What’s happening with the Exmouth seafront redevelopment?

DevonLive has just published yet another article on the Exmouth seafront development. This repeats the story about the delay caused by the findings from the scrutiny committee. It also gives an update on Phase 2 and a history of the ill fated project to date.

It has prompted a correspondent to observe: “Sadly, seeing as it seems likely many hotels and restaurants may soon go to the wall, so fragile is the business model for tourism at the moment, Scrutiny may well have done the best thing for Ingham!

Once the tourism sector shows its winners and losers, the local seaside towns may have to radically reinvent themselves yet again.”

Daniel Clark  www.devonlive.com

It is now eight years since as part of the Exmouth Masterplan, East Devon District Council released its plans for an ambitious, and what proved to be controversial, redevelopment scheme for the seafront.

The plans have faced delay after delay, the latest last Thursday when the council’s scrutiny committee agreed that panel agreeing the selection criteria for the marketing exercise to identify a developer for the Queen’s Drive site was not properly balanced…..

……..But phase 2 of the seafront project, the new watersports centre, in complete contrast, is on budget and on time, and is set to open this summer, as planned.

Aiden Johnson-Hugill, Director, Grenadier said that they are still aiming for practical completion in June or July, as construction has been slightly affected by the weather. He said: “We are targeting being open for the summer holidays. It’s a bit like Christmas, you can’t miss it.

“The big thing is we are on site. In part, as a result of the highways works which means the magic of the site is that it has direct beach access. Developments are often precluded with a road or an esplanade but here you can walk straight across.

“Our contractors are doing a good job and we chose them as they have a proven track record of delivering marine developments and ultimately will be handed back to the community, so we didn’t want to build something shoddy. We are on budget and within the parameters of tolerance for the construction timescale.”

(Article then summarises the full development history)

Robert Jenrick plans for the future to get Britain building

House building based on need, priority given to brownfield sites, good design – too good to be true? Especially if EDDC’s Blackdown House , often described to Owl as “Colditz”, sets the gold standard for design?

Robert Jenrick plans for the future to get Britain building www.gov.uk 

  • Developers encouraged to build upwards and above stations
  • New map of brownfield sites to make the most of unused land
  • Proposals being considered to turn disused buildings into homes more quickly

Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick MP has today (12 March 2020) set out proposals to bring Britain’s planning system into the 21st century as part of plans to get the country building.

Councils will be encouraged to take a more innovative approach to home building – by ensuring redevelopment of high streets is housing-led, building upwards and above and around stations.

Next month the government will launch a register of brownfield sites which will map out unused land as part of plans to encourage councils to make the most of this land first – backed by £400 million to bring this mostly unused land back to use. 

Developers will be able to demolish vacant commercial, industrial and residential buildings and replace them with well-designed homes without getting delayed in a lengthy planning process, under new plans being consulted on by the government, meaning that more homes will be able to be delivered more quickly.

The government will also review how places assess how many homes are needed in their area and incentivise those that deliver on those numbers.

All local authorities will also be required to have up-to-date Local Plans in place by December 2023, or see government intervention, so enough homes are built for their communities.  

The changes come ahead of plans for an ambitious planning white paper – set to radically reform the planning system by speeding up the decision-making process so homes can be built quicker where they are needed the most.

Good design and place-making will be at the heart of the new system, championing tree-lined streets, a “fast track for beauty” and a commitment to lower carbon emissions in all new homes – for a green revolution in housebuilding.  

Housing Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said:

I want everyone, no matter where they live, to have access to affordable, safe, quality housing and live in communities with a real sense of place – as part of our mission to level up, unite and unleash the potential of this country.

We must think boldly and creatively about the planning system to make it fit for the future, and this is just the first step, so we can deliver the homes communities need and help more young people onto the ladder.

This follows a package of measures announced in yesterday’s Budget to help more people onto the housing ladder by building more affordable homes and speeding up the planning process to deliver the 300,000 homes a year the country needs.

There will be more help for those that want to build their own home and for parish councils and neighbourhood forums wanting to build a small number of homes that will allow their community to grow.

