Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> a Premier Inn comes to Eastern Town?

There are all sorts of developments struggling for space at Port Royal/Eastern Town:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> affordable housing at Eastern Town

The struggle that happened over Elizabeth Hall on Exmouth's seafront: 
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: and the 'managed neglect' of valuable assets
Futures Forum: East Devon and the expropriation of public space

... ended up with a Premier Inn:

Futures Forum: The Carbuncle Cup Prize for East Devon's new buildings

It is, of course, all about 'regeneration':
Futures Forum: The 'regeneration' of Exmouth seafront

And making a place 'special':
What makes a place special? Premier Inn on the seafront? | Save Our Sidmouth

The District Council certainly thinks it's made Exmouth 'special' - and as cheerleader for a private developer, its own newsfeed makes that very clear:
10 December 2014 - Premier Inn starts recruiting staff - East Devon District Council

Because it's all about 'jobs':

Regeneration and Economic Development Special Item 
- Proposed Budget 2016-17

The Council is adept at using its assets to de-risk locations and attract private sector interest. The delivery of the new Premier Inn in Exmouth and , the commercial success around Exmouth Strand are two examples of where the Council has used its land and property assets to achieve this aim. 
Agenda for Cabinet - Wednesday, 6 January 2016 (pages 107-110)

Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >>> ‘Scoping Report for the eastern end of Sidmouth’ to be presented to Cabinet >>> Wednesday 6th January
Futures Forum: "Regeneration and economic development" in East Devon >>> District Council cabinet meets Wednesday 6th January

Although the reality is not quite the promise:


10 DEC 2014

Premier Inn announces interest in Elizabeth Hall site October 2012:

December 2012 – 50 jobs available:
Premier Inn plans on show - News - Exmouth Journal

March 2013 – 50 jobs available:
‘We will boost local jobs’ - Premier Inn - News - Exmouth Journal

June 2013: planning approved

Today – 25 jobs available:
23 jobs up for grabs as Exmouth’s Premier Inn starts recruiting staff | Exeter Express and Echo

(top 2 already filled – Manager and Assistant Manager)

Jobs at Premier Inn, Exmouth: think of a number then half it | East Devon Watch

And there is great awareness of how this development was hoisted on Exmouth:

“When you look at the bigger picture, things start to make sense. In Exmouth, small businesses seem to have been driven out because they wanted to redevelop the seafront, but for whose benefit? Exmouth didn’t seem to want a Premier Inn."

‘War’ cry over future of eastern town - News - Sidmouth Herald

As for Sidmouth, there have been rumours circulating for some time now (and 'circulating rumours' is actually another way of saying 'there are substantial worries') that we might well end up with another Premier Inn at Port Royal:

... East Devon District Council ... saw, for example, that a deal could be made with a national hotel chain such as Premier Inn, to create a hotel presence in the eastern end of Sidmouth sea front around which exclusive apartments could be built.

A Future for the Drill Hall | Sidmouth Drill Hall Hub CIC

There are innovative alternatives, however:
Futures Forum: “Sidmouth needs more small shops”

Meanwhile, back in Exmouth, there has been a huge amount of anger over further proposals for 'development' of the seafront:
Futures Forum: Regenerating Exmouth seafront >>> cabinet report Wednesday 9th November >>> demonstration Saturday 12th November >>> reports

Because what's been happening at Exmouth is of great interest to Sidmouth:
Futures Forum: The 'regeneration' of Exmouth seafront
Futures Forum: Redeveloping East Devon >>> the alternatives to a heavy-handed approach

Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> affordable housing at Eastern Town

Sometime soon, the Port Royal Reference Group will be meeting up with the consultants:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: anticipating a Regeneration Board >> consultants appointed for the Scoping Study

One of the issues which the parties will have to address, during the Scoping Study and beyond into the regeneration project, will be the promise of affordable housing.

The Local Plan makes clear that:
1) Sidmouth is to have 100 new homes, plus 50 windfalls; and
2) Sidmouth's housing allocation is to be 50% affordable.

To quote from the rather embarrassing communication between  Planning Officers and agents for Pegasus over Knowle:

Turning to the issue of affordable housing the newly adopted policy of the East Devon Local Plan (Strategy 34) sets out a target of 50% affordable housing for residential development in Sidmouth. The presumption is that such affordable housing should be provided on site.

