Goldsmith Street in Norwich has been named as the winner of the 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize. The honour is awarded annually by The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to the UK’s best new building.
The architecture award, first established in 1996, is presented to the architect of the building thought to be the most significant of the year for the evolution of architecture and the built environment.
Goldsmith Street, designed by Mikhail Riches with Cathy Hawley, is comprised of almost 100 ultra low-energy homes for Norwich City Council.
In contrast to the higher-rise flats in the surrounding area, Goldsmith Street is arranged in seven terrace blocks, with rows of two-storey houses bookended by three-storey flats, each with their own front door.
The outside space sees the back gardens of the central terraces share a secure alleyway for children to play together as well as a wide landscaped walkway for communal gatherings, which runs through the middle of the estate. Parking has been pushed to the outer edges of the development.
The project meets ‘Passivhaus’ environmental standards and is a passive solar scheme, designed to minimise fuel bills for residents.
Measures to maximise solar gain include: all homes face south, every wall is over 600mm thick, and the roofs are angled at 15 degrees to ensure each terrace does not block sunlight from homes in the street behind.
The 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize judges, chaired by Julia Barfield, said: “Goldsmith Street is a modest masterpiece. It is high-quality architecture in its purest, most environmentally and socially-conscious form.
“Behind restrained creamy façades are impeccably-detailed, highly sustainable homes – an incredible achievement for a development of this scale. This is proper social housing, over ten years in the making, delivered by an ambitious and thoughtful council. These desirable, spacious, low-energy properties should be the norm for all council housing.
RIBA president Alan Jones said: “Faced with a global climate emergency, the worst housing crisis for generations and crippling local authority cuts, Goldsmith Street is a beacon of hope. It is commended not just as a transformative social housing scheme and eco-development, but a pioneering exemplar for other local authorities to follow.”
David Mikhail of Mikhail Riches, said: “Goldsmith Street’s success is testimony to the vision and leadership of Norwich City Council. We thank them for their commitment and support. They believe that council housing tenants deserve great design.
“It is not often we are appointed to work on a project so closely aligned with what we believe matters; buildings people love which are low impact. We hope other local authorities will be inspired to deliver beautiful homes for people who need them the most, and at an affordable price.”
Goldsmith Street beat shortlisted projects Cork House in Berkshire, London Bridge Station, Nevill Holt Opera in Leicestershire, the Macallan Distillery and Visitor Experience, Moray and the Weston at Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
New research from Action on Empty Homes reveals the fastest rise in the number of long-term empty homes in England since the recession.
An additional 10,983 homes were left empty in 2018 – an increase of 5.3 per cent, which is more than double the 2.6 per cent rise seen in the previous year. The new figures mark the second consecutive year with a substantial increase in the amount of long-term empty homes, reversing the previous trend of steady declines seen since 2008.
Across England there are now more than 216,000 long-term empty homes, equivalent to 72 per cent of the government’s annual new homes target.
The report shows empty homes occur in all Council Tax bands but are particularly prevalent in the highest band (Band H) and in the lowest band (Band A). It also reveals the increase in long-term empty homes is not limited to one area of England.
Two thirds of the country’s 326 local authorities are experiencing a year-on-year uplift. More than a third of local authorities are seeing uplifts greater than 10 per cent; while more than one in ten is witnessing an increase of 30 per cent or more. Five local authorities including Portsmouth, Southwark and Hartlepool have all seen surges of more than 50 per cent.
The analysis says the increase in empty homes is being driven by the end of the Coalition Government’s Empty Homes Programme, which finished in 2015. It had used several targeted funds to invest £216 million in bringing over 9,000 long-term empty homes back into use. The recent slowdown in the housing market is also a factor.
The report makes recommendations for tackling the issue, including a national investment programme targeted at areas with high levels of long-term empty homes; re-establishing dedicated funding programmes to support local authorities and housing providers to create affordable housing from long-term empty homes in all parts of England; and supporting community-based regeneration approaches.
