Creative people such as artists, inventors, engineers, and architects often become so absorbed in their work that it becomes a part of their persona. Any ridicule or even well-meant criticism of their work can be, for some, a personal affront, and their consequent defensive posturing often leads others to presume them arrogant—of course the same generalisation can be made about other professions, including doctors, lawyers, the rich, and persons in authority. In UK cities, up until the mid-seventies, the office of city surveyor carried with it considerable power in decision making, and even though the town clerk was the chief officer, unlike the city surveyor he did not have the advantage of a specialised professional background. I use the term ‘advantage’ because most mayors and city councillors became as dependent on the city surveyor's expertise as they did on their own lawyer, doctor, or dentist. Since water supply, sewage disposal, and well-paved roads have determined the success or failure of cities since Roman times, an expert city surveyor could do much to relieve councillors’ minds of these practical concerns, so enabling them to pursue more ethereal occupations.
Colonel James MacKinder, surveyor for the city of Londonderry, was not oblivious of his power. He well understood the importance of his operation and protected his bailiwick with all the zest and vigour of a medieval baron. Certainly he seemed to be both pompous and arrogant and, despite his tweedy look, had never discarded his military rank upon returning to civilian life. He always addressed Jimmy as ‘Major Munce’, seeming to imply that he knew who was in command if Jimmy did not. After one or two meetings with MacKinder where others were present, I felt grateful that Stan Cochrane was in charge of this part of the operation. To be fair it would have been difficult for us to perceive MacKinder in any other light than that described since he saw us as usurpers from whom he had to defend his territory and treated us accordingly. But all that Stan and Jack were seeking from him was existing information on water supply and sewage disposal within the city boundary. They also needed information concerning road proposals he had submitted to the Ministry of Development (Roads Branch) including a major city centre bypass elevated road known as the Lecky Road Flyover.
PRELIMINARY TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR CONSULTANTS ONA FIFTEEN-YEAR PLANFORTHE LONDONDERRYAREA
Professor Sir Robert Matthew placed Londonderry at the head of a list of key centres for industry outside of the Belfast Region. The recommendations of Professor Wilson and subsequent studies by the Ministries of Development and of Commerce suggest that by 1981 the population of the Urban area of Londonderry (60,000 in 1961) is likely to be 80,000 rising possibly to 100,000 at the end of the century.
The advent of large-scale industrial development could, however, have a considerable effect on the growth and distribution of population and plans for the area should be sufficiently flexible to meet such contingencies. The Consultant will be required to take into account Londonderry as a port, an industrial, commercial, cultural and tourist centre, and to suggest means of stimulating development for the benefit of its citizens and Northern Ireland.
The area of study is to be the County Borough and Rural District of Londonderry but the area should be looked at in its total context of adjoining areas and the Province as a whole. The work will involve examination of the existing structure, resources, population, employment, communications and services and the making of proposals for physical renewal of the area in terms of land use, transportation, environmental standards and general character. Particular attention is to be paid to the possibilities of expanding existing and creating new villages within the general area, to the promotion of local and regional recreational facilities and the conservation of agricultural land and areas of high amenity value.
The Consultants will be paid by the Ministry but will report in the first instance at agreed regular intervals to the Steering Committee composed of representatives of the County, the County Borough and the Rural District. They will also work in close consultation with the officers of these Authorities and of the Ministry of Development and of appropriate Statutory Undertakers. During the period of work the Consultants will be required to advise on important applications for Interim Development.
Little did we know in 1966 that as we planned for a new tomorrow, events would soon occur that would change the face of Northern Ireland and plunge the province into almost thirty years of civil unrest and violence and back into its dark past. To understand why this should occur the reader may need some background knowledge of Irish history. Many excellent books have been written on the subject, yet my introduction to the history of Ireland was from a small book by Randall Clarke, a history teacher at Methodist College Belfast which I attended from 1944 to 1949. It was an excellent little book for a fifteen-year-old. First of all, unlike my books on European and American history it was not too lengthy, and second, the chronology of events was recorded in a way that made remembering them easy. To have these facts brought to life by no less than the author himself left a deep imprint on me.
