects across West London
  • Supply chain development – building capacity among small, medium and large businesses to compete for contracts generated from new infrastructure and investment in the area
  • Future talent pipeline – informing, inspiring and equipping young people to make successful careers in construction and London's future growth sectors
  • Innovation hubs to stimulate new economic activity within the new developments at Old Oak, and through intensification of Park Royal.

A Socio-economic baseline of Old Oak and Park Royal was published by GLA Economics on 17 March. Commissioned by OPDC, it will be used to measure the impacts of the major regeneration project at Old Oak and wider area over time:
  • The objective of Working Paper 74 is to provide a baseline of socio-economic and demographic indicators against which to measure the impacts of the Old Oak and Park Royal regeneration project over time.
  • It analyses a number of different socio-economic indicators of the immediate area in and around the Old Oak Park Royal Development Zone, the wider region that surrounds the Development Zone, and compares with indicators for Greater London.
  • This baseline will be used as a reference point in future years to measure changes in these indicators to assess the impact that the regeneration project is having on the Old Oak and Park Royal area.

LetsRecycle: "Powerday to pay £1.2m after EA prosecution." (The fully monty)

"A London waste management and recycling business has been ordered to pay more than £1.2m after pleading guilty to historical waste offences at Harrow Crown Court.

Powerday Plc was sentenced for offences relating to two separate cases, which saw more than 17,000 tonnes of waste deposited and stored illegally.

Fines were imposed amounting to £1 million* and the company agreed to pay the Environment Agency’s costs of £243,955.35 for the investigation and prosecution.

The Agency brought the first case for alleged offences involving the receipt and storage of large quantities of hazardous waste at the company’s main operating site at Old Oak Sidings, Willesden in 2010.

The second case related to offences which occurred at a site operated by Aylesbury Mushroom Farms Ltd at Elmwood Farm, Black Bourton, Bampton, Oxfordshire in 2012 and involved the deposit of approximately 3,000 tonnes of non-hazardous trommel fines originating from the Willesden site.

Powerday, a family-owned firm, had previously admitted its guilt to the offences in relation to both sites.

According to the Agency, the offences at the Willesden site involved approximately 14,500 tonnes of hazardous waste (including construction and demolition waste containing asbestos, contaminated concrete and treated wood) that came from development sites in London and from a power station in Nottinghamshire.

At a previous hearing at Harrow Crown Court the company had argued it was legally entitled to store more than 10 tonnes of certain types of hazardous waste at the site in accordance with its interpretation of the permit. However, following legal argument, His Honour Judge Barklem ruled in favour of the Environment Agency and found that the permit did not allow the company to store more than 10 tonnes of such hazardous wastes at any one time at its Willesden site.


The Oxfordshire case had been transferred to Harrow Crown Court to be sentenced at the same time as the Willesden case.

Powerday had previously agreed in court to remove at its own cost the 3,000 tonnes of waste deposited at Elmwood Farm, and this removal had been completed in 2015. The Agency claimed that the waste had been deposited with the permission of the operator of the farm, but not in accordance with any relevant environmental permit or registered exemption.

Four others, including the owner of the farm, had been previously sentenced for offences relating to the same operation at Oxford Crown Court, and in respect of one offender, at the local Magistrates’ Court.

Counsel for the company informed the court that the cases were now several years in the past, that the company had corrected and improved its systems and procedures, and that it had developed excellent working relations with the regulator, the Environment Agency. The company and its managing director had apologised to the court for the historic failures which had given rise to the offences.


Following the conclusion of proceedings, Mick Crossan, owner of Powerday, said:
"We are pleased to have a resolution, although we remain frustrated that the case got to this point.

We acknowledge that there was a breach arising from an ambiguity in the Waste Management Licence at Old Oak Siding dating back to 2005. However, we had operated and openly reported our activities to the EA for a number of years and were subject to regular inspections from various officers and EA audit.

As soon as we were notified of a potential breach we stopped relevant operations.

The parties worked together over 18 months to agree a new Environmental Permit which clarified previous areas of ambiguity which we have operated successfully ever since.

In the years since the issues came to light, Powerday has continued to drive forward with industry leading standards at our state of the art Materials Recycling Facilities at Old Oak Sidings and Enfield. Since the incident came to light, we’ve introduced improved governance and management systems consistent with the increased scope and scale of the business.

We continue to work closely and professionally with the EA. Our customers can be assured of our high standards of compliance and excellent environmental performance."