Reducing the number of empty homes also has huge cross-party parliamentary support. A ComRes poll of MPs commissioned by Action on Empty Homes shows that 72 per cent of MPs polled rank action on empty homes as one of their top two priorities for combating the current housing crisis. More than 80 per cent supported targeted funding for local authorities, charities and local organisations to buy, lease or refurbish empty homes.
Will McMahon, director of Action on Empty Homes, said: “With homeless numbers at their highest levels in over a decade, it makes no sense to leave hundreds of thousands of homes standing long-term empty. Like the housing crisis, empty homes are a national problem, two-thirds of councils have rising numbers. National problems need national solutions.
“The Government must provide a solution for every street in Britain. Significant investment is needed to turn around communities that have faced under-investment for decades, and all local councils need new powers to take action. England’s 216,000 empty homes are everyone’s problem and everyone’s opportunity. The time for action is now.”
Local authorities will be able to access a pot of nearly two million pounds to preserve the country’s Green Belt for the future.
The money is being put aside to clampdown on illegal developments, including on the Green Belt. 37 local authorities will be able to use a slice of the fund to hire enforcement officers, use new technology and help meet the legal costs of tackling rogue developers and developments.
Councils will be receiving the cash from the Planning Delivery Fund – a one-off cash boost to assist with the costs of protecting locations with significant areas of Green Belt land.
The move is part of Housing Minister Rt Hon Esther McVey MP’s drive to protect the Green Belt for generations to come. Speaking at the annual RESI Convention in Newport, McVey announced that 37 councils would be receiving a total of up to £50,000 each to help with the crackdown.
McVey said: “Once the Green Belt is built on it’s often gone for good that’s why we are determined to protect it. The public have told us loud and clear they want it kept for future generations to enjoy.
“The funding announced today will help councils clamp down on rogue developers, giving the areas with the highest levels of Green Belt the funds needed to punish those who build illegally.”
The National Planning Policy Framework issued by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government states that ‘The government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.’
It continues, ‘Green Belt serves five purposes:-
(a) to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
(b) to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
(c) to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
(d) to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
(e) to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.’
Reforms to the national planning rulebook last year maintained the strong protections on the Green Belt, which protect an area’s character and prevent urban sprawl. Only in exceptional circumstances can land in the Green Belt be built on.
Alongside the cash boost for councils, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is teaming up with the Royal Town Planning Institute to overhaul the national enforcement handbook.
The updated handbook will provide the latest best practice and expertise on shutting down illegal building and preventing it from happening, whilst ensuring developers obtain full planning permission before any building work commences.
Click for a list of councils who applied and were successful in receiving the funding.
The number of pubs in London has fallen by more than a quarter since 2001, but new figures from City Hall show a change in the downward pattern. Between 2017 and 2018 the count remained stable, with a handful of the capital’s boroughs even increasing their numbers.
The figures, published by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, identified 3,540 pubs in the capital in March 2018 – an increase of 10 pubs from 2017.
A total of 11 boroughs saw an increase in pubs, with numbers staying the same in nine boroughs, but falling in 13 boroughs.
The boroughs to see an increase were Brent, Bromley, Croydon, Hackney, Harrow, Islington, Lambeth, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth and Westminster.
The figures come after the Mayor revealed last month that the number of grassroots music venues in the capital has risen in the last year and the number of LGBTQ+ venues remained stable for a second year running, following a decade of decline for both.
Despite ongoing pressures, the traditional London pub remains a key part of life in the capital. A City Hall survey shows 74 per cent of Londoners think that they are important for the London’s cultural heritage, with 45 per cent visiting a pub at least once a month.
The main reasons for a visit are to socialise with friends (68%) and eat (27%). Pubs are also an important attraction for tourists, with previous research showing that 54% of international visitors visited one during their stay in the capital.
The mayor’s measures to support the pub trade and London’s cultural venues include: tough new planning rules to protect venues in his draft London Plan, establishing a Culture at Risk Office to help support pubs at risk of closure, and calling on the the Government to review its valuation policy for pubs following large rises in business rates.