For readers not familiar with the history of Ireland the following brief sketch is barely adequate, but I hope it will shed some light on the political and religious circumstances prevalent throughout the making of the plan for Londonderry. It is dicult for visitors to Ireland to understand the schismbetween those Irish who regard Northern Ireland as an integral part of the UK and those who regard it as a natural part of the Republic of Ireland. That they have been primarily identified as Protestant and Catholic, orange and green, without taking into account the various shades, may only serve to confuse that understanding further. While seemingly obvious from a historical viewpoint, the problems of modern Ireland are much more deeply ingrained and complex. They are also greatly exacerbated by social and economic inequities affecting both Protestant and Catholic working-class populations–although it must be stated that in Northern Ireland Catholic working-class people as a whole have been worse off than most of their Protestant counterparts. Conversely, at the bottom of the economic ladder the difference in living standards was hardly enough to be obvious in the post-Second World War welfare state. This was especially so in the case of housing for the lower working classes and the poor.
Women and men have different types of responsibilities and opportunities within the family and society. Women do most of the essential, but unpaid housework and the ‘care’ work involved in raising children, looking after adults who are ill or have disabilities, and helping older relatives and neighbours to manage their lives. Men's main responsibility is as the ‘breadwinner’, earning a wage to support their families. Elements of this ‘breadwinner’ arrangement of family life have been changing in recent decades. Most women now combine their domestic responsibilities with paid employment, often in part-time jobs, and it is now more socially accepted for women to have jobs when raising their children than in earlier decades. Many women are also lone parents, where the tasks of raising income and providing care are rolled into one. Yet the widely held social expectation is still that men should be the main earners and women the main carers in families (Brannen et al., 1994: 32–34; Warin et al., 1999). At the same time unemployment, job insecurity and widening wage inequalities in Britain mean that it is more difficult for men to fulfil the ‘breadwinning’ role. Men with few qualifications, men from ethnic minorities and those living in economically depressed areas are the most likely to be unemployed or constrained to low-paid and precarious employment opportunities. Men in these situations are under considerable pressure as they feel unable to meet the widely held expectation that they should provide for their families (Warin et al., 1999).
A number of studies have shown how gender inequalities within family life, labour markets and civic activities shape women's and men's experiences of living in cities (e.g., Bondi and Christie, 1997; Booth et al., 1996; Hanson and Pratt, 1995; Little et al., 1988; Taylor et al., 1996). Women are generally more geographically restricted to their neighbourhood than men and spend more of their lives in this locality due to the demands on their time associated with looking after children, other adults and housework. They travel shorter distances to work than men and are more dependent on very local job opportunities due to the combination of domestic responsibilities and lower incomes which constrain their access to transport (Tivers, 1988). As a result, the quality of their lives is shaped by local services and public transport more directly than men's.
To write about older people in a book about the city is to raise the question of whether city living is any different for older people than it is for any other group of adults. Whom do we regard as older, why do we regard them as different and why, above all, do influential groups in society treat older people as problematic?
The first of these questions is indeed seldom asked. A review of studies in the geography of old age (Harper and Laws, 1995) cites a number of papers about older people in rural settings, but none specifically about people in urban situations. Many of the studies that have been done have concentrated on housing design, rather than looking at issues of urban or neighbourhood living. Urban living may then be regarded as normative for older people as it is for anyone else, though we might want to ask whether living in cities differs from living in other urban environments. The city is not just a large town: it also implies something beyond the urban about governance and a certain quality of life.
But the question of who is old comes close to the root of the matter. Being – or rather, being regarded as – old is not a simple matter of chronology, since this bears little relationship to people's abilities and patterns of behaviour. Nor is it a reflection of people's physical or mental capacities or decrepitude, which vary widely through the second half of the lifespan. Rather, being old is a cluster of attitudes, on the part of the individual and of the social contacts within which he or she is enmeshed, and which are formed both by individual stereotypes and by the broader factors that underlie social and economic relationships.
