So Charles has put his size 10s in again.
No doubt you will have read his opinion that schools should not teach children to aspire to jobs beyond their abilities – and you may well have reflected that the qualifications required for being the Prince of Wales are fairly low (in Charles’ case, two A levels, grades B and C). Now he has given a thinly veiled ticking-off to new Labour over its sustainable communities plan (see news).
His speech at last Thursday’s Prince’s Foundation conference included his trademark dig at “ego-driven architects”, but it also introduced something more intriguing: the concept of “slow building”. It is an idea that has some resonance. The phrase is transplanted from “slow food”, a culinary movement originated by Italian socialists in the 1980s, which had the aim of preserving regional diversity of cuisine against commoditised fast food. Similarly, slow building preserves the regional identity of the built environment against the perceived threat of identikit people-cartons produced by “modern methods of construction”.
This may sound strange coming from the man who teamed up with John Prescott to design-code the sustainable communities plan, but we should avoid simplistic reactions. Our look at the American “new urbanism” movement (pages 40-44) and its possible impact on regeneration in the UK paints a subtler picture. As one practitioner argues, the movement is about establishing the “DNA” of a district, meaning that buildings would be thoughtfully designed to show a resemblance to each other, rather than being clones.
This appears to be where the new urbanists and Charles part company with Prescott. The deputy prime minister may have thought that one of the benefits of coding was to ease developments through planning. Charles, by contrast, is sounding a note of caution over McHomes, and in doing so is putting a voice to the private concerns of many in the housebuilding industry. Speak it softly, but Charles may be on to something …
Phil Clark, deputy editor
London can take it
Are things suddenly looking up for London's 2012 Olympic bid? It got off to a dreadful start – the International Olympic Committee ranked the city third behind Paris and Madrid in the summer – but now the Spanish have been tripped up by their racist football fans and Britain is getting into its stride. Last week's launch of the bid document, which presented an outline of the capital's plans, struck the right tone. A realistic approach is emerging, aligned to regeneration and concentrating on the legacy for east London. The weakness identified in the summer by the IOC – transport – appears to have been overstated. The actual spend on upgrading infrastructure is put at £380m by the bid team, a fraction of the £2.3bn some had feared. And now the team has the formidable presence of Ray O'Rourke, who will bet against us?