*Breakdown of fines
In relation to the Willesden operation:
  1. £350,000 for failing to comply with its environmental permit between the 31st December 2009 and the 6th of April 2010 in that it stored more than 10 tonnes of hazardous waste at the Willesden site for disposal – contrary to the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2007 (whereby that sum represented an agreed amount of financial benefit arising from the offences at the Willesden site).
  2. £350,000 for a similar offence with respect to the dates 6th April to 1st January 2011.
  3. £200,000 for treating, keeping or disposing of controlled waste in a manner likely to cause pollution or harm to human health – contrary to section 33(1)(c) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  4. In addition, no separate penalty was imposed in respect of one admitted breach of the duty of care provisions under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 and one admitted breach of the Hazardous Waste Regulations 1990.
In relation to the Aylesbury Mushroom Farm operation:
  1. £100,000 for the offence of depositing controlled waste at Elmwood Farm otherwise than in accordance with an environmental permit – contrary section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
  2. No separate penalty was imposed in respect of one admitted breach of the duty of care provisions under section 34 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

The Guardian: "Neoliberalism – the ideology at the root of all our problems"

Link to web site

"Imagine if the people of the Soviet Union had never heard of communism. The ideology that dominates our lives has, for most of us, no name. Mention it in conversation and you'll be rewarded with a shrug. Even if your listeners have heard the term before, they will struggle to define it. Neoliberalism: do you know what it is?

"Its anonymity is both a symptom and cause of its power. It has played a major role in a remarkable variety of crises: the financial meltdown of 2007‑8, the offshoring of wealth and power, of which the Panama Papers offer us merely a glimpse, the slow collapse of public health and education, resurgent child poverty, the epidemic of loneliness, the collapse of ecosystems, the rise of Donald Trump. But we respond to these crises as if they emerge in isolation, apparently unaware that they have all been either catalysed or exacerbated by the same coherent philosophy; a philosophy that has – or had – a name. What greater power can there be than to operate namelessly?

"So pervasive has neoliberalism become that we seldom even recognise it as an ideology. We appear to accept the proposition that this utopian, millenarian faith describes a neutral force; a kind of biological law, like Darwin's theory of evolution. But the philosophy arose as a conscious attempt to reshape human life and shift the locus of power.

"Neoliberalism sees competition as the defining characteristic of human relations. It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency. It maintains that 'the market' delivers benefits that could never be achieved by planning."


Evening Standard: "Record fine for London waste giant’s pollution" (Old Oak Common's Powerday)

Link to web site

"One of the biggest waste-management companies in the South-East has been given a record fine over illegal treatment of hazardous material including asbestos at its huge Willesden [Old Oak Common] depot.

"Powerday, run by London Irish rugby club co-owner Mick Crossan, disposes of waste for major clients including Barratt Homes, Berkeley Homes and Carillion.

"The firm was ordered to pay more than £1.2 million at ­Harrow Crown Court for offences related to two separate cases which, ­combined, saw more than 17,000 tonnes of waste deposited and stored ­illegally. The record fine came under tough new sentencing guidelines for environmental crimes."


The Observer: "Boris Johnson’s dire legacy for London"

"As London mayor Boris Johnson prepares to leave City Hall, pity his successor, faced with ill-planned developments that could turn the capital into one of the highest-density cities on the planet"

Link to web site

"When Boris Johnson first ran for London mayor, in 2008, he promised not to create 'Dubai-on-Thames', the parade of riverside towers intended by his rival, Ken Livingstone. Oh no, of course not. What the city is actually getting, as he prepares to leave for possibly higher office, is a Dubai-on-Westbourne, -on-Lee, -on-Effra, -on-Bollo Brook, -on-Quaggy, and indeed on most of the obscure tributaries and secondary rivers of the capital, as well as on the Thames, and many of the spaces between them. For, as is possibly now dawning on a wider public, it is hopelessly naive to believe that Johnson believes something when he says it. You didn’t think he really meant it, did you? Ha ha ha. What a card he is.

"It's not just about tall buildings, although the number of towers higher than 20 storeys proposed for London now stands at more than 400. It’s also about bloated, bulging, light-blocking buildings of medium height, and about the limited attempts to insist on design quality, or to get new developments to create neighbourhoods that are more than a sum of their parts, or have any meaningful relationships with the areas into which they are inserted.

"In the dying days of the Johnsonian empire, several proposals indicate the sort of city he is leaving behind. Some are hoping for a final signoff before he goes, in the manner of outgoing American presidents pardoning their disreputable mates, or to benefit from the inattention of the election and interregnum. Some will be in the in-tray of his dazed successor."


Land in the OPDC area (What are the Treasury's conditions? Was the OPDC around for 20 years, but now 30? What if the North Pole depot is there for more than 20 years?...)

"Land in Old Oak and Park Royal"
"OPDC's boundary area of Old Oak and Park Royal spans 650 hectares and a large portion of the land surrounding Old Oak station, north of Wormwood Scrubs, is brownfield and publicly-owned by central Government.