These two patterns of perceptions of ageing are well illustrated in the history of gerontological theory. Most gerontology in the early post-war period was based on the pathology of later life. It was observed that older people's social contacts diminished over time, and this role loss (Havighurst, 1963) was initially treated as a state to be remedied with increased social activity. Further studies, however, led to the development of an alternative theoretical model, that of disengagement (Cumming and Henry, 1961).
Analysing the City
Cities are seen as places of contrast, contradiction and crisis (Pile et al., 1999; Loney and Allen, 1979). Even the attempt at defining what is unique about cities is a difficult undertaking. Should one concentrate on the physical aspects of scale and the unique built environment or focus on more human aspects of social interaction mediated through population density and heterogeneity? Is the city a place defined by boundaries, or is it rather a state of mind, a way of life (Pile, 1999)?
The challenges of cities were apparent well before the dawn of the twentieth century, when for the first time the majority of the population of Britain was urban rather than rural. Weber (1958: 94) quotes the proverb, ‘City air makes man free’, while Engels (1844) had previously drawn attention to the less desirable features of industrial Manchester. Freedom from the social controls and stifling parochialism of the rural life was countered to some extent by the worst excesses of relatively unconstrained capitalist growth in the slums of the city.
Yet still people poured into the city from the country, looking for work, for opportunity, for freedom. For all its unplanned growth, the city seemed to display an organisation all of its own, as districts emerged with different activities, different social compositions. To the theorists of the Chicago school, this seemed to speak of a social ecology, and of a process of change and transition as new resources are swept into the urban mass and filter outwards in ever increasing circles.
Yet when this broad picture is questioned, the facts appear stubbornly resistant. Instead of a series of concentric zones, there is a more diverse and segregated pattern, and underneath the new order of the city can be seen smaller ‘villages’ which have outlasted the urban growth while being consumed and transformed by it. So the ‘ecological perspective’ (Pacione, 1997) has been largely replaced by political economy approaches in which processes outside the city are seen to impact on its development. For example, Pacione (1997: 7) views urban deprivation as part of the patterning imposed on spatial locations by global capitalism:
Uneven development is an inherent characteristic of capitalism which stems from the propensity of capital to flow to locations that offer the greatest potential return.
Peter Hall concludes his authoritative history of urban planning, Cities of Tomorrow, with a despairing discussion of the persistence of poverty and disadvantage in the city, of what he reluctantly describes as the ‘city of the permanent underclass’ (Hall, 2002). Although he does not use Liverpool to support his argument, there is no question that he could have done so. At the height of its global economic and political power, the city had a marked social geography. In the south were the mansions of the wealthy (Liverpool housed the largest number of millionaires of any city in the country at the time) while in the north end of the city were the overcrowded and unsanitary cellars and courts whose inhabitants experienced a poverty that, unlike that of today, was both relative and absolute. Contemporary press reports referred to these areas in a language of social pathology that was to be echoed, albeit less bluntly, in some of the early debates about the ‘urban problem’ in Britain in the 1960s:
Here resides a population which is a people in itself, ceaselessly ravaged by fever, plagued by the blankest, most appalling poverty, cut off from every grace and comfort of life, born, living, and dying amid squalid surroundings, of which those who have not seen them can form a very inadequate conception. (extracted from an article investigating ‘Squalid Liverpool’ in the Liverpool Daily Post, November 1883)
Flash forward 120 years and we see the city introducing a Neighbourhood Renewal Strategy (Liverpool Partnership Group, 2002a) aimed at tackling a geography of social exclusion that takes in not only the areas in the ‘north end’ of the city that had so concerned Victorian commentators but also inner-city and outlying social housing areas in the south (including Speke as discussed in a number of chapters below).
As Stuart Wilks-Heeg argued in the previous chapter, the city has experienced a profound economic and social restructuring as it has gone from playing a leading role in the ‘old international division of labour’, based around colonial and imperial trading connections, to the urban core of a city-region officially designated as a ‘lagging region’ in the European segment of the triadic structure of the global economy (USA–Europe–Japan and the Pacific Rim). Figure 1 shows how this transformation has been reflected in the city's population.