A further £1 billion will be made available to help unlock almost 70,000 new homes and create a new £10 billion Single Housing Infrastructure Fund to give confidence to communities, local authorities and developers that the infrastructure they want will be delivered before the building starts. 

This follows the announcement of £12 billion of investment to build more affordable homes – the biggest cash investment in affordable housing for a decade. With the ability to also bring in around £38 billion of further private and public investment. 

This new Affordable Homes Programme will deliver more affordable housing, helping more people to own their own home through the government’s home ownership programmes such as Right to Shared Ownership.

It will also help to build more social rent homes – supporting those most at risk of homelessness.

To secure a fairer deal for those who are renting the government will abolish “no fault” evictions through the Renters Reform Bill and bring forward the social housing white paper to ensure residents in social homes are treated with dignity and respect.

In order to help ensure the homes that people are living in are safe, £1 billion of grant funding to tackle unsafe cladding systems on high-rise residential buildings over 18 million in both the private and social sectors has also been announced. 

The grant funding is in addition to the £600 million already available, as the government introduces a new Building Safety Bill to bring about the biggest changes to building safety in a generation.

An extra £145 million, on top of the £236 million allocated at the end of February, will be used to offer ‘move on’ accommodation for up to 6,000 rough sleepers and those at immediate risk of rough sleeping.

In addition, a further £262 million will be used to expand drug and alcohol treatment services for vulnerable people sleeping rough – ensuring every area in the country receives additional funding for these vital services.

 

In the coronavirus crisis, our leaders are failing us – Gordon Brown

It need not be this way but one of the most disastrous weeks in the history of global medicine and global economics has ended with country after country retreating into their national silos. They are fighting their own individual battles against coronavirus and in their own way.

Gordon Brown  www.theguardian.com

Each country has, of course, its own distinctive health systems that it relies on, rightly values its own medical experts and the disease is at a different stage in each. But why is there, as yet, no internationally coordinated medical project – equivalent to the wartime Manhattan Project – mobilising all available global resources to discover a coronavirus vaccine and to fast-track a cure?

Why, as the disease engulfs more than 100 countries, has there been no consistent, coordinated global approach not just to tracking, testing and travel but to openly learning from each other about the relative merits of quarantine and social distancing? And why, when a world recession now threatens, is there not yet an attempt at a combined effort on the part of governments and central banks to deliver a global economic response?

Instead, ours is a divided, leaderless world and we are all suffering from the tendency to go it alone: an initial cover-up in Wuhan; China’s delayed reporting to the international community; the World Health Organization (WHO) meekly agreeing that the crisis was “moderate”; and even when on 30 January it apologised and declared an international emergency, still the world continued to receive confused travel advice.

It used to be said of the Bourbons that they would never learn by their mistakes. Centuries on, national leaders still seem unable to apply or even absorb the hard-earned lesson that crises teach us, from the Sars epidemic and Ebola epidemic to the financial meltdown: that global problems need global, not just local and national, responses.

In my first days as prime minister in 2007, the Labour government had to grapple, in quick succession, with an international terrorist incident, floods, a foot and mouth outbreak, avian flu and the first banking crash of the global financial crisis. “There are decades when nothing happens,” Lenin wrote, “And there are weeks when decades happen.” This succession of challenges taught me that governments will rapidly lose control of events unless they immediately pull out all the stops to get to the root of the problem, and then move with decisive and overwhelming force and resolve.

In October 2008, within days of the Lehman Brothers collapse, bankrupt banks, which had been running capitalism without capital, were nationalised and recapitalised. The lesson for today is as stark: you can cut interest rates and payroll taxes and focus your energies on dealing with the after-effects. But you will not succeed unless you can also build confidence that you have a clear-cut medical response to what is a global health emergency .

But the global financial crisis also taught me that while you need the analysis and advice of expert organisations such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and now the WHO, you also need political leaders in every continent with the courage not just to lead but to work together. And the best way to do so is in a global forum – in 2008, this was the G20 leaders’ group – within which decisions can be agreed. These decisions will then carry authority and legitimacy.

