Thursday, June 27

Berewood fantasy

So I believe the properties on the Berewood housing development are officially up for sale. Time to have a look at the rose tinted vision Bloor and the architects have about the Waterlooville area!

Here is an analysis of some points made in the marketing booklet for the new housing estate, published and distributed circa 22/06/2013. The development is part of the West of Waterlooville MDA.

Marketing Booklet
(text samples)
Waterlooville Reality
Page 7:

Berewood's Garden City will be somewhere our residents can enjoy a high quality and more sustainable way of life...

Garden City??

Since when has a housing estate ever been a garden city?

The term garden city dates back to 1898, which amusingly reveals a lot about the true inspiration for Berewood. Instead of drawing inspiration from the real local architecture, mostly dating from 1930 onwards, inspiration has instead come from a Victorian 'movement', minus the coal chugging steam engines.

Noble as the idea might be, building a 'garden city' on virgin agricultural land a few yards from a suburban sprawl isn't exactly what Ebenezer Howard had in mind. Indeed Berewood will never be self sufficient and will be a strange protusion on the side of Waterlooville. A quirk of council borders, because most of it will be outside of Waterlooville and Purbook council/political boundaries.
Page 10:

Robert Adam has drawn inspiration from the architectural styles found in the surrounding villages; and says; " Each of the new homes will have their own identity and character, and local materials will be used where possible".
Not sure what properties Robert Adam actually looked at in the non-existent surrounding villages, but I don't think any of them were any where near Waterlooville. Unless 'inspiration' means looking through local history books with content predating 1920.

Lets have a look at the real world...

Purbrook: behind the sign, some lovely bungalows.

Purbrook: post 1970s flats and some 1930s houses

Waterlooville: a few hundred yards from the Berewood development, some typical flats, post 1970s

Waterlooville: dual carriageways and plenty of suburban traffic:

Waterlooville: 1970s social housing:

Cowplain: the traditional architecture of Waterlooville and Cowplain, rows and rows of suburban bungalows.

Miles and miles of post WWII bungalows, flats and detached houses.

Page 13:

Nestled within beautiful countryside, just 8 miles from Portsmouth, Berewood boasts eco-friendly credentials, tranquil surroundings and a very special way of life, all within easy reach of London.
Normally when expressing distances between places, one uses the 'as the crow flies' or geodesic distance. eg. the direct distance.

However in this case, the Bloor marketing people appear to have used Google or a car navigation unit and worked out the distance using the A3(M) and A27 as the route. Which is roughly an 8 mile journey, as long as you don't drive down to Southsea!

The true distance from Portsmouth is about 4 miles 'as the crow flies'.

Tranquil surroundings??
Well  I guess the fields on which Berewood is being built were once a bit tranquil, but I would hardly call the B21590 and Maurepaus Way tranquil!

Waterlooville is a suburban post war sprawl, it has been for many decades.

Easy reach of London??
It's 50+ miles away! You can't get there without burning a lot of carbon.
Is that supposed to encourage environmentally friendly behaviour?
There is no nearby train station within walking distance. You have a 30 minute bus ride to the station in Cosham and 45+ minute bus ride to Havant station. You could take a coach to London, but do you really want to do that everyday?

One assumes of course that Bloor et al are not suggesting driving to London, creating more traffic, pollution and CO2 emissions. Some 25% of UK carbon emissions are due to road traffic.

One minute Berewood is a 'Garden City', next it's a suburban satelite of London. The marketing appears to be confused (or maybe post-modern).

Google map
Page 13:

Ideally located close to the heart of Waterloovilles vibrant town centre. Berewood promises a great choice of local restaurants, independent shops and top performing schools.

I think anyone reading 'vibrant' in association with Waterlooville will laugh out loud. Read the many blog posts on this blog to see how 'vibrant' it is.

If you like Macdonalds, Subway and Costas then you'll love the local restaurants. The only local restaurant of note that I can think of is the Shalimar.

A great choice of independent shops?
Here is a sample (minus the numerous big corporates):

Page 13:

With picturesque villages of Purbrook, Blendworth, Cowplain, Lovedean, Clanfield, Catherington, Crookhorn, Deanmead, Hambledon, Horndean and Widley...

My advice is take a look at Google maps and streetview and judge for yourself.

Can you see a picturesque village?

Maybe Hambledon is still a village. Maybe even Clanfield.
But Cowplain and Purbrook?

Maybe Bloors author lives in Australia and has no internet connection?
Page 18:

For a relaxed shopping trip, Waterlooville offers an excellent range of small independent stores.