Only London, of all the cities in the UK, has been termed a global city (Sassen, 1991). At the beginning of the twenty-first century, much of the rest of Britain, especially in the north, is still struggling with the effects of de-industrialisation. Far from building the new, networked and post-industrial cities of the future, it seems that the majority experience in Britain is of continuing to try to manage the legacy left by the industrial age. It is not clear whether the city-use zones, streets and housing patterns that were necessary to that age fit the work and industry patterns of the present or indeed if they can be adapted to future needs. In many ways, the contemporary city could be said to be in crisis. Urban problems are a recurring theme in popular discourse; recorded crime statistics remain higher in urban than in rural areas, many city communities are seen to be under great stress and the decline of city spaces and traditional routes to employment for the urban population continues to be a focus of concern. This chapter looks at the position of the contemporary city in Britain today. It examines three interrelated themes which have been key to the discussion around British cities over the last two decades: regeneration, division and privatisation. It concludes by asking how far we have moved towards addressing the urban problems of the past and embracing the urban possibilities of the future.
Many cities of the industrialisedWest have witnessed an intensification of urban problems in the last quarter of the twentieth century. Global economic transformations and industrial restructuring have seen former centres of wealth production slip inexorably into economic decline. Subsequent to this decline, and the withdrawal of capital and rising unemployment that have ensued as a consequence, the physical and social infrastructure of these spaces has also started to fail. The old sites of wealth production – the cities – have shown the earliest and most dramatic signs of decay. Dilapidated cityscapes, declining housing markets and rising crime rates have all been features of urban decline, making urban living unattractive to many and fuelling large-scale population movement towards the suburbs and away from city living altogether. Britain has offered no exception to this trend. The flight from British cities is now well documented.
At the heart of the paradigm shift that has been taking place in urban studies since the early 1970s is the notion that a fundamental restructuring of previous urban hierarchies has taken place as a result of the dynamics of economic globalisation. It is well known that this restructuring has had major implications for the role of cities and that it has given rise to distinct sets of winners and losers. Indeed, a range of studies carried out in the Europe context concur that the world cities of Frankfurt, Paris, London, Brussels and Amsterdam are the key beneficiaries of this process, while the likes of Naples, Duisberg, Le Havre, Liège and Liverpool consistently rank among those cities that have suffered most extensively (Cheshire et al., 1986; Cheshire, 1990; 1999; Lever, 1999; Dematteis, 2000; Brenner, 2000). Yet, if one city epitomises the consequences of economic decline arising from the reordering of urban economic functions, it is Liverpool. As Ronaldo Munck notes in the introduction to this volume, Liverpool's place in the contemporary urban studies literature is as a site of entrenched social problems, a city almost entirely disconnected from the more glamorous study of world city formation. Yet, as Munck notes, Liverpool's claim to ‘world city status’ in the early twentieth century would have been second to none. Indeed, as this chapter will show, Liverpool was a key node in the global economy that grew up around the British Empire from 1870–1914, vying with London and New York for international significance. Few cities, if any, can match Liverpool's dubious claim to have descended from ‘world city’ to ‘pariah city’ during the course of the twentieth century.
With the notable exception of the work of Anthony King (1990a; 1990b), the vast literature on world cities has largely failed to provide us with an understanding of the historical reasons for world city formation. It tells us even less about the reason for world city decline. This dearth of historical accounts of world cities is surprising, particularly as there is a clear context for such work. Braudel (1983) has argued that cities have always constituted key nodes in the world economy, with the centre of gravity shifting from Genoa and Venice in the sixteenth century to Antwerp and Amsterdam in the seventeenth and to London in the eighteenth.
‘Derry is a city in the hands of inspired leaders.’ The talent and energy of the many civic leaders of Derry is indeed incomparable and explains how this city, which has suffered so much, can reach beyond mere survival to embrace the future. Spanning just one generation John Hume, the consummate politician, and Phil Coulter, the composer and entertainer, have gained recognition far beyond their national and cultural boundaries. Their attachment to their native city is expressed by one in practical terms, while the other is inspired to express it in music. But there have been many others, perhaps not so well known, who have been instrumental in the development of their city. As A.E.J. Morris points out, ‘Theoretical planning expertise is of little significance in the absence of community resolution’. Eamonn Deane, James Doherty, Paddy Doherty, and John Hume are but a few of Derry's many leaders.