But what depth of dialogue has there been today between the main global players – Presidents Xi, Trump, Moon of South Korea, and Prime Minister Conte of Italy – to benefit from each other’s insights on travel restrictions, lockdowns and social distancing? Take testing: while the UK is way ahead of Trump’s America, Britain had, up to 10 March, tested at less than half the rate of Italy and a just over a 10th the rate of South Korea. Slow to test patients who had not been in China, Italy or South Korea, perhaps we had something to learn from China’s decision to test even the most marginal cases? And the delays in testing sum up why fears are still growing for our safety: despite the brilliance of Britain’s medics, the government still seems behind the coronavirus curve.

Of course, the very idea of global collaboration – and the convening of what would be a “virtual” G20 – sits uneasily with the “America first”, “China first”, “India first” and “Russia first” populist nationalism that has been subdividing our world. Since the high point of cooperation in 2009, nationalists have been in the ascendant – building walls, closing borders, clamping down on immigrants and imposing tariffs. And what was first a protectionist nationalism has morphed into an aggressive us-versus-them unilateralism.

Our willingness to cooperate is becoming inversely related to our need to do so, and this insularity means we are fighting today’s pandemic with under-resourced international institutions, not least a WHO to which ever more responsibilities have been added without the financial means to discharge them. In fact, despite a number of laudable post-Ebola initiatives – including the new vaccine fund (Cepi) – we are $9bn short of the funding needed for medical R&D and contingency planning. Sadly leaders either panic, as now – or, until disaster hits, follow the course of least resistance: inattention and neglect.

What’s more, this us-versus-them nationalism has spawned a blame culture, with under-pressure governments holding everyone but themselves responsible for anything that goes wrong. And yet an ideology of “everyone for himself” will not work when the health of each of us depends so unavoidably on the health of all of us.

In the financial crisis, governments did come together – with globally coordinated interest rate cuts, fiscal stimuli, currency swaps and anti-protectionist deals. A decade on, rising nationalism will likely block central bank cooperation and an early easing of trade restrictions. Today, also, interest rates are currently so low that there is far less scope for monetary activism. The world’s central banks – for the last 10 years just about the only game in town – are increasingly exposed as emperors with few clothes.

I believe a concerted global, governmental response is still possible. Each country should commit to removing blockages in supply chains; be ready to ease tariffs (and certainly not add to them, as rushing at the Brexit deadline might do); extend credit, as the UK has rightly announced to businesses, including a moratorium on tax payments; and guarantee upfront financial support for workers sent home or on short time. And where countries cannot afford to do so, the IMF and World Bank should be asked, as in 2009, to step up.

But the economic shock we face today – a ruptured international supply chain and, soon, millions able to work only from home – demands innovative thinking that is more in tune with our digital age. An industrial policy, backed up by fiscal firepower, could accelerate the workplace revolution that is already under way: from making business decisions via teleconferencing to the provision of online education, health and other services. Thus allowing millions to continue to work, study, organise their lives and make a living from home.

Yet no individual initiative will substitute for a collective declaration that, working together, the world’s governments will do whatever it takes. Coronavirus will not be the last, nor the worst, pandemic. But if the Manhattan Project could bring people together in the 1940s to create the most lethal weapon in human history, surely we can come together, in the 21st century, to save both lives and the livelihood of millions. We may not be able to repeat Roosevelt’s New Deal-era promise that there is nothing to fear but fear itself, but confidence in the future can be regained only by bold international actions that build confidence today.

 

Herd immunity: will the UK’s coronavirus strategy work?

“Guided by the science”  (Owl has been discussing this with trusted friends knowledgeable in health matters). Here is a digest of that discussion.

Owl understands that computer models are being used to test and guide the most appropriate strategy to counter Coronavirus. Since this is a novel virus there is much we don’t know. These models, therefore, have to be built on a raft of assumptions. The truly scientific approach would be to make these assumptions openly available and to use the models to test the sensitivity of strategy formulation against the likely range of assumption uncertainty. This should highlight the critical assumptions, allowing debate to be focussed on the issues that really matter. Hopefully, robust strategies can be found that are sound against a range of uncertainties. Where this is not possible, decisions becomes a matter for political decision and judgement. Where the scientist has to be careful is when he/she has an underlying “agenda”. 

