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Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the Twenty First Century City
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Ground Control: Fear and Happiness in the Twenty First Century City

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  201 ratings  ·  17 reviews
When the figures say crime is falling, why are we more frightened than ever? Could our towns and cities be creating fear and mistrust? More property is being built in Britain than at any time since the Second World War - but it's owned by private corporations, designed for profit and watched over by CCTV. From the Docklands boom to cities such as Manchester, gated apartmen ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 25th 2009 by Penguin
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Oct 22, 2012 rated it did not like it
Ground control covers an intensely important issue in modern British life: the alienation of public spaces from the public. One can't even picnic near major London landmarks without being moved on by council wardens. You can't take photographs in the street without being harrassed by the police. Urban designers and traffic planners are engaged to make public places physically inaccessible and unpleasant. Public highways are sold to private companies, who get to make and enforce new rules beyond ...more