Changing Newcastle 1960s-2010s

Below is a Powerpoint presentation of how Newcastle in the NE of England has physically changed from the 1960s to the 2010s. Next to it is a commentary in PDF format that hopefully will provide background so viewers can make better sense of the slide

Newcastle-Changing for Better of Worse ppt

Newcastle-Changing for Better of Worse? notes

Newcastle from air from south

The first part uses the narrative structure of a route I took when I first visited the city in early 1968 for an interview at Newcastle upon Tyne University where I had applied to study Town and Country Planning (I was accepted).

I walked from Newcastle Central station through the city centre to the Claremont Tower on the campus.  Pictures from around that time are compared to roughly the same scene in recent years. Ones featuring trolley buses or trolley bus wires will, however,  be pre-1966 when the last service ran.

The second part spotlights some other changes, with a few slides at the end exploring changes already in the pipeline or being touted by the council and other forces in the city. Some issues are posed about the nature of change, its goals and related decision-making structures. Although Newcastle got off lightly compared to many Brtish cities in terms of  ‘civic vandalism’, many of the changes were steps away from the sustainable common good, sometimes making the city even less resilient in terms of coming ecological challenges. Too often the needs of the private car dominated all else, for example.

Current plans and projections also tend to ignore the ecological ‘facts of life’ and how the future will be very different to what is widely assumed by leading decision-makers and indeed the general public. We need a radically different vision if civilised living is to be sustained and a viable home created by other forms of life with whom we share both our local ‘patch’ and the Earth as a whole.

Air pollution in world cities

In recent years, ‘traditional’ outdoor air pollution has been pushed somewhat into the background by other concerns, not least climate change, civil wars, hunger, poverty and financial turmoil. Yet air pollution causes more than 3 millon deaths a year. It is now the biggest single killer in the world.…/air-pollution-rising-at-an-ala….

See also:…/jo…/v525/n7569/full/nature15371.html

The toll is expected to double as urban populations increase and car numbers grow (set to approach 2 billion by 2050). Yet governments continue to fiddle while the Earth chokes. They build more roads, encourage the production of more cars, and subsidise the fossil fuel industries. In a growing number of cases, they are even offering ‘baby bonues’ to raise population levels and/or restricting access to famkly planning.

There is no way that ‘reformed’ growth — ‘green’, ‘sustainable’, ‘smart, what have you — can make a sufficient difference. The issue is the abandonment of the whole ‘growth project’.

Outdoor pollution has risen 8% in five years with fast-growing cities in the developing world worst affected, WHO data shows

Reviving the ‘inner city’ – Chicago

Here is an interesting story from Chicago with some pointers for inner city roads to sustainability:

CHICAGO — Little says “high tech” about Bronzeville, one of this city’s South Side neighborhoods where vacant lots and boarded-up buildings beg for attention even…

ReGen neighbourhood, Netherlands

There is a tidal wave of new build proposed across Tyneside and elsewhere in Britain. Most is new housing, though there are some infrastructural megaprojects such as HS2 in the pipeline too.

Newcastle Council is, for example, is proposing a veritable new town on its western side, saying it will be a “green” community. Such fraudulence must be challenged and one way to do it is to point to developments that are genuinely greener.

A well-known one is Vauban on the edge of Freiburg in SW Germany, built on the site of an old army barracks (…/words-most-suc…).

Here is another that puts to shame deadheads such as Newcastle council and its allies amongst the ‘volume builders’, architects of utter mediocrity:…/this-new-neighborhood-will-g…/2

ReGen Village, outside of Amsterdam, doesn’t need a grid or food systems. It’s a model for a future, fully closed-loop settlement.

Greening Los Angeles

Doubtless there will be many holes that can be pciked in this plan for Los Angeles.…/f/landing_pag…/files/The%20pLAn.pdf

Reading the finer print, there seems to be, on occasion, a conflation of energy and electricity consumption, with nuclear and HEP electricity assumed to be truly carbon-free and genuinely ‘clean’. It is not clear what vision and real acton there is for wildlife and wildlife habitat. Population dimensions seem to be sidelined too.

That said, it is streets ahead of the local development plan for my home city Newcastle and indeed most local authority and regional development plans across the UK. Councils and so-called local enterprise partnershjips are deadset on trying to drive into the future with their eyes glued to the rearview mirror. They may scatter around the adjective ‘sustainable’ but, basically, their thinking is stuck in the boom years of the 60s which they want to revive, with a few licks of green cosmetic paint added.


Green oases in big cities

The feature here on BBC 2’s Gardeners’ World on the City of London’s green spaces, including rooftop wildflower ‘meadows’ and food gardens is worth watching regarding the potential of urban environments and even small spaces therein:

Tender vegetables, bedding plants and bees are the focus of Monty’s gardening this week.