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Pulling up the shutters

August 12, 2011

Pic by Stuart Grout

Planning found itself unexpectedly blamed for exacerbating the impact of the riots when David Cameron addressed MPs yesterday. The prime minister said planning regulations had made it difficult for shops to install metal shutters…


CLG has since confirmed it will consult on making shutters and other security measures permitted development. The proposal has prompted mixed reactions.

Duncan McCallum, national advice director at English Heritage, said: “In principle, shutters can work very well. We would be concerned is where they affect historic buildings and conservation areas. The danger with permitted development is allowing people to put in standard issue shutters which often are very ugly. Often with permitted development you can exclude certain areas or equally you may be able to say what kind of shutters you want.”

Tony Burton, director at Civic Voice, said: “Where is the evidence that planning is stopping shutters going up where they are needed? It’s a classic knee-jerk reaction and a symptom of a wider misunderstanding about planning that sees it as bureaucracy and red tape rather than as a tool which involves the very people who care about the high street.”

John Silvester, spokesman for the Planning Officers Society, said: “Where premises are not in conservation areas or listed buildings, I suppose it would make sense for a streamlined process. An attractive window display is an important part of the street scene and we wouldn’t want to lose that. But there are ways and means with shutters – you need to have the appropriate shutters in the right place.”

Shane Brennan, public affairs director at the Association of Convenience Stores, said: “It’s good news. Anything to remove bureaucracy is a good thing. Retailers will always think safety first, particularly now and they are going to want to put shutters in place. There are ways we can do it that are better than others and we would encourage retailers to think in those terms.”

This post was written by Mark Wilding.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom permalink
    August 12, 2011 12:25 pm

    I love Cameron, its somewhat heartening that such a complete pillock has risen to be Prime Minister. You’ve got to hand it to him, he never lets complete ignorance get in the way of knee jerk reaction to pander to the press.

    I don’t think anyone would agrue about making shops secure, but roller shutters don’t do this. They are ineffective, create a fortress mentaility, remove active, somethimes attractive frontages from view, and just lead to areas being no-go zones at nights.

    Much better are well designed shop fronts, with internal shutters. These create a much better atmosphere which may actually reduce crime in an area.

    But besides anything else its the wrong issue. Its like saying cars should have better suspension because the roads are in such a poor state. It tackling the result, assuming that riots will happen, its not tackling the causes of the problems at all. In fact, it could actually exacerbate them.

    Also, where is the evidence that planning is causing problems. Or is it just Cameron, after a few cheap shots as the police response, deciding to have another go at his most hated enemies, the planners……

  2. August 12, 2011 12:27 pm

    Lee Newnham, who took that photo, points out on his blog that looters went for shops such as Footlocker, Dixons, Money Shop, Jeweller, Pharmacists and Off-licenses irrespective of whether there were shutters, and ripped them off in minutes. Wheras shops next door without shutters were left alone.

    Bob Neill will have seen this with his own eyes walking around Woolwich today. A pure focus of target hardening never works.

    http://whatifsydenham.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/368/

    The governments and the polices own advice is that shutters can increase crime through creating dead, dark, graffiti ridden frontage – where is the evidence for the policy change – have they listened to the Home Office’s own crime prevention college at Stafford?

    http://andrewlainton.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/cameron-blames-planners-over-riots-we-will-remove-unecessary-planning-regulations-over-roller-shutters-londonriots/

    Oddly enough most of the riots in London took place in conservation areas, such as Ealing Green, Church Street Croyden, Clapham Junction, Wolverhampton Town Centre etc. With some exceptions its because that where the high value goods shops are.

    A crudely designed PD approach would be idiotic requiring necessary exemptions in those locations where poorly designed shutters could have a negative effect on crime, but also being those areas most likely to be looted and where shutters have least, or even no, real deterrence.

    It is knee jerk idiocy as the Independent leader rightly said today.

  3. August 12, 2011 12:27 pm

    In some ways it would be a knee-jerk reaction, but on the other hand there is going to be a consultation process, so it’s not going to happen overnight and if it happens at all it is only going to be after full consideration.

    Any PD rights could be subject to limitations (which could deal with conservation areas and listed buildings) and there is always the possibility of Article 4 directions.

    There are, of course, many locations (including many inner city neighbourhoods) where the issue of shutters is unlikely to be contentious and I can see value in streamlining the process, not as a result of the current problems but as a result of security concerns of long standing and which will continue to be an issue in the future.

