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City & Town Planning Megathread

Started by Syt, May 01, 2023, 02:15:03 AM

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The Elizabeth line is great. We'll except for how it hadn't even reached one year when it started having many faults like all the other lines.
"I've never been quite sure what the point of a eunuch is, if truth be told. It seems to me they're only men with the useful bits cut off."

I drank because I wanted to drown my sorrows, but now the damned things have learned to swim.

Admiral Yi

Quote from: Josquius on May 24, 2023, 10:08:21 AMThe slant I'm reading here is "Bloody trains pushing up the prices for locals!"
But the actual lesson behind all this I'd take is that it clearly demonstrates transit oriented development and in general improving transit links is a good idea (tm).

In other contexts this is what is called gentrification.


QuoteIn other contexts this is what is called gentrification.
A maligned word for a phenomena that is mixed in its blessings and curses.
Though overall if transit improvement and transit oriented development was made a priority in more places it wouldn't be an issue.

Quote from: Gups on May 24, 2023, 10:55:58 AMThat definitely works for London where the property price increase can offset, at least partially, the cost of tunnelling and large capacity stations.  Unfortunately the main new schemes (Crossrail 2 and Bakerloo Line Extension) are dead in the water.

For the Bristols, Manchesters, Leeds, Birminghams etc the commuting requirements are just too different. You don't have the necessary density in suburban areas - a lot of commuters are coming in from surrounding towns and villages from every direction. For example, there's no way of designing a sensible commuter transit system to link Bromsgrove, Kidderminster, Leamington Spa, Lichfield etc to B'ham. The best you can do is tram systems for the suburbs and immediately neighbouring towns which don't have a significant effect on property prices or unlock a great deal of additional density.

Much of this is a self fulfilling negative feedback loop however.
Since the mid 20th century the pattern in the UK has been to prioritise car focussed sprawl which means transit is less effective so there's less investment in transit so they prioritise car focussed sprawl, so on and so forth.

The same rules of transit being desirable absolutely do apply outside of London. Look on a national level and you'll notice towns with decent train service tend to be more expensive than their neighbours without.
Theres been a fair few analyses on a more local level to show there is a transit induced priced uptick.

The important thing about all this stuff too is that its augmentative. Build a single line through Leeds and it'll have an effect. But build a second line that connects to the first in the centre and you've 'doubled' (not really but just for simplicity) the utility of the first line  by increasing the number of places it goes.

I don't think anyone would suggest a train to every single town in the land is feasible. But focussing new housing development on those places to which this is practical rather than in random isolated fields? Such common sense that runs afoul of NIMBYs.


Meanwhile, city playnning in Egypt.  :hmm:

I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.
—Stephen Jay Gould

Proud owner of 42 Zoupa Points.


Aye. Whilst the west is learning better so many developed (and new money) countries see the worst America has to offer as something to aim for.


Being lazy is bad; unless you still get what you want, then it's called "patience".
Hubris must be punished. Severely.


I've lately become increasingly interested in population density data.
The traditional way this is done is to take the area of the country and divide it by the population of the country and bang, look, the UK is super duper overcrowded.
The reality....isn't so simple. Where people live matters far more- its increasingly well known for instance that Barcelona is one of the densest places in Europe.

In particular I've been thinking about what the optimum density looks like. It seems to be an average of over 5000 people per square km but its not so simple as that. Reframing the data into pie charts I do think I see more of a pattern of what truly makes a difference coming out and the need for a decent sized core.

Here's how much of the population of various cities lives at a given density level.

Maybe its just me but I'm quite pleased by this display, blues as too low, greens as good, reds and yellows getting high then going into purple through to grey insane. Wish I had time to learn how to automate something.  Its interesting you clearly see the bad cities without labelling them.


I've not been to Paris in many years. But I remember it being absolutely horrible.
I have heard snippets of positive change in recent years however. And this piece sounds rather lovely (suspiciously so).

QuoteParis. City of the future.


   Paris, where I live, is a mess right now. Roads are being pulled up and renovated ahead of next summer's Olympics. Schools, airports and museums have been disrupted by bomb threats, as Europe's largest Muslim and Jewish city lives in fear of importing the Gazan conflict. And we've just entered the annual five-month sunless stretch.

