sStanding in the way of a new boardwalk along Port Poole is RNLI’s illustrious National Center where five new lifeboats are built each year, the charity’s existing fleet is revamped and countless volunteers trained.
“It’s a shame that the road stops dead and people can’t move on,” said Philip Broadhead, deputy leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole City Council (BCP). Access to the water is essential to the Twin Hangar charity complex, so pedestrians and cyclists are directed offshore for this section of the trail.
The Conservative-dominated council, a unitary authority that manages some of the most valuable properties on the south coast, is commissioning what is likely Britain’s most expensive coastal development, estimated to be worth £2.8 billion. Like many of the communities that preceded them, Broadhead and his colleagues must navigate a path between the private interests of developers and the public good.
But free marketers may be surprised by their quasi-socialist focus on maintaining control, not only over the commissioning and planning phases, but for the decades to come as landowners and custodians.
This ambitious urban development has been designed using the latest ideas to create both bustling and low-carbon communities, with hiking and biking trails as a cornerstone of the master plan.
Broadhead says he pushes an open door when he visits the housing department at Michael Gove. The planning reform announced in the Queen’s Speech, which effectively reduced the requirements for overcrowded housing in favor of developments actively supported by local communities, will also give further impetus to the council’s plans.
Poole strives to be distinctly different from the developed waterfront parks that cursed other Rivieras in Britain and abroad. The vision is Barcelona rather than Benidorm, prioritizing low-income families, schools, kindergartens and high-quality shop and office renovations, rather than stylish apartments for second homeowners.
But this does not mean that luxury is forbidden. The Sunseeker Yachting Dock, whose clients include Nicole Kidman, Michael Douglas, Simon Cowell and John Travolta, stands in the way of unrestricted access to the water. But in one of the many consultations, locals voted to keep it that way.
They are used to seeing the shipyard from the opposite pier and have enjoyed watching a factory in operation. (The pebbles falling from cargo ships at a nearby dock was another must-visit attraction.) The only thing the council had to negotiate with Sunseeker was the location of its marketing pavilions along the water, in one place, which contained hotels, bars, and could be Restaurants are more convenient.
The scale of the project is a Conservative heritage and aligns with the way the “big estates” manage their land, says Tony Travers, a local government expert at the London School of Economics. It also reflects the confidence of 19th century leaders such as Birmingham Mayor Joseph Chamberlain, who built tramways, water stations, schools and Britain’s largest municipal housing area.
“In modern times, Grosvenor and Crown Estates have been farming their lands in this way — not for a few years, but for centuries,” he says. “You often find micromanagement for development.”
Broadhead and his colleagues understand the catastrophes that can befall councils of overconfidence. Many local authorities have gone the Chamberlain route, only to break up. Croydon, Nottingham and Warrington are among those who have borrowed money to finance energy or property development, only to collapse and burn.
BCP leaders, representing 400,000 residents, have committed £50m to an urban renewal company – FuturePlaces – which will be funded by some of the savings the city council aims to generate over the next decade.
Broadhead, who is also president of the Board of Governors Association and vice president of the Mid-Level Council Group for Major Cities says.
He resisted filling the new entity’s board of directors with board members, preferring to appoint experts to run the “development mind”. One of them, Managing Director Jill Mayhew, was a member of the Better Build and Build Beautiful Committee, which was set up in 2013 to advise on new construction: it has a broad mandate to coordinate sites that span nearly the entire port and bay and extend from Poole. .
They “challenge many practices adopted by councils,” Broadhead says. Mayhew adds, “We don’t just rely on scheduling rules. We set the basic rules and terms of engagement.”
One of these rules relates to land ownership, which municipalities usually avoid even if they allow people to build on their land. Another reason is the purchase of land linking existing areas designated for development because, according to Mayhew, “too much development is being done on plots of land which prevents a uniform approach”.
Broadhead also disagrees with the type of transportation, choosing not to chase public funds for new services to connect local communities. He says more public transportation traversing through the city isn’t the answer; Instead, Paul needs something closer to the city of Paris which takes 15 minutes, or proximity city, As Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo calls him. The idea is to create places where the basics of life can be reached within 15 minutes on foot or by bike.
Mayhew says Paul’s main streets are thriving, allowing local communities to live, shop and eat in one place. “We want to be the UK’s luxury capital,” she says.
Many of the 15,000 apartments in the master plan target existing communities and newcomers. As an example of sensitive expansion, she cites the former massive power plant at Halls Bay, which can be accessed from the city center via a bridge. The site has been vacant for 25 years and is one of the largest single development sites in the UK in its own right.
Mayhew says studies show fewer people cross the bridge to shop in town or meet friends, so the development will include more local schools, stores and jobs to keep life’s essentials on hand.
The Think Tank for Cities has argued that employment should be the first consideration when investing in municipalities because when people have good jobs, they can afford all other elements of city life. But to attract employers, the council needs a cultural life and good schools.
Companies are often forgotten in a hurry to build homes, which is why the Port of Poole — with shipping services to France and mid-sized cruise ships docking, as well as employers such as Sunseeker and RNLI — are being embraced, Mayhew says. And not just from the community: For those who enjoy a night on the quayside, the view of the industrial heart of the city is just as important as the landscape beyond.