September, 2015

Population growth: housing's elephant in the roomIt's busy down in dat der London.

Population growth: housing’s elephant in the room

New housing starts can’t keep pace with population growth in the UK, and the social and economic consequences are now being felt broadly across our cities.  Surprisingly, argues Dougal Paver, the public aren’t joining the dots. This blog doesn’t do politics.  Shoot me, in fact, if it ever does. Rather, it likes to cast its eye over the quirks and […]

Only land scarcity and a rising market will improve the Liverpool skylineThrough the fog of commentary rise some great - and some average - buildings

Only land scarcity and a rising market will improve the Liverpool skyline

As tower cranes once again punctuate the Liverpool skyline like a gloriously misshapen comb some are worrying that the standard of new buildings isn’t what the city deserves.  But they forget that the biggest determinant of design quality is the market price for whatever is being constructed. “Buy land,” said the wise old Irish farmer, “they’re not making any more of […]

Grub up! Time for a city allotmentJust give him a pigeon to stroke and his life would be complete

Grub up! Time for a city allotment

Allotments civilise cities, not just because of the obvious but because they slow folk down, suggests a mad-busy Dougal Paver.  He should know: he spent his youth on his grandpa’s lovingly tendered Tyneside plot. I skinned my first rabbit aged nine and can still do it, when required, inside around 30 seconds.  I’ll spare you the gory details, but it’s […]

Why Liverpool's Big Dig couldn't dig deep enoughThe quickest way to by-pass the Strand at 8am

Why Liverpool’s Big Dig couldn’t dig deep enough

Liverpool’s Big Dig caused angst a-plenty before its conclusion in 2008, but few would now deny that it wasn’t a great success. But for many there’s a nagging worry that it didn’t go far – or deep – enough. You’ll remember its purpose – improve traffic circulation around the city centre and remove car journeys through town, re-balancing it so […]

Gather up your bailing twine - it's time for the National Ploughing ChampionshipsLeft a bit...

Gather up your bailing twine – it’s time for the National Ploughing Championships

It’s the largest exporter per head of population in the world and one of the ten most innovative nations on earth, but what was the most read story on its business pages this morning?  Why, the National Ploughing Championships.  Ireland, dear reader, is still a rural country at heart. One of the advantages for a townie like me of heading for […]

One of UK brewing's finestMake mine a large half

Boom in UK brewing proof that high taxes kill enterprise

Liverpool’s shipping industry migrated off-shore to escape high taxes, taking a huge wealth creator with it. Its brewing industry is being re-born thanks to a reduction in government duties.  See the connection? The UK brewing industry is entering a golden age, with 10% growth in the number of breweries in each of the last three years.  We now have more […]

If your city is home to a global sports brand, milk itNorwegians on holiday. Lots of 'em

If your city is home to a global sports brand, milk it

There’s a world of glory-seeking sports nuts out there who’ll travel the globe to attend the best events.  And as some cities are discovering,  you can re-position an entire economy on the back of sporting success.  Merrion MD Dougal Paver explores the issue. When I lived in Barcelona I didn’t attend a single match at Camp Nou, nor at city […]

If your city isn't being destroyed, then it's dead alreadyRipping things up and starting again

If your city isn’t being destroyed, then it’s dead already

The creative destruction of technology and capitalism – allied with mankind’s inventiveness – is re-casting cities across the globe. If these forces are passing your city by then you should ask your leaders why, suggests Dougal Paver. French restaurateurs are up in arms about a new app that allows tourists to have meals in locals’ homes.  Barricades are being manned, government […]

How hip is your neighbourhood? If it's like mine, not veryA good deal hipper than where I live.

How hip is your neighbourhood? If it’s like mine, not very

Wide Georgian streets.  Leafy garden squares.  Hip cafes, bars and restaurants for the bearded classes and more quirky monuments and historical curios than you could shake a stick at.  And still his corner of Liverpool doesn’t make it on the hip list.  Darn it!, says Dougal Paver. This morning’s Telegraph has a summary of the world’s hippest neighbourhoods, and you know […]

Christchurch: what you get when creative folk are given their headChristchurch's earthquake was no respecter of buildings, as this church learned

Christchurch: what you get when creative folk are given their head

Just six seconds, that’s all.  It was Mother Nature having a burp, no more.  But 185 people died and most of Christchurch city centre went with them after its earthquake in 2011.  Four years later and some remarkable changes in its society and urban fabric are taking place, as Dougal Paver discovers. Dancing.  And shipping containers.  Not the most obvious responses […]