"In a pioneering approach to accelerate delivery of the largest regeneration scheme in the UK since the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Mayor has secured an agreement in principle from Government to transfer all the public sector and central Government owned brownfield land around Old Oak to OPDC for redevelopment.

"This exciting news means that OPDC can accelerate delivery of homes and jobs in the UK’s largest regeneration scheme.

"The hard work will now begin as the Corporation goes through the fine details to fully secure the land transfer for this relatively unknown area of west London."

"What's the deal and who's it with?"
"OPDC is set to become the lead developer for Old Oak and Park Royal in west London and will deliver the largest regeneration scheme in the UK since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"In a pioneering approach, the Mayor has secured an agreement in principle from Government to transfer all public sector and central Government owned brownfield land around Old Oak to OPDC for redevelopment. This land surrounds the HS2 and Crossrail station super-hub, which is set to open in 2026.

"The announcement in principle secures OPDC's proactive approach to be innovative, open for business and set on achieving the coordinated regeneration of the whole Old Oak and Park Royal area. Over the next 30 years, OPDC will ensure that benefits from HS2 and Crossrail are maximised and the delivery of 25,500 new homes and 65,000 new jobs is achieved.

"The agreement in principle is to deliver the UK’s largest regeneration opportunity and is a deal between Central Government, the Mayor of London and OPDC - the Mayor’s second Mayoral Development Corporation (MDC)."

"What land and how much?"
"A large portion of the land within OPDC's boundary area of Old Oak and Park Royal is brownfield and up until now publicly-owned by central Government. The large portion of land surrounding the Old Oak Station area, north of Wormwood Scrubs (the land coloured blue in the image) is the land that the Government has agreed in principle to transfer to OPDC.

"The total boundary area under OPDC's control is 650ha and the core development area of Old Oak is 134ha. Of this, the public sector owns, and is now releasing, 97ha which equates to approximately to one hundred football pitches.

"This land transfer is the outcome of the earlier commitment made by the Chancellor in the 2015 Autumn Statement to bring all central Government publicly-owned land around the new Crossrail and HS2 station into single control. This new approach was then taken forward and announced as part of the 2016 Spring Budget.

"This innovative approach to land ownership was welcomed by the Mayor as it will give OPDC full planning and development control to drive forward the UK's largest regeneration site and‎ create a brand new, thriving part of the capital with 25,500 homes and 65,000 jobs, as outlined in the Opportunity Area Planning Framework (OAPF). This pioneering approach is also important for creating sufficient land and development receipts to fund the area's infrastructure needs.

"The OAPF guides the creation of distinctive character areas within the masterplan boundary. For example, the area of Old Oak South, comprising of land between the Grand Union Canal and Wormwood Scrubs, is envisaged to become a new town centre serving the wider area and is also set to act as a major commercial quarter for London. All of the land in this area is currently publicly owned and much is currently being used operationally for railway maintenance and depots.)"

What will the land transfer mean?
"Currently, there are various public bodies with land interests immediately surrounding the HS2 and Crossrail station at Old Oak. Once the land transfer is complete, the master-planning for a new commercial and residential area around the station will be considered comprehensively by a single organisation, OPDC. This will include all the associated economic and financial benefits, massing, permeability and phasing of development.

"The transfer of this land, will provide certainty over the speed at which the development can happen. The publicly-owned land, which is due to be transferred totals 97ha, which equates to approximately one hundred football pitches. The development capacity of this area is 12,000 homes and over 46,000 jobs, which is 74% of the total combined housing (25,500) and job (65,000) outputs anticipated for the whole site.

"By transferring the land to OPDC a number of assets will be pooled to create a single strategic entity that has land assembly, town planning and infrastructure delivery powers. This combination will increase the ability to achieve the full potential of the area, particularly the delivery of the overall vision for the area."

"What are the benefits?"
"The final agreement to transfer central Government land holdings to the OPDC will:
  • allow OPDC to use its planning, development and regeneration powers in a coordinated way and to channel the full expertise of OPDC, GLA and TfL into delivery of the regeneration project, creation of the much needed homes and jobs that London needs and Londoners deserve, and the growth of the city;
  • give clarity and certainty to investment and development partners and the public, on total land ownership and delivery of the vision;
  • ensure local accountability, understanding and market knowledge garnered through the OPDC’s on-the-ground expertise and relationships; and
  • provide a route for OPDC to capture downstream value and cross-subsidise delivery of the infrastructure necessary to underpin the development and growth of this part of the city, London and the UK."

