Category Archives: Communities

Scammed designs: when crafty home owners take on planning regulations

A whole home built inside a garage is the latest ingenious attempt to defy local authority building rules

Last week in Leicestershire, a couple was discovered to have built an entire house inside their garage without planning permission, hiding it behind a fake garage door. Dr Reeta Herzallah and Hamdi Almasri will now have to convert the structure back and pay a fine.

Blaby District Council has won this time, but in the ongoing regulatory war between crafty home owners and local authorities, the record is mixed. When Roy and Gail Coles, of Lichfield, Staffordshire, ran into financial troubles during the financial crisis, they rented out their house and built Squirrel Cottage on their country estate, making it look like a barn, despite having all mod cons. After eight years, they were ordered to tear it down and pay £14,000 in costs. However, the rent earned during that time might have made it a worthwhile investment.

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Source: gad

Profiteers make a killing on Airbnb – and erode communities | John Harris

The short-let platform is pushing up rents and compromising people’s privacy and security. Regulation is long overdue

The woman I spoke to last week lives with her husband in Edinburgh, “in the suburbs, but close enough to touristy things and wedding venues”. Their flat is one of nine in a “big subdivided house”, with a communal garden. “I moved here in the expectation that I’d live with eight other families I would know,” she told me. “But suddenly, I didn’t. I was sharing it with a hotel.”

Related: Mass tourism is at a tipping point – but we’re all part of the problem | Martin Kettle

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Source: gad

The £3bn rebirth of King's Cross: dictator chic and pie-in-the-sky penthouses

Google HQ, boutique shops in old coal sheds, gasholders offering wedge-shaped flats at sky-high prices … as the vast project comes together after 18 years, our critic gives his verdict

The words “industrial luxury” are emblazoned on a window as you approach the cluster of majestic iron gasholders standing on the edge of the canal in King’s Cross. Built in the 1860s near St Pancras station, and dismantled in the 1990s when the station was expanded, the cast iron frames have now been reborn as the skeletal enclosures for three cylinders of luxury apartments – with prices beginning at £810,000 for a studio flat and rising, like the former gas tanks, into the many millions for a penthouse.

Industry and luxury are the two magic ingredients that have driven the £3bn redevelopment of King’s Cross in north London, tapping into the collective nostalgia for big brick sheds and the lure of a bit of bronze trim. Across 27 hectares of former railway lands, developer Argent has been piecing together a masterplan since 2000, employing 35 different architects to transform a gritty world of rails and warehouses into a polished vision of postindustrial regeneration. It is one of the biggest such projects in Europe and, despite the crass marketing slogans, it’s shaping up to be one of the best planned.

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Source: gad

'We're all competing for the same jobs': life in Britain's youngest city

The 30% of Bradfordians under 20 face a perfect storm of problems, from youth unemployment to racial tension. But many of them insist it’s not all doom and gloom

When it comes to grim urban statistics in Britain, the city of Bradford tops many lists. Police statistics name Bradford as having the highest crime rates in West Yorkshire, while a 2014 YouGov poll named it Britain’s “most dangerous city”. Bradford also has one of the highest levels of youth unemployment in the UK: 26% of young people were out of work in 2015, up from 11.3% in 2004.

What makes these statistics particularly troubling, however, is the one that ties them all together. More than 30% of the population here are currently under the age of 20, and the city has the highest number of under-16s in the country, giving Bradford the unusual title of being the UK’s youngest city.

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Source: gad

‘It’s like we don’t exist’: London’s Gypsies stand up to be counted

New efforts to map Gypsies and Travellers are an attempt to break ‘the last prejudice we allow in this country’

“Our children haven’t got a chance of getting a pitch. They haven’t got a chance at being able to live their culture,” says Marian Mahoney, an Irish Traveller and grandmother. Mahoney had lived on the same site on Eleanor Street in Tower Hamlets for 37 years until she and her family were cleared out to make room for Crossrail three years ago.

They were moved, along with 19 other families, to a different site in the same area – a rarity in London today, where provision for Gypsies and Travellers has dwindled since legal protections for their sites were removed in 1994. Accessing appropriate housing in the capital is compounded by a fundamental problem: no one knows quite how many of them there are.

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Source: gad

From parasite architects to pseudo-public space: 2017’s best Cities stories

The numbers are in for our 15 best-read stories of the year. Now’s the time to check if you missed any – and let us know what you want us to cover in 2018

The 15 most popular Guardian Cities stories published in 2017 featured cities in Spain, the US, China, Japan, Norway and Great Britain – among other countries.

Catch up with the best-read items of urban journalism you might have missed this year, and help us get a head start on the year to come: what stories, from which cities, should we tell in 2018? Leave your ideas in the comments.

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Source: gad