But here's something few Parisians will admit: the city is approaching a new zenith of glorious liveability. This is part of the trans-western urban renaissance, which is overcoming the brief setback of the pandemic. (Commercial real estate is another matter.) Paris even has a plan to solve the modern problem of urban success: how not to become a fortress for rich people.

Anyone who hasn't been here lately might struggle to appreciate the transformation. For one, the economy is booming. Regional unemployment is 6.7 per cent, around a 15-year low. Paris is becoming even more of a luxury city, the home of Louis Vuitton (fittingly, the latest Olympic sponsor), with a few select drinking fountains that spout sparkling water. But the boom is broad-based. Even in mainland France's poorest department, Seine-Saint-Denis, just north of Paris, most jobs are now hard to fill. That helps explain why last June's overhyped suburban riots fizzled.

Region-wide, this is a rare moment in history where employers are struggling to recruit artistic performers, and butchers are becoming overpriced superstars. I was offered a retail job by automated text message; my 15-year-old son was, illegally, offered work as a security guard.


The Henry Mance Interview
Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo: 'A city's creativity doesn't depend on cars. That's the 20th century'
Paris is becoming a bilingual business city almost like Copenhagen. On a side street near my office, a new sign above a drab entryway proclaims, in English: "Paris School of Technology & Business". Similar outfits have popped up around town. Meanwhile, Parisian investment banks are swelling with post-Brexit refugees from London. Valérie Pécresse, the Paris region's president, boasts: "For the first time, the region is number one in Europe, ahead of London, in new foreign investment . . . The Paris region is number one in the world for R&D investments."

Paris is also becoming more liveable — if you don't drive. Expelling lots of cars has created space for cyclists and café terraces, but above all for pedestrians: 65 per cent of journeys are now on foot. Many streets around schools have been pedestrianised. The Seine's Right Bank has transformed from highway into the world's best urban walk. All this has made the Parisian air less foul.

The Olympics will, eventually, improve the city. Hosting the games is like hosting a wedding in the family home. The preparations are stressful; everything broken or outdated needs fixing. The event itself is stressful, too. Paris's games could be wrecked by terrorism, strikes or both. But once the guests leave, you have a renovated home — with a pool, given that the city is doing its best to clean up the Seine for swimming for the first time since 1923.

The biggest transformation will be in transport. Several of the 68 new metro stations being built in the suburbs — Europe's largest transport project — will open for the Olympics.

The Seine's Right Bank has transformed from highway into the world's best urban walk

There's one downside to creating a wonderful city: it becomes so desirable that almost everyone is priced out. Parisian apartment prices have nearly quadrupled since 2000. The city risks becoming a dreamscape for the wealthy, à la the Netflix series Emily in Paris.

To avoid this, Paris is taking a lead from Vienna, where over 60 per cent of inhabitants live in subsidised housing. Nearly one-quarter of Parisian homes inside the Périphérique ring road are now social housing, up from 13 per cent in 2001. The mayoralty aims to reach 30 per cent by 2035, plus another 10 per cent of "affordable" homes, meaning one-fifth below market prices. Some of social-democratic Europe's other successful cities are making similar pushes: a third of Zürich's housing is supposed to be not-for-profit by 2050.

Paris, unlike certain cities one could mention, is also building many homes, including thousands above and around each new metro station. Then there's the Olympic Village, several blocks of airy apartment buildings by the river in Seine-Saint-Denis. They'll be shrouded in trees and plants, in line with the new Parisian ideology of "végétalisation". Post-Olympics, the buildings will become social and market-priced housing, offices, shops and cafés. Visiting the village one recent morning, I was blown away. I left imbued with that most un-Parisian of feelings: optimism.

Follow Simon @KuperSimon and email him at [email protected]


68 new metro stations? That's non-trivial, for sure. And yeah, that sounds pretty decent.


Paris is by far the most overrated city in the world. Way, way, way too much hype.


I thought it had some rather pretty vistas/landmarks, and also the seedier aspects of a large city...rats, too many tourists...over-the-hill prostitutes out at 5:00am in the back streets while one is walking towards the train station...the usual.


It was nice enough as a touristy city. Smelled like piss though.
Being lazy is bad; unless you still get what you want, then it's called "patience".
Hubris must be punished. Severely.