Lyon – regeneration zones

During my trip to Lyon last week I was shown two distinct parts of the City which are undergoing a transformation.


One area is known as Part-Dieu and is based around the train station. It is an area that was developed in the 1970′s and has some fairly brutalist architecture. This is a period when concrete played a big part in the architects palate! There is a concrete jungle here. I guess that the landscape architects stayed at home when the pencils were out.

The problem Lyon has is that this is quite a successful zone. It is busy, being located by the train station and wholesale razing and rebuilding is not an option. So they are working on how best they can gradually improve the area. They have realised that it is like ‘open heart surgery’ – they need to keep the patient alive whilst replacing the broken bits. Refurbishment is the order of the day – although a new tower is planned.

We also went to the Confluence District – which is the area wedged between the two rivers. The approach here is wholly different – this is erase and rebuild. In fact it reminded me of China. The old Industrial has more or less gone – partly by a process of Compulsory Purchase. The land is then cleared and invitations made for schemes which fit zones.

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I wasn’t sure that this was a success. It seemed to me to be a zoo of buildings – but worse a series of gated communities has built up. The disenfranchised youth who were displaced come back to express themselves in graffiti. The area still has a drug and prostitution issue. A new shopping centre has been built – which looks incredibly dated already.

I can’t help but think that this was very disjointed. It reminded me of Sim City. It is a pity as I think there was an opportunity here to do something great.

Tomorrow – how the rules work!

Lessons from Lyon

I have been a bit busy of late and you may have noticed the blog has been a bit quiet! I spent two days on a study trip to Lyon in France last week. I was there as part of a UK delegation looking at the way in which the City has re-branded itself in the last ten years.

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I learned a lot and so, over the next few days will share some of what we found. Some will be pictorial!

It lies between Paris and Marseille which are the two largest French cities – Lyon is the third largest with around half a million people. It is known as the City of Light – and I’ll blog about that separately.

Historically Lyon was an Industrial town, with Roman roots it grew as a result of being at the confluence of two rivers – the Rhone and the Saone. In 1998 it was granted UNESCO World Heritage status; this became a turning point.

A succession of Mayors have worked to turn the city from it’s Industrial roots into a modern, progressive and tourist based city. And in major part they have done so.

My impression as a tourist is that the city has had success. There is plenty to do and see. The city on Thursday was bathed in sunshine. There are lots of public squares where people sat and relaxed. In the evening the river became the focus of attention (although some delegates complained that the bars shut just after midnight!). It was less easy on Friday when the rain fell…

As is usual with a City that has been around for nearly 2000 years, there is some stunning architecture. There is real history here. I would certainly go back to delve a little deeper…

Tomorrow, the regeneration zone. Not all that it seemed.

Rude people

There are times when we all have to deal with rude people. Sometimes it can be difficult to know quite how to deal with them.


I was sent this brilliant story tonight which I think is superb…

A crowded Virgin flight was cancelled after Virgin’s 767s had been withdrawn from service. A single attendant was re-booking a long line of inconvenienced travellers. Suddenly an angry passenger pushed his way to the desk.

He slapped his ticket down on the counter and said, ‘I HAVE to be on this flight and it HAS to be FIRST CLASS‘..

The attendant replied, ‘I’m sorry, sir. I’ll be happy to try to help you, but I’ve got to help these people first, and I’m sure we’ll be able to work something out.‘ The passenger was unimpressed. He asked loudly, so that the passengers behind him could hear, ‘DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHO I AM?

Without hesitating, the attendant smiled and grabbed her public address microphone:

May I have your attention please, may I have your attention please,‘ she began – her voice heard clearly throughout the terminal – ‘we have a passenger here at Desk 14 WHO DOES NOT KNOW WHO HE IS. If anyone can help him find his identity, please come to Desk 14.

With the folks behind him in line laughing hysterically, the man glared at the Virgin attendant, gritted his teeth and said, ‘F*%@ You!

Without flinching, she smiled and said, ‘I’m sorry, sir, but you’ll have to get in line for that too.

This made my day.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Anger management, angry passenger, customer, rude people, shouting, Virgin, virgin flight

Amazon comes to you – well sort of!

I couldn’t help but notice in the Victoria Centre car park at the weekend that Amazon have a ‘shop’.


It’s not real shop – but a place where you can collect things you have previously ordered.

I think this is a brilliant idea. Amazon rely on the postman to get your goods to you. This isn’t easy for people who work (who then have to go to the sorting offices to collect things). But this system allows you to pick up your purchases from these great secure boxes. And they are in our town centres.

The edges between retailing and e-tailing are blurring all of the time. This is a further step to the domination of on-line purchasing…

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Nottingham Tagged Amazon, secure lockers. collect

The greenest building – in the world?

It’s a big claim – the greenest building in the world. Of course this is America – and more specifically Seattle.

The video below is of the Bullitt Center in Seattle. It aims to meet the rigorous Living Building Design Challenge, which looks beyond design criteria and scrutinizes a building’s green credentials, including energy self-sufficiency, over the course of a year in use.

There are some impressive claims. First that this building s design ife is 250 years. Then that the building is fitted with dry composting toilets and rainwater collection on the roof, which directs water to underground storage for purifying.It is made from high performance timber. It has no on-site parking, promoting pedestrianism, cycling, and public transport instead. A cycle store the size of three garages is located on site.

What I couldn’t find in the blurb was the usual measurable badges – LEED, EPC’s BREEAM etc. Rather they satisfy the ‘Living Building Challenge“. Whilst I have no issue with the principles or aspiration here – it is frustrating that a new measurable ‘code’ has appeared?