As with the rest of the UK, London has seen a decline in pub numbers for decades, with the number of small pubs in London falling by more than half between 2001 and 2018.
However, these new figures show signs of improvement as the number of both small and large pubs in the capital have increased very slightly between 2017 and 2018. There are now more large pubs in the capital than there were in 2001.
Employment across the pub sector has also remained stable between 2017 and 2018 at 46,000. However, despite recent improvements, a large proportion of jobs in London pubs continue to be paid below the London Living Wage.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London pubs have been a key part of our capital’s heritage for generations, helping to unite Londoners and acting as a vital hub in the community.
“Sadly their numbers have been falling for decades, which is why I’ve been doing all I can to support the trade and turn this tide of closures. I’m encouraged by these results, but with pressure from rates, rent and development, it’s crucial that the Government and local authorities give them their full support too.”
Hannah Wright, of The Leytonstone Tavern, said: “After being empty for four years, and saved at the last minute by a community asset order, we were anxious but incredibly proud to give the neighbourhood back its pub.
“For us, a pub is more than just a place where you serve drinks. It’s a sanctuary for the whole community, existing to help people create real human connections and feel a sense of worth. And it needs to serve its locals.”
Affordable housing provider Torus has been picked to develop Liverpool FC’s Melwood training ground site.
The housing group currently has 1,600 homes in the West Derby area, where the ground is situated, and manages around 40,000 social homes across the north west.
In 2017, LFC secured planning consent for a proposed redevelopment of the club’s existing training ground at Melwood, as part of plans to invest in a new training facility for the first team and academy sides at Kirkby.
Throughout the tender process, Torus was identified as the best socially responsible housing developer to take over the Melwood site.
Work on the new training ground at Kirkby started in summer 2018 and is expected to be completed in summer 2020. The first team will start the 2020-21 season from their new home in Kirkby.
Andy Hughes, executive vice president, operations and finance at Liverpool FC, said: “Today marks another significant milestone in this hugely important and ambitious project.
“It is with a heavy heart that we announce the sale of the Melwood site having played such a significant role in the club’s history. But the site is limited in terms of space and is unable to accommodate the club’s ambitions for a new first-class combined training facility.
“It’s over two years since we started this journey and we’d like to thank everyone who has been involved, particularly local residents in West Derby for their feedback and patience during this tender process.
“All funds from the sale of the Melwood site will be reinvested back into the first-team squad and the state-of-the-art training centre at the new Kirkby site.”
Torus will continue to consult with the local community as it develops its plans for the Melwood site.
Chris Bowen, managing director of Torus Developments, said: “With more than 1,600 homes in the area, we’re already a long-standing part of the West Derby community, so being selected to develop this site at the heart of the neighbourhood means a great deal to us.
“Consultation with local residents is very important to us and we look forward to meeting with the community in due course. We will also be working closely with LFC to ensure the legacy of this incredibly historical site is a theme throughout.
“Our plans are still at an early stage but will be driven by providing quality affordable homes that address local needs, including specialist housing provision where older people and those with additional care needs can lead sociable, fulfilling and independent lives.”
Fortress and Castle team member Becky Wilson stormed the Thames Path Mighty Hike this July, raising thousands of pounds for charity in the process.
The scenic route, which is approximately 26 miles, follows the iconic Thames river from Windsor to Henley. Participants are estimated to take between 7.5 hours and 12.5 hours to complete the course.
Becky, who took on the challenge as part of a group of 11 family and friends, reached the finish line in position 30 out of over 2000 people taking part on the day. Her partner Mark came in next, in position 31.
Becky and Mark en route.
And at the finish line!
The 11-strong team have so far raised a huge £5239.77 for Macmillan Cancer Support, with that total currently still rising as pledges are received for their achievement.
All money raised from the event goes straight to Macmillan, with each entrant raising a minimum of 250 pounds as a condition of entering the event.
Macmillan provides emotional, physical and financial support for people living with cancer. For more information on their fundraising events click here.