Futures Forum: Knowle Relocation Project: How to classify the proposed development: as C3 housing or as C2 care home?

In which case, we would be expecting the District Council to push for 50% affordable housing 'on site' at Port Royal:
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: the draft Local Plan and 30 new homes

To give Planning Officers due credit, they have put together an exemplary project at Mill Street in the Eastern Town:

Futures Forum: Affordable housing in Sidmouth: DCH and EDDC
Futures Forum: Affordable Housing in Sidmouth: DCH and EDDC: project in Mill Street completed

Planning Officers had to back down on a further project, however, because of strenuous opposition from the Chamber of Commerce over loss of carparking:

Futures Forum: Sidmouth parking issues: decreasing capacity at Ham Lane
Futures Forum: A solution to our housing problems: build on car parks

There is overwhelming support, though, for more affordable housing in the Sid Valley:
Futures Forum: Neighbourhood Plan: results coming in from questionnaire

The problem is where to put it, if at all, at Port Royal/Eastern Town...

And yet, history shows that the area always had 'affordable housing':
Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: Eastern Town then and now
Futures Forum: Gerald Counter's Sidmouth: an insight into Eastern Town

With plenty of ideas out there for the re-emergence of 'mixed development':

There's currently a very interesting thread looking at these on Streetlife:

A bit of history...

The Eastern Town is where the poor people lived over a century ago. See the old maps of the cluster of "slum" dwellings and small artisan workshops, the Marsh chapel etc. the substantial community who lived and worked on the land that the Ham carparks now cover by this beautiful coast. This was the ideal location to train young people, recruited by poverty, to become canon fodder  for the Empire's war machine, in good time for the bloodbath of 1914-1918. The Drill Hall was built on land given to the people for recreational purposes by George Galloway Radcliffe, with a covenant stating that when no longer needed for military training it would revert to the people of Sidmouth.

When a local property developer made an offer to EDDC early in the 21st century, the council had to secure the whole Port Royal site so it could flog it off with planning permission. But EDDC did not own that bit of the seafront on which the Drill Hall stood. So they got the building "condemned" and arranged with the Ministry of Defence to "lose" the 19th century covenant so that the trustees of the cadet force would be required by law to sell it at the best price rather than return it to the people; EDDC ignored repeated requests to contact the retired solicitor and town clerk who could swear an affidavit about the covenant. Instead they used our money to buy back the building that was ours in the first place. Then the banking crisis of 2007 wrecked their cunning plan for a quick profit. So the Drill Hall festered and the young people of the town now have the choice of using the back of the Hall for drug and drink parties or to go for healthy training in the new Drill Hall at Stowford (where more poorer families now live).
Interesting apart from the last 6 words which are unnecessary and don't add anything to your post, apart from possibly annoying people who live on Stowford. I don't by the way...
Maggie Thanks Maggie. I apologise to anybody I have offended, which was not my intention. My context is that children who grew up in the Eastern Town in the 80s and 90s cannot afford to return with their own children because of the inflated prices of houses, over half of which are standing empty most of the year. So "successful" working families are living further away from the sea up the valley (and many key workers now have to commute in from more distant towns). The house prices speak for themselves.
Polarising Plebeian 
Hamfisted, not being able to return is rather a national problem everywhere in the UK, not just local to the Sid Valley? A true can of worms topic.....

