A good week for bees, areas of outstanding cooking and dilapidated Victorian villas, but DIY skills are on the wane and the Garden Bridge is wilting - as, apparently, are those who spot hunky builders working onsite
Some like it hot
Britain’s builders have muscled their way in to rank among the sexiest professions in the country. Research from the Federation of Master Builders shows that while Brits still love a uniform, with the armed forces, nurses and pilots the jobs with the most sex appeal, builders have turned their image around to get into the top ten sexiest professions in the UK. The research also showed that traditional commerce-led jobs such as bankers and CEOs, usually associated with suits, high salaries and Christian Grey, were a turn off for Brits compared with the roguish charm of the hardworking, physically active builder.
House prices in areas with restaurants recently awarded a Michelin star outperformed the wider market the year following the accolade, with more than two-thirds outperforming their local market. Property consultant Knight Frank analysed house prices within a 5km radius of restaurants that achieved a Michelin star between 2010 and 2013, comparing the rate of house price growth the following year with the average price change for the wider local authority. Horsham, where restaurant Tristan was awarded a Michelin star in 2013, topped the list - local house prices rocketed by 15.2% the following year compared to 9.5% in the wider area.
To bee or not to bee
Architects are buzzing after the launch to market of a new brick. In response to declining bee numbers, the innovative “bee brick” by architect Green&Blue has specially designed cavities for bees to nest in. It has already earned the title of “most innovative new product” from the Soil Association. Gavin Christman, co-founder of Green&Blue, said: “The bee brick was created to be an integral part of buildings and offers the dual function of being a construction material that also promotes biodiversity.” The brick has been used on several private projects and there are wider hopes that it will be a key player in the quest to save the bees. And wouldn’t it be great if the bees could function as a kind of living security system, trained to attack burglars and door salesmen? The possibilities are endless.
Winning at bridge
Opponents of the Garden Bridge are celebrating a “double whammy” after convincing Lambeth council to designate the spot on the South Bank where the bridge would end as an “asset of community value”. It means when the Garden Bridge Trust applies to lease the land, the sale will be put on hold for six months while the local community raises enough money for a counter-bid. The six months will be up in January 2016, when construction is due to start so it doesn’t clash with the so-called Thames “Super-Sewer”. Campaigner Michael Ball claims it could set the bridge back “three or four months”.
Plugging the gap
That the skills crisis in construction is top of the agenda at the moment is not likely to have escaped your attention. But, according to a survey by Bright Cherry Media – which I’m sure is statistically sound in every way - it is not just professional construction skills that are under threat. DIY skills, once the proud preserve of the British male, are apparently fast disappearing, with a third of people admitting to not knowing how to change a plug, and a similar number avoiding DIY on the basis of not having the right tools. However, it does find that one in three DIY-ers are women, which, while hardly gender equality, is at least a far better ratio than the actual construction industry manages.
Final curtain for ‘Downton’
Plans by Robert Adam to demolish a Victorian villa on London’s Hampstead Heath and replace it with a “fake Downton Abbey” (pictured left) have been thrown out for a second time by the Planning Inspectorate - damned by the inspector as “nowhere near sufficient to overcome the extensive harm it would cause”. Campaigners, led by the Highgate Society, against the ostentatious mega-mansion plan gathered a 5,000-signature petition and the support of local resident and Monty Python star Terry Gilliam. You’re probably right in thinking that this project is now dead, demised, bereft of life. It’s kicked the bucket. It’s an ex-project.
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