"What happens next and what to do if you’re interested?"
"In light of the land announcement, the following projects will be ongoing over the next two-and-a-half-years:
  • OPDC to undertake detailed due diligence work to enable smooth transfer of the government owened land
  • OPDC to work with HS2 on the station design and maximise opportunities for over station development
  • OPDC to investigate potential for capturing future business rate uplift (e.g. tax, increment financing)
  • OPDC to develop a detailed masterplan, infrastructure plan and funding strategy
  • OPDC to work towards securing outline planning consent for in 2018/19
  • OPDC to secure development and investment partners.
"If you're interested to find out more, you can get in touch with the OPDC team by signing up to our newsletter, following us on social media or emailing us info@opdc.london.gov.uk."


BBC London News: Mayoral election transport issues. (Top and tailed by Old Oak Common interviews)

Video capture by Barnet Bugle

'100 Resilient Cities': "Future-Proofing Cities: Bristol Starts Planning for a More Resilient Character"

"Produced by Arup to mark the occasion of the launch of Bristol as one of 100 resilient cities and featuring George Ferguson and others. This video considers the definition of resilience, what it means to be resilient and how cities can move towards this."
"100 Resilient Cities — Pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) — is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century.

100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks—earthquakes, fires, floods, etc.—but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis.

"Examples of these stresses include high unemployment; an overtaxed or inefficient public transportation system; endemic violence; or chronic food and water shortages. By addressing both the shocks and the stresses, a city becomes more able to respond to adverse events, and is overall better able to deliver basic functions in both good times and bad, to all populations.

"Cities in the 100RC network are provided with the resources necessary to develop a roadmap to resilience along four main pathways:
  • Financial and logistical guidance for establishing an innovative new position in city government, a Chief Resilience Officer, who will lead the city's resilience efforts;
  • Expert support for development of a robust resilience strategy;
  • Access to solutions, service providers, and partners from the private, public and NGO sectors who can help them develop and implement their resilience strategies; and
  • Membership of a global network of member cities who can learn from and help each other.
"Through these actions, 100RC aims not only to help individual cities become more resilient, but will facilitate the building of a global practice of resilience among governments, NGOs, the private sector, and individual citizens."  [Link]

Link to web site
Future-Proofing Cities: Bristol Starts Planning for a More Resilient Character

"Bristol, as its elected mayor George Ferguson is fond of pointing out, is a city that likes to do things differently. One of only a handful of UK cities with an elected mayor, the European Green Capital for 2015, Bristol prides itself on creativity, innovation and sustainability – factors that, presumably, were key to its inclusion as one of Rockefeller Foundation's first tranche of 100 Resilient Cities, a programme intended to help cities "better address the increasing shocks and stresses of the 21st century".

As part of the bid, Bristol committed to developing a resilience plan – the first, tentative formulations of which were discussed at the launch of the city's 100RC project on 4 March. This workshop event brought together local government, the third sector and infrastructure-related businesses to contemplate the concept of resilience for Bristol.

Longer term, this process will be led by a chief resilience officer – a post funded by Rockefeller – with a mandate to build cross-sector partnerships; the city's strong track record in this kind of partnership working, as evidenced by the successful Green Capital bid, seems to have been another factor in its selection.

The Guardian: "What's the world's loneliest city?"

"In Tokyo, you can rent a cuddle. Loneliness is a health issue in Manchester. And perhaps nobody is as isolated as a migrant worker in Shenzhen. But can we really know what makes a city lonely?"

Link to web site

" 'New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness, if you have no inner stabiliser,' wrote Henry Miller after moving back to the city following almost a decade in Paris. It could be expected that the Brooklyn-born novelist would have been happy to return, yet something didn’t sit right:

" 'In New York I have always felt lonely, the loneliness of the caged animal, which brings on crime, sex, alcohol and other madnesses.' Miller didn't hurt for friends or charm – he was married five times – but he saw himself as an outsider, 'forever and ever the ridiculous man, the lonely soul', and it was his hometown that brought on this fever of loneliness.

Could Miller's words be evidence that New York – where countless people have gone to find fame, work, love and even themselves – is the loneliest city in the world? Or is it possible that the person, not the place, was the source of Miller's discontent? And if so, what is the loneliest city?


BBC: "Tomorrow's buildings: Is world's greenest office smart?"

Link to web site

"The Edge office building in Amsterdam prides itself on good coffee, lots of natural light - no desk is far from a window - and a gym that allows you not just to get fit but also to contribute to the energy supply of the office.

"It also flushes its toilets with rainwater, has a robot security guard that will challenge you if you wander around at night and a whole range of clever technology to make the building sustainable.

"The developers behind it, Dutch firm OVG, liked it so much that they moved in when it was finished.

"So is the office that has already been dubbed the world's greenest, really as smart as it seems?"

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