This doesn't reflect reality. Anyone who has shopped in Waterlooville since the 1960s has seen nearly all independent shops close down, just like any other town centre.

Long gone are (can't remember many of the names) the Baytree Bookshop, the art shop, Transatlantic Plastics, a number of independent shoe shops and an independent hardware shop (got any fork handles?).

The fact is that most shops in Waterlooville are big corporates, including:
Asda, Iceland, Waitrose, Brantano, Wickes, Wilkinson, Boots, WH Smith, Subway, Costa, Macdonalds, Carphone Warehouse and many others.

That is why (along with internet retailing) we don't have many independent shops.

Friday, June 21

Road vs Solar Energy at Fareham Borough Council

A while ago IG Vogt submitted a plan for a large solar farm on land in the south of Fareham Borough, just before the plan was to be discussed and voted on at Fareham Borough Council, the company withdrew the application after council officers and Natural England raised concerns about the project.

The alleged problem Natural England had with the project turned out to be one of communication between IG Vogt and Natural England, a mix up with maps etc.

Recently IG Vogt exhibited a revised project plan that they intend to submit soon. The revised plan reduces the size of the project and addresses the concerns of the borough officers and Natural England.

Meanwhile, various councillors and politicians have joined forces by supporting the building of a 'bypass' road, most likely on the same land that the solar farm would be built on.

Here is a summary of the story of the solar farm as told in The News over the last few months:

Sept 2012

The leader of Fareham Borough Council (Sean Woodward) apparently stated that the solar farm plan was a "shocking proposal" and "it would represent a loss of a significant area of countryside", then listed one positive attribute and three negative attributes about the project. The News then proceeded to use the "shocking" quote and theme in subsequent articles about the FBC leader and the solar farm project.

Fareham council boss hits out at plans for huge solar farm – 15 Sept 2012
Public urged to make voice heard on Stubbington solar farm plan – 19 Sept 2012
It’s big, green and may be heading to a field near you – 25 Sept 2012

Oct 2012

The News continues to report about the 'fears' of Cllr Woodward and stated that the project attracted criticism from the councillor.

‘Solar farm is Fareham’s future’ – 11 Oct 2012
Survey shows ‘public support’ for solar farm – 16 Oct 2012

Nov 2012

The News reports that more letters are to be sent out to reach a wider audience. Fareham Borough Councils leader is reported as stating that the "council is not taking lightly be any means", also "Councillors have put it in their newsletters".

Council sends just 13 letters on huge solar farm plans – 19 Nov 2012

Feb 2013

 IG Vogt withdrew their planning application for the solar farm project.
The council report indicated two main reasons for council officers advising against approving the project.

Planning application for Stubbington solar farm pulled – 13 Feb 2013

April 2013

So 8 months passed with negative remarks in the press about the solar farm from Fareham Borough Council. Throughout those months, there was a lot of talk about the 'Stubbington bypass'.
Firstly improvements to Newgate Lane appear to be on Fareham Borough Council leaders agenda and The News reported that he said things like "It's extremely good news" and "others which will benefit to".
In the same month The News printed an editorial asking for solar power to be given a chance.

Funding to ease jams on busy Gosport road – 4 April 2013
Solar power is here to stay, so give it a chance – 26 April 2013

May 2013

The News reports that the new transport boss at Hampshire County Council (also cllr Woodward) 'kick-started' work on the Stubbington bypass. The first 'act' of the councillor in the new position was to 'order updates to plans' for a bypass. The paper stated 'He wants to prepare the case for the road'.
The project also gained political support from the local Conservative association, yet there was no public support from them regarding the solar farm.

Later in the month the council leader made further comments about bringing forward the road scheme, that the project was 'vitally important' to the area, bringing 'economic prosperity' and improving 'quality of life'.

New roads boss putsStubbington bypass at the top of agenda - 28 May 2013
Transport chief Cllr Sean Woodward puts Stubbington bypass bid back on track - 28 may 2013

June 2013

Now in June Cllr Woodward confronted with a new solar farm proposal, was reported by The News that he was 'considering' a report about the Stubbington bypass!
Cllr Woodward is later reported mentioning that the bypass is for 'all of South Hampshire'.

Revised plans for solar farm will go on public show – 6 June 2013
Council to consult on Stubbington Bypass
Stubbington bypass cash must come from bid to government –13 June 2013

This 'timeline' of events is admittedly how The News reported the story, but I supsect the bias in enthusiam for the bypass is genuine. As always with these things (including climate science) it is the sum of all the parts that gives the full picture, not the cherry picked moments in time.