The Greenest Building in the World. Probably.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Green stuff Tagged BREEAM, Bullitt Center, , Greenest building in the world, LEED, Living Building Challenge, Seattle, sustainable

The business workplace is changing

I was sent a really interesting article in the week about our changing methods of working. The article coincided with a day of meetings I had – four of which were in coffee shops. Twice in Costa and twice in Starbucks!


Our lives are now so blurred between work and rest as to be unrecognisable from when I started out 30+ years ago. When I think back to those days a telephone box was how you contacted the office if you were out and about. Now we carry mini computers on our telephones wich allow us to do email, browse the web, read maps, news and all manner of other sci-fi things.

Coffee shops have grown wise to our need and desire to be ‘connected’. There are now more laptops and ipads in Costa in a morning than newspapers. I can do my email on the move. My interview with Richard Baker at The Nottingham Post yesterday was typed directly into an iPad (and he can do proper shorthand!).

I grab a few minutes between appointments to catch up on mail. I hardly get any letters now. I get junk mail – which goes straight into the bin. Even if I can’t get wifi my phone can become a personal hotspot – allowing me access to the internet wherever I have a phone signal.

This is just the beginning and it isn’t difficult to see that we are going to be demanding connections all over our cities. Those that can offer this will almost certainly get ahead…

I think I have what it takes

I was asked in a lift on Friday whether I was a hard or soft centre person. I was horrified and mortified – I was the only bloke in a lift of 12 women – two are clients. They enjoyed the moment far too much. I was told, “well it is London”. Yes, maybe, but what was a bag lady doing in a lift?


I got in last night to catch the tail end of The Voice – one of those appalling TV shows that seek to humiliate people.

But there is a theme…

1. You need to be on a journey.
2. Ideally you need ‘issues’. I have issues now (see the opening paragraph)
3. It helps if you work with old people or children. I work in the property industry – which ticks both boxes.
4. It helps if you didn’t come with a silver spoon. A struggle helps.
5. You need to cry. Or at least weep a bit.
6. Your family need to be gobby. And scream at the judges (even though they can’t hear).
7. Music needs to have ‘moved you’.
8. A bit of death helps. Someone close (sniff).
9. Since they can’t see you, being a looker is not important (my mates all say I have a face for Radio)
10. Being able to sing is optional.

I feel as though I have lots of these qualities.

The only issue is that Jesse J talks to you – even if she doesn’t pick you. For this reason alone, “I’m Out”. But I think I could win it.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Jesse J, , The Voice, Tom Jones,

Nottingham goes to London

Last night I was at the Invest in Nottingham Club event in London. Actually at the Skyloft at Millbank – where 200 odd guests assembled.


It was an impressive location and a celebration of Nottingham in the smoke.

We had an impressive line up speakers ranging from the Rt. Hon. Greg Clark – Minister for Cities, Sir John Peace – Chairman of Burberry, Experian and Standard Chartered Bank (also Lord Lieutenant of Nottingham in his spare time) and Graham Cartledge – Chairman of Benoy Architects. There were also a few folk gathered who were recognisable – Ken Clarke MP, Chris Leslie MP and Graham Allen MP.

There was a theme for the evening – which was that Nottingham was the place to do business. But more than that there was a focus on the Creative Quarter – where it is clear Nottingham’s future lies. It is not difficult to see that this can be a real focus for the future. Our messages about what we are for all lie in here. We can – and do – create things. The sector is quietly getting on, growing new businesses and building on old ones too.

We have some incredibly talented people in the city – in no small part thanks to our two world class Universities.It is now time to embrace them and encourage them. We need to keep them in the City and then tell the world about the clustering of that talent. That will impact on all of us…

All in all it was a good event to showcase Nottingham. The view, as you can see, wasn’t too bad either!


I didn’t blog at the time of the horsemeat scandal (which still seems to have legs – four obviously).


I have an innate dislike of supermarkets – I don’t know why. I think it is something to do with the way they behave toward the small independent retailers (wanting to crush them). I know they have a place and are convenient – but I sometimes think that there is something about independent retailers which gives you comfort.

If I look at my local shopping parade there is a butcher and greengrocer – just! If there is a new Sinsbury’s store there soon they are unlikely to survive.

I did wonder – what is the chnace of the local butcher selling horse meat? close to zero I suggest.

The supermarkets, by their very nature, need to bulk buy. I blogged last week about the food miles we now have to get food on our plate. That was specifically about ‘fresh fruit and vegetables. But it also applies to meat – we can get fresh meat from anywhere – and therein lies the problem. We simply can’t control every single outlet across the EU.

We can’t possibly know that the standards we anticipate are being kept. And that has been proven with the horsemeat in our burgers scandal. Or that pork meat has been found in supposedly Swedish Halal salami.

You can’t help but feel that sometimes bigger isn’t better – even if it is more convenient and cheaper?

The Regeneration Festival of 2013

Whilst at MIPIM this year I blogged about the launch of the Re:Fest Festival 2013.


I’m pleased that plans are going really well – the festival will be based around the Sandfield Centre – which my clients UKR have now secured after a long purchase process. I am going to be involved in the festival and my firm are supporters.

I know many people who read this blog are involved in property or have a great interest in how property fits into our world. Everyone is invited to take part. You can read all about the festival on its very own blog – here.

There is also a LinkedIn group .

It is important we get the word out to make sure this festival is a huge success.

It is also likely to be covered by Notts TV – although the resultant documentary won’t be shown until next year.

If you are interested – do get in touch – either through the blog or LinkedIn. Or you can let me know and I’ll pass your details on.

We need content – examples of where regeneration has worked.

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I’m off to Lyon in a weeks time – this is to see how they have regenrated their City – I’m hoping I can come back with some examples and images to contribute!