  4. SCH permalink
    August 12, 2011 2:04 pm

    It’s a knee jerk reaction inasmuch as if we hadn’t had the thieving / looting / vandalism that we’ve seen this week, even the Boy David wouldn’t be giving a second thought to the Major and Pressing Issue that is security shuttering in town and city centres … in actual fact, as pointed out elsewhere, shutters in conservation areas / on listed buildings would be more likely to be looked at with disapproval and refused permission (unless they were internal and of an open design), as they often were when I was working as a conservation planner with the Conservation Advisory Committee (Tory-led).

    As Tom also said above, I kneel in awe of the slick way the government has managed to start wriggling out from under any implied or possible criticism of its own role / response to the mass thieving by gesticulating wildly in the vague direction of just about everyone else … “It wasn’t me!! A lot of not-very-big boys did it and ran away!”

  5. August 12, 2011 3:37 pm

    Thanks Andrew for the link to our blog (we didn’t take the picture, we linked to it in our blog), this is a knee jerk reaction which may well make out town centres feel even more like industrial no-go high security zones which will mean less investment, more empty shops which in-turn creates a spiral of depravation, dirt, graffiti and in turn more crime.

    However, if shutters are installed it is possible to use them in a way that doesn’t make our streetscapes look like a scene out of Mad Max:

    http://whatifsydenham.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/security-shutters-dont-have-to-be-ugly/

  6. Roger permalink
    August 12, 2011 5:16 pm

    Yet another issue to be added to the list I would name the ‘I told you so list’. The purpose of the list would to demonstrate what disaster it had been to throw the baby out with the bath water in respect of planning controls.

  7. Pandora permalink
    August 13, 2011 10:41 am

    Erm, shouldn’t it be a local decision about shutters if you are plugging localism!!!

  8. RichardW permalink
    August 16, 2011 10:50 am

    Where’s the response from the RTPI?

  9. Necropolis permalink
    August 16, 2011 7:42 pm

    Oh and just on another riot related but non roller shutter topic… I dunno about anyone else, but I’ve been bemused by the coverage of rioting in Salford. The BBC (aka voice of Cameron) did a lovely piece interviewing Pendleton locals about their lack of prospects and poor environment…

    Not one news outlet has mentioned that in July, Shapps gave permission for a £110 million PFI to rebuild the entire estate and shopping centre. Weird. Obviously doesnt fit the press stories of the oppressed masses. You’d thought the Government woud capitalise on it!

  10. August 19, 2011 9:44 am

    As a retired police Crime Prevention Design Adviser in the Met I do not want to see a return to miles of shuttered high streets. I recall Southall in the aftermath of the riots in the 1980s; Southall Broadway was plunged into darkness at night because of the solid shutters and the local authority had to upgrade the street lighting as a consequence. The shutters were covered in graffiti tags just as soon as they went in and if there were burglars inside the shop the police wouldn’t be able to see them! This ultimately led to planning restrictions across the Borough and quite right too!

    I did notice from the TV images that the use of laminated glass in some of the shop windows certainly slowed down the attackers and likewise did you see how ineffective some of the shutters were?

    I would much rather see more use of laminated glass with internal roller grilles, together with an alarm fitted with ‘Smoke Cloak’ (look it up) or DNA spray. There’s now a laminate that uses polycarbonate in place of PVB. It’s expensive, but is considerably more resistant to the types of attacks we saw. Shopkeepers who are going to install shutters should at least use ones that have been certificated to LPS 1175 Security rating 2 – with laminated glass in their windows.

    A return to (reinforced) stall risers would also be of benefit, a) to prevent ram raiding and b) to reduce the amount of costly laminate glass.

    Above all there is an opportunity to scientifically appraise the effectiveness of the various crime prevention measures that were either overcome or were successful during the riots and perhaps a gathering of experts could come up with some acceptable solutions. I would rather this reaction than the one we’re seeing.

    I’ll cover this subject on The Crime Prevention Website.com when it launches later this year.

  11. August 24, 2011 3:58 pm

    Calvin, do you mind if I quote you on my blog (the one andrew kindly mentioned above) as I think what you say is important. I will also link to your site.

  12. August 25, 2011 12:07 pm

    Dear Designed By Good People

    Please be my guest and the link will be appreciated, although not launching until around November.

    If I’m supplied with a names and email addresses to calvinbeckford1@gmail.com I’ll let you and your colleagues know when the site launches – about 145K words of crime prevention advice.

    Peace

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