Are there reliable statistics available proving that really half of them stand empty?
Barnacle Bill 
Problems also caused by many elderly/retired couples living in 4-5 bedroom houses - bring back the bedroom tax!
Polarising Plebeian You are quite right to fact check. Casual estimates are not innocent rhetoric nowadays. I honestly have not seen a statistical analysis of the area. I just know a street where there is only one resident and many where half the houses are empty; and I have counted the number of holiday lets in another terrace, and I hold keys on behalf of a few friends who are seldom here. I am not moralising against them but generalising from the density of traffic at holiday times, the house prices, etc. Maybe there is a fine-grained analysis of under-occupation somewhere?
Barnacle Bill The bedroom tax hit on families on benefits, particularly those with a member with a disability needing special accommodation; not on couples or widows trapped in a family home after the kids have left the nest. We need more flexible housing stock of course - but remember the chief executive of Pegasus Homes was found guilty of mis-selling before his previous company was wound up after conning old people into handing over all the equity in their home in return for a lifelong lease on a retirement flat.
Real Sidmouthian  
Couples 'trapped' in a 4/5 bedroom house? Lovely trap. Sell up and move once the kids have flown the nest. That's what we did but I was already here being born here. Trouble is that's what most of the 'came here to die and don't want anything to change now I'm here' brigade did to end up in Sidmouth in the first place.
Real Sidmouthian  Yes, although architectural social policy has made downsizing difficult for some in recent decades, there are undeniably hoarding dragons and selfish giants and misers in mansions who need to be released from their unsustainable solitary sad lives. Which brings us back to the Drill Hall, whose history is recorded with accurate references on the website http://drillhall.historic-sidmouth.uk
This history does not draw controversial conclusions about the appropriation and degradation of public space but that is my interpretation of what has been going on. How happy the selfish giant (EDDC in this case) can become when the younger generation are allowed access to their play space, dancing space, singing space, community space...
Real Sidmouthian  
It's already owned by the public. It took over thirty years to get it into public ownership (which those of us who have been here all the time would know) and now it finally is, it's time to flatten it and provide something befitting of our beautiful seafront! Knock it down....couldn't resist either.
Real Sidmouthian  Sorry mate. It is now owned by EDDC, the local authority, which is not at all the same thing as "the public". EDDC make this distinction very clear, very often. See the notice at the entrance to the Knowle about the Public Right of Way Act 1932.

This particular public hall did belong to the people of Sidmouth (which is as near as you can get to "the people" in the local context) for about a century but the Trust and the covenant of the gift were deliberately broken, and a dubious notice of "condemnation" was placed on the building, to remove from us the right even to look inside the doors. Maybe we should give up squabbling about whether to knock it down or renovate it. It isn't ours. It is theirs. "Resistance is useless."

Of course we do elect representatives to the local authority and if Councillors had the bottle they could challenge the public servants now known as "officers" who make the decisions. But that is another story.

The sharing economy >>> Upstarts disrupting communities

Where is the 'sharing economy' going?
Futures Forum: Ride-sharing with BlaBlaCar
Futures Forum: Imagining, designing and implementing a new economy, a new future
Futures Forum: The gig economy is 'exciting' and has 'huge potential'... or maybe not...
Futures Forum: Uber and local government collaborating to give elderly rural residents a ride

According to Tom Slee, it isn't going anywhere:
What’s Yours is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy – Tom Slee
What’s Yours Is Mine: Against the Sharing Economy by Tom Slee review – the problem with Airbnb and Uber | Books | The Guardian

As featured on this blog:
Futures Forum: The sharing economy >>> "What's yours is mine"

On the other hand, the 'sharing economy' is supposed to be all about 'disrupting' tired old models:
Futures Forum: The promises of technological innovation >>> "The Fourth Industrial Revolution" and the future of work

But there are questions:
Futures Forum: Airbnb and irresponsible tourism
Futures Forum: Is Uber really part of the 'sharing economy'? >>> "The whole point of a genuine p2p and sharing economy is empowerment for those directly participating in it."
Futures Forum: The sharing economy >>> “This on-demand, or so-called gig, economy is creating exciting economies and unleashing innovation. But it is also raising hard questions about workplace protections and what a good job will look like in the future."

The Inside Airbnb site asks a few more questions:

How is Airbnb really being used in and affecting the neighbourhoods of your city?

Airbnb claims to be part of the "sharing economy" and disrupting the hotel industry. However, data shows that the majority of Airbnb listings in most cities are entire homes, many of which are rented all year round - disrupting housing and communities.

Inside Airbnb. Adding Data to the Debate.

Again: the majority of Airbnb listings in most cities are entire homes

For example:

TEN bedrooms - sleeps 20 -Townhouse - Townhouses for Rent in Manchester

But that's not really the point: the problem is that complete homes are being rented out long-term, as reported back in 2015:

InsideAirbnb reports that as of Nov. 1, 57.4 percent of the San Francisco listings on the site were entire houses or apartments. More than 75 percent of them had “high availability,” meaning more than 90 nights a year. That strongly suggests that a majority of the units listed this week on Airbnb violate the city’s existing law – which, the evidence shows, clearly can’t be enforced...

Most Airbnb listings are entire houses - 48 hills

A piece from last year corroborates this:

Is Airbnb worsening the housing crisis in major cities around the world?