Since the story first broke it appears that Sean Woodward, the leader of Fareham Borough Council and South Hampshire Transport Committee Member at Hampshire County Council has been vocally negative towards the solar farm and vocally positive towards the road scheme. Throughout the period in question very little positive support is visible for renewable energy, or any mention of the benefits to the local community of reducing pollution, improving biodiversity and preventing climate change. In contrast, no negative impacts of a proposed bypass are mentioned, such as substantial roadworks, particulate pollution, loss of farm land, large scale use of concrete and other carbon hungry materials, greater capacity for car use, increased CO2 emissions and increased bird mortality (cars kill more birds than wind turbines), to name but a few.

In the last few weeks a DEFRA funded report on the threats and opportunities of climate change, pointed out that one of the threats was volatility of food imports into the UK. Countries will ban food exports to us as their own home markets become a higher priority. The reality is that local decisions have an international impact and that in turn has a local impact. Everything is connected, building roads will just aggravate the problem.

Supporting growth without dealing with the problem of low carbon energy provision, is going to result in serious problems in the future. People need jobs, but they need dry homes and food far more. Something that can only be provided by tackling climate change and that means solar/wind energy for the forseeable future.

Wednesday, June 19

Tokar Street Eco House

I Visited Portsmouth City Councils 'eco home' this week in Tokar Street, Southsea. The house is a pre 1900 'two up two down' terrace house, typical in much of Portsmouth and built when insulation was non-existent.

Before a new tenant moved into the property the council decided to upgrade it to modern eco standards. For various periods this week the council have a few officers in the house and are welcoming visitors to have a look around.

So I took the opportunity to take a peek.
My brother shared a similar house when he was a student and there isn't a lot of room in those terraced homes. Without any modern extentions, you have two rooms on the ground floor and two up, with a tiny staircase between the two. Many have bathrooms and kitchens on the ground floor in extentions to the rear.
This house fitted that pattern, with core new eco additions: (information from a sheet handed out at the home):

Wall Insulation Thick 70mm internal wall insulation on all external walls.
Floor Insulation 180mm of insulation held in place by netting between joists and 125mm insulation on concrete floors.
Loft Insulation 300mm insulation between floor joists, 70mm fitted to roof joists
Windows A rated.
Photovoltaic panels Produces about 1776kwh per year.
Condensing Boiler About 91% efficient.
Heat recovery ventilation Heat exchanger prevents warm air escaping and cold air getting in, whilst providing ventilation.

Southampton University will be monitoring the house when a new family move in and the energy saving results will be compared with other similar homes in the street that have not been modified.

The project is impressive and of course is about doing what you can with an existing building that is over 100 years old.

But if you were starting from scratch you wouldn't design new buildings like this. Sooooo.... why on Earth are we building fake Victorian/Georgian homes at the Berewood estate?

Unwanted extremism in Waterlooville

It seems as the average age of Waterloovilles population increases, we are being exposed to unwanted political extremism. It's probably not age that is the source of the problem, but 'conservative' values do tend to creep in as one gets older. Oh, the good old days when we had a massive navy and our borders were the British Isles coast line... and we had umpteen wars with Europe!

Extremist political activists appear to be attempting to spread fear and rumours about Muslims, travellers and the EU. I got a junk mail leaflet through the door from a group associated with UKIP and the Tax Payers Alliance, spouting the usual garbage about the EU and zenophobic ideas.

Both UKIP and The Tax Payers Alliance have a record of denying climate change (or attack the essential policies that are required to mitigate it) as an alternative they tend to support the philosophy of climate magic, enlisting soothsayers for advise instead of qualified scientists.

Amusingly the Tax Payers Alliance claim to be non-partisan, but it appears to have strong links with the EU referendum campaign. Surely wanting withdrawal from the EU is partisan, so who are they kidding??

In any case who is paying for all this campaigning?
Why not spend it on insulating pensioners homes and helping cut their fuel bills?
Or maybe they should get jobs in the EU. They are free to travel to the continent and start a business there like anyone else.

Saturday, June 8

How behavioral science can help save energy

Really interesting TED talk video presented by Alex Laskey.
A proven way of reducing your energy bill is to know what your neighbour pays:

Waterlooville Music Festival kicks off

The 2013 Waterlooville Music Festival kicked off today with numerous bands dotted around town. Couldn't have asked for better weather! I have no idea who the bands were that I took photos of but the music was good.