Yesterday (Saturday 14 March) both the Times and Guardian carried a number of letters from eminent scientists, clinicians  and epidemiologists calling for publication of these assumptions. There are official admissions (repeated on every BBC news bulletin) that the number of cases might be as high as 10,000. To have that many undetected i.e. mild or asymptomatic cases can surely only come from a radically different set of assumptions? On what evidence is this based and why is it being said?

The UK appears to be following a very different strategy to other nations. This short article discusses the central Herd immunity strategy.

Sarah Boseley  www.theguardian.com

Herd immunity is a phrase normally used when large numbers of children have been vaccinated against a disease like measles, reducing the chances that others will get it. As a tactic in fighting a pandemic for which there is no vaccine, it is novel – and some say alarming.

It relies on people getting the disease – in this case Covid-19 – and becoming immune as a result. Generally it is thought that those who recover will be immune, at least for now, so they won’t get it twice.

But allowing the population to build up immunity in this way – rather than through widespread testing, tracking down the contacts of every case and isolating them, as many other countries in Asia and Europe have chosen to do – could increase the risk to the most vulnerable: older people with underlying health problems.

To reach herd immunity, about 60% of the population would need to get ill and become immune, according to Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser. Though it could need as much as 70% or more. Even scientists who understand the strategy are anxious. “I do worry that making plans that assume such a large proportion of the population will become infected (and hopefully recovered and immune) may not be the very best that we can do,” said Martin Hibberd, professor of emerging infectious disease at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“Another strategy might be to try to contain [it] longer and perhaps long enough for a therapy to emerge that might allow some kind of treatment. This seems to be the strategy of countries such as Singapore. While this containment approach is clearly difficult (and may be impossible for many countries), it does seem a worthy goal; and those countries that can should aim to do.”

The government’s “nudge unit” seems to favour this strategy. Dr David Halpern, a psychologist who heads the Behavioural Insights Team, said on BBC News: “There’s going to be a point, assuming the epidemic flows and grows, as we think it probably will do, where you’ll want to cocoon, you’ll want to protect those at-risk groups so that they basically don’t catch the disease and by the time they come out of their cocooning, herd immunity’s been achieved in the rest of the population.”

But Anthony Costello, a paediatrician and former World Health Organization director, said that the UK government was out of kilter with other countries in looking to herd immunity as the answer. It could conflict with WHO policy, he said in a series of Twitter posts, which is to contain the virus by tracking and tracing all cases. He quoted Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO director general, who said: “The idea that countries should shift from containment to mitigation is wrong and dangerous.”

Herd immunity might not even last, Costello said. “Does coronavirus cause strong herd immunity or is it like flu where new strains emerge each year needing repeat vaccines? We have much to learn about Co-V immune responses.” Vaccines, he said, were a much safer way of bringing it about.

It need not be this way

Gordon Brown, based on his experience of the banking crisis, writes: (full text on seperate post)

It need not be this way but one of the most disastrous weeks in the history of global medicine and global economics has ended with country after country retreating into their national silos. They are fighting their own individual battles against coronavirus and in their own way.

Each country has, of course, its own distinctive health systems that it relies on, rightly values its own medical experts and the disease is at a different stage in each. But why is there, as yet, no internationally coordinated medical project – equivalent to the wartime Manhattan Project – mobilising all available global resources to discover a coronavirus vaccine and to fast-track a cure?

Why, as the disease engulfs more than 100 countries, has there been no consistent, coordinated global approach not just to tracking, testing and travel but to openly learning from each other about the relative merits of quarantine and social distancing? And why, when a world recession now threatens, is there not yet an attempt at a combined effort on the part of governments and central banks to deliver a global economic response?

Instead, ours is a divided, leaderless world and we are all suffering from the tendency to go it alone: an initial cover-up in Wuhan; China’s delayed reporting to the international community; the World Health Organization (WHO) meekly agreeing that the crisis was “moderate”; and even when on 30 January it apologised and declared an international emergency, still the world continued to receive confused travel advice.