Although no longer as prominent an activist as he was in the fifties and sixties, James Doherty continues to serve the needs of the people of the area. He remembers his service as chairman of the Education and Library Board as one of the most rewarding and fruitful periods of his many years of public service, but what I remember most are his contributions to promoting the housing needs of Derry in the making of the Munce Plan and his consistent and unswerving belief in the benefits of planning for the future. John Hume's career and his continuing contributions to the development of the city and its population, from the sixties on, are unparalleled, and the scope of his career is different in that locally, nationally, and internationally it could be considered an example for aspiring politicians everywhere. In a recent book, he describes growing up in the Bogside and how he was drawn into the civil rights movement and a career in politics. Since 1972, he expanded his work to promote industrial development and secure investment in Derry by establishing ties with politicians in Europe and the United States. Much of the progress seen in Derry today is a direct result of these contacts.
Putting the final plan together would be achieved in a matter of weeks because of the enormous amount of graphics produced by Mike Murray and his team and the availability of both this material and text from the reports. The team had worked day and night for over a year, sacrificing many weekends in the process as had all the team. Because of the nature of their work Mike's group were inevitably at the end of the production line. This usually meant spending anything from two to four days with little or no sleep printing reports to ensure that the Steering Commit-tee's efforts remained focused. Mike told me later that he was never nearer a divorce from his wife Lynn than during this period even though she worked in the office and understood that architects and planners often worked en charrette through the night. Alan Bradshaw and Jim Foster were also near the limits of their endurance, but no one complained and the excitement of finally producing a plan and the opportunity to make it public at last kept the momentum going over these final weeks.
I worked with Jim Foster and Mike Murray's team to organise a draft of the final plan, which was to be presented to the Steering Committee at their meeting on 25 January 1968. Taking the text and illustrations from the nine reports, Jim and I proceeded to organise it so that the plan could be read in its entirety by the general public, reducing sometimes lengthy reports into a chapter of twelve pages or so. It was often a struggle to capture the essence of a report using as few technical terms as possible and eliminating any planning jargon that might have inadvertently crept in. With dictionary and thesaurus nearby we would ponder each word and phrase until we were both satisfied, but we had to be careful to keep as near as possible the original text so that the committee would recognise it as something they had already approved. If questioned we would need to be able to refer to the reports and make clear that where changes had occurred they had been made solely in the interests of clarity and continuity.
I have often reflected on my decision to leave the Munce Partnership, and while in the long run I had no reason to regret my decision, I realised that my people-participation model did not fit very well with the aggressive entrepreneurial goals of private practice. My planning qualifications had not been acquired without great cost to myself and my young family and I cherished the title of chartered planner. While my ethical standards might have been described as overly conservative at the time, Jimmy's Nietzschean approach to practice sometimes left me unnerved. When we had finished the Derry plan Jimmy had anticipated that we might somehow become involved in its implementation. To his credit he had been prepared to gamble on this and must have sustained considerable losses in producing the plan. While his time commitment and role in Derry had made him a background figure as far as the team was concerned, his advocacy at meetings and his work behind the scenes were critical in dealing with the Steering Committee and getting the plan accepted.
Nevertheless even today I find the necessary marketing aspects of private practice un-comfortable and look back with some nostalgia to what seemed to have been a time when work was earned solely on the basis of reputation. I realise, however, that this pre-fifties model is probably a chimera of my own making, and in this too I have not yet wholly succeeded in discarding my Candide-like persona. But working for the Belfast city planning department, in public service, and being placed in charge of a small office of a dozen or so staff responsible for urban design and design review for a city of approximately 700,000 seemed to be a good alternative to even the imagined vicissitudes of private practice. Also, notwithstanding the spectre of the ring road at that stage in my career it offered a more secure if less exciting livelihood. But my ability to successfully persuade private architects to take more cognizance of the context of their buildings and their social responsibilities, met with more success in contrast to the downright opposition I encountered in my dealings with the city architect's department.
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