Jonathan Brown is right. As a respected urban designer in a firm widely acknowledged as being the first in the UK to adopt "urban design" principles he is vastly experienced and objective in this field. His opinions are formed by academic qualification, professional experience, client respect, observation, empathy, and an awareness that the economic, and community capital “sunk” into the Granby Road (and the Welsh Streets ) are as valid to the urban experiences as far more recognisable “civic” buildings. Thus his argument to resist HMRI is valid and ethical.
He is also right to comment upon, and develop, some of the ambiguities of our planning legislation. In pure planning terms the economics of a development form no consideration to the granting of planning consent. Yet in strategic planning terms HMRI presents the almost impossible, and incomprehensible, idea of predicting demand as a rationale for strategic planning. The two are ambiguous as HMRI suggested there was none, and HMRI supporters still perpetuate this myth, despite the overall increase in Liverpool and L8 house prices and demand from student and key workers for affordable housing. Then there are the 23000 people (2010 figure) on the Liverpool housing list. But as housing demand increased post HMRI, as did local GVA, so too did measures of social deprivation, de-population (outside the city core) , de-industrialisation, and even de-servicing, the latter being the golden sector where UK PLC put all its eggs. And it is likely that the finance, tourism, professional, and retail services sector will get worse, over time, due to financial and environmental complexity.
IN essence, HMRI presents the absurdity of theorists and politicians applying economic solutions to social and community problems, and when economist and politicians get it wrong, it is society that pays the price. In simple terms call it blight and that is what HMRI has done. It's blighted vast areas of Liverpool at a time when UK house building and mortgage financing require “renewal initiatives” of their own. I’d also add to that there simply aren’t enough bikes in Liverpool, or enough jobs in London, for us all to shut up shop, put the lights out and move south, as some of the more extreme economic think tanks, like the Policy Exchange, would have us do. But what we can do is refurbish our neighbourhoods along non-consumption focussed models in an incremental fashion to create green homes, better jobs and the circulation of local money.
Division and complexity ought to engender creatively and resourcefulness. A coming together if you like of bright minds, and not so bright minds to find solutions. Liverpool has the people, and in terms of Development Trusts, Community Trusts, Co-op's, employee owner schemes, and the legal and intellectual tools to explore how. But I’d add that it is futile to save local houses if you can’t mend the local economy. So programmes to alter or defend the urban character of Liverpool must consider localised economic initiatives as part of a broader solution. Certainly this is what I am trying to do with my life, right now.
In closing, I do wonder, when it was ever necessary to “live in an area” in order to have an opinion. It is an utterly infantile comment. And nor does it help to denigrate organisation, individuals, and others whose interests are mainly expressed in their own time and without financial reward. I don’t live in the proposed Liverpool Waters, London Olympic Village, or in an Aberdeenshire
sand dune affected by Donald Trumps proposed golf course but I celebrate living in a democracy where I can talk about them.