Kimberley Mok April 6, 2016

An increasing number of people are using vacation rental and accommodation sharing sites to find unique and relatively affordable places to stay. Sites like Airbnb and Flipkey style themselves as pioneers of the new sharing economy, allowing homeowners to earn a bit of extra income by renting out their spare room or cottage. But recent reports are suggesting a very different story: in cities like Vancouver, London and New York, sites like Airbnb are actually contributing to a growing housing crisis by diverting rental stock that could have been rented to local, long-term tenants instead.

One recent study done by Simon Fraser University grad student Karen Sawatzky found that more than two-thirds of Vancouver Airbnb listings were actually entire homes. With an extremely low rental vacancy rate hovering around 0.5 percent and an expensive real estate market, it is notoriously difficult to find an affordable rental apartment in Vancouver.

Even more troubling was that Sawatzky's study found that many of these listings were being rented out for more than 90 days -- thus operating illegally according to city bylaws. The study also found that there are many hosts with multiple listings, leading The Globe and Mail's Kerry Gold to point out that it may be feeding a vicious cycle of housing unaffordability:

It’s a significant finding, because it means that if the majority of Vancouver Airbnb hosts have entire apartments or houses to spare, then they’re not renting them out to full-time tenants. A significant chunk of the rental stock is lost. It means Airbnb’s popularity could be contributing to the critically low vacancy rate, which is, in turn, driving up rents.

Some long-time tenants are finding themselves evicted as landlords transform apartments into (illegal) full-time Airbnb rentals, a much more lucrative option.

Is Airbnb worsening the housing crisis in major cities around the world? : TreeHugger

Last month, London made a move:

Airbnb concedes to housing activists in two cities, limiting number of days entire homes can be rented

BY MONICA NICKELSBURG on December 1, 2016

Airbnb and affordable housing advocates are fighting a battle in cities around the world. Today, Airbnb made a big concession that could herald a truce between the two sides.

The company announced it will limit the number of days hosts in London can rent out homes they don’t live in and help Amsterdam officials enforce an existing, similar law. To operate what Airbnb calls “entire home listings” for more than 90 days in London, hosts will need to acquire a special permit. In 2014, Amsterdam and Airbnb agreed to a rule that would limit entire home listings to 60 days, and today Airbnb is implementing new automated tools to help both cities enforce these rules.

Airbnb is facing pressure from cities around the world to crack down on hosts who operate listings like hotels. Policymakers and affordable housing advocates say these commercial short-term rental operators take much-needed housing inventory off the market.

In Seattle, the City Council is considering regulations that would effectively ban entire-home listings. Last month, Airbnb sued the city of New York over a law that enforces the city’s ban on entire-home short-term rentals. New Yorkers can still rent out spare bedrooms in primary residences. The motion follows similar lawsuits in Airbnb’s hometown, San Francisco and Santa Monica, Calif.

Airbnb’s agreements with Amsterdam and London are part of the company’s “Community Compact,” a public pledge to work with cities and housing advocates to find compromises. The company seems to be softening its stance on entire home listings, in the face of outright bans like New York’s...

Airbnb concedes to housing activists in two cities, limiting number of days entire homes can be rented - GeekWire

A new book just out looks at where we are now:
The Upstarts, How Uber, Airbnb and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone

Brad Stone: ‘We should watch Uber and Airbnb closely’

The author of new book The Upstarts on how the new breed of tech startups changed the rules of the game

• Read an extract from The Upstarts

Interview by Ian Tucker Sunday 29 January 2017

At the start of the book you note that the dictionary definition of an upstart is either “a newly successful person” or “someone who does not show proper respect to the established way of doing things”…
I wanted to frame the defining question of the book for the reader. Are these brilliant entrepreneurs who have built tremendous businesses through sheer creativity and ingenuity? Or are they renegades that grew in large part through contempt for the status quo? There’s an ambivalence that surrounds companies like Uber and Airbnb, and I think this question over their identity – and the dual meanings of the word “upstart” – gets to the heart of it. My own squishy answer, of course, is that they are a little bit of both.
You’ve written about Silicon Valley for more than 20 years… have we reached peak Valley yet?
In terms of the business impact, I don’t think so. There’s a new set of transformative technologies such as machine learning, AI and virtual reality that will spawn another set of big tech franchises. But in terms of cultural impact, perhaps we are at peak Valley. For decades, technology entrepreneurship has been revered, and people like Steve Jobs and Elon Musk were heroes. Now we have to contend with lost jobs due to automation, the effects of digital addiction and simple fatigue with all this constant change. So perhaps our feelings toward Silicon Valley are about to get a lot more complicated.
You met some of the individuals who had similar startup ideas to Uber and Airbnb but didn’t become billionaires. Have these people been able to move on and were they reluctant to be featured?
I call these companies the non-starters. They had the same ideas but were too early, or too nice, or too idealistic. They all shared a strain of wistful regret; it is difficult to see someone else execute the same idea and win unimaginable success and riches. The best story was the founder of a company called Seamless Wheels – a pre-Uber limo service – who abandoned the business after getting a death threat on his voice mail, probably from a limo fleet owner.
What’s the best call Travis Kalanick has ever made?
Surrendering in China in an expensive battle with local rival, Didi Chuxing. Last year Uber lost $2bn trying to win that market; Kalanick couldn’t bring himself to sacrifice his dream of building a truly global network. But the rules of competition in China will always favour the local champion and Didi, it turned out, had the same access to capital as Uber. By stepping away from the fight, Uber not only saved its balance sheet from more destruction but negotiated an impressive 17% stake in its rival.
And the best call Brian Chesky has made?
Branding the Airbnb user base as a “community”. For years before Airbnb, people posted their homes and spare rooms on the internet (via sites like Craigslist and Couchsurfing.com). Chesky and his colleagues drummed up an evangelical spirit to their endeavour and held meet-ups and, in later years, global conferences of hosts. It got Airbnb users to feel part of something larger and strengthened their ties to the company, even when it meant that they were violating provincial laws.
In most territories these firms operate outside of laws and regulations around minimum wages, health and safety, and tax collection… has exploiting these loopholes been key to their success?
Absolutely – just as Amazon’s navigation of its sales tax obligations was key to its success over its first decade. With tough interpretation of taxi and zoning regulations, neither Uber nor Airbnb would have gotten started. By the time many cities recognized their existence, both were fairly large and had the political support of their customers.
After publication of your book about Jeff Bezos and Amazon, Bezos’s wife gave the book a one-star review on Amazon… Were you surprised?
I can still remember the moment I saw it – my coffee cup froze midair in my hand, my mouth configured itself into an expression conveying shock and confusion. Jeff’s wife had never made such a public statement before related to the depiction of Amazon. And she was alleging serious mistakes in the book yet listed only one relatively trivial one. I think it might be the most prominent product review in the grand history of Amazon! Of course in the long run, perversely, it did nothing but boost the book’s prominence and turbo-charge sales.
Did you witness much sharing in the sharing economy?
Certainly some hosts on Airbnb are opening up their spare bedrooms to meet new people; and some drivers use Uber to carpool with strangers for the companionship. But the most productive members of each community are professional operators, making available their homes or cars as a way to earn or supplement a living. It’s not the sharing economy at all, though that phrase has been useful for the companies to bolster their image.
Which sectors have been able to embrace upstarts’ disruption with any success?
The auto industry. Upstarts like Tesla have achieved enormous success but haven’t slowed down the car companies – 2015 was their best year ever. The auto giants are all researching autonomous vehicles alongside the likes of Google and Uber and they could conceivably get there first. The real estate market has also remained fairly impervious to disruption, as well as (to everyone’s consternation) the airline industry. Perhaps an industry’s immunity is related to the size of each individual transaction.
You state that the founders of Airbnb and Uber are very different from Bill Gates, Larry Page and Mark Zuckerberg… How?
For all their strengths, Gates, Page and Zuckerberg are not charismatic communicators or storytellers. They generally avoided the press and focused their attentions inward. Chesky and Kalanick couldn’t get away with that. Early on, they faced regulatory fights that their predecessors never encountered until much later. This took skills like mustering political coalitions, enlisting the support of customers and testifying publicly. They had to be politicians, as well as innovators and managers.
Are the fortunes and efficiencies created by these companies worth the price paid by the disrupted?
I think so – as long as they follow on their promises. Uber has pledged to reduce or eliminate traffic in major cities within five years and to treat drivers more equitably. Airbnb thinks it can create a new industry where people are paid to provide authentic travel experiences. It has also set out to eradicate racial bias from its platform. Let’s watch these companies closely and make sure they achieve their goals, instead of replacing one set of distant, dominant companies with another.
Brad Stone: ‘We should watch Uber and Airbnb closely’ | Books | The Guardian