This years programme includes:
Lady and The Tramps
The Band of TheHampshire Constabulary
Portsmouth Philharmonia
The Choir Company
Three Peny Bit
Portsmouth Shanty Men
and Don Lloyd and The Meridian Wind Band

That's Entertainment!
Brass Band

Thursday, June 6

Nigel Lawsons anti-science links revealed

DeSmogs John Mashey yesterday posted details of email communications between various climate skeptic activists. The information was revealed via a US Freedom Of Information request. The data retrieved lists the many contacts Lawson has with anti-climate science organisations and people.

Unsurprisingly the number of scientists in the list (even scientists that have no expertise in climate!) are negligible. Yet Nigel Lawson and his political GWPF group often write on the subject as if they actually know something about it.

The list mainly consists of pseudo-scientists commonly known as economists and one or two scientists well known for their skeptic views (Singer and Lindzen).

Coincidently the list has been published the day before the Coalition government has announced their anti-wind farm plans. It is becoming clearer on a weekly and monthly basis that Coalition government politicians are playing games with climate change policy. David Cameron in particular has been painting a false picture about this governments views about climate change.

This week Osborne stated something like 'cut now, or worse will come'. The statement was correct but it was applied to the wrong quantity. We need to 'cut Carbon now, or worse will come'  and the 'worse' will be economic and climate breakdown.

You can not seperate local views from national ones when it comes to climate change. If politicians oppose wind farms, then they support flooding, lower crop yields, higher insurance costs etc.

Update 16/06/13: Charities Commission is investigating GWPF for abuse of it's charity status.

Monday, June 3

Ed Davey today attacks the press

Ed Davey today is attacking the press for their continuing misrepresentation of climate science for political purposes.

The draft of his talk has been sent to the media and the highlight is probably this paragraph:
"This is destructive and loudly clamouring scepticism born of vested interest, nimbyism, publicity seeking contraversialism or sheer blinkered, dogmatic, political bloody-mindedness..."
Yes indeed our national press are not interested in presenting news and facts, but instead are just mouth pieces of an extreme element of politics and business. Some of the more vocal supporters of the movement against our future and green prosperity are based in the US or on a wrecked privately owned Channel island.

The 'political bloody-mindedness' comment is very appropriate, since many of these press people and politicians are married to political ideology. They are not interested in a changing world and a future that is not theirs, but ours.

The damage being done is ignored in order to exploit short term goals that they believe is important in order to sustain their own power base. Political party activists go about blogging and commenting to keep the creeking political system going so that they can keep their position in society.

The political 'bloody-mindedness' is also rife across Hampshire, with councils deliberately blocking renewable energy projects and power hungry councillors getting themselves into multiple positions of responsibility, deliberately blocking solar farms and instead pushing through or promoting carbon intensive projects.

Ed Davey's speech:

Berewood toy town takes shape

The Grainger/Bloor toy town is starting to take shape close to Waterlooville.

This alien project has been designed by  Architects in Winchester who base their designs on the fossil fuel burning past, the properties have fake chimneys and tiny windows.

The marketing hype states that the homes are inspired by small Hampshire towns.

What the marketing propaganda doesn't say is that in order to find one of these idealistic small Hampshire towns, you will have to take a trip in a time machine to visit Jane Austen in the 18th century.

Once upon a time Waterlooville looked like one of these towns from the past, that is until post war Britain needed to build thousands of houses in the area. The result is that the character of Waterlooville happens to be in the1950s, 1960s and later, not in the 18th century.

We do need to preserve buildings like Swiss Cottage, but we don't need fake historic buildings.

Swiss Cottage (1876)
more window real estate than
the 2013 Berewood homes

So Waterlooville has a toy/fantasy town being built on valuable farmland on the edges of the existing town and is disrespectful to the majority of the architecture in the area. When were Georgian buildings ever built using modern timber frame techniques?

But the fantasy nature of the buildings is just a part of the problem.

We need to reduce energy use and that means designing homes that capture as much energy from the environment as possible without the need for energy inputs from fossil fuels and grid connected renewable energy.

Yes we do need the grid and the large scale renewable energy projects to feed it. But low carbon life isn't about consumption for consumptions sake. The 'client' side of the system (homes and businesses) must be as efficient as possible, providing some energy from domestic renewable energy systems. The way forward is the use of elements of Passive solar design, a realist approach to property design that uses the natural energy around us to do as much of the work for us as possible.

It's time that the architectural and political ideology that is firmly rooted in the past, remains in the past, because the ageing pensioners that support it are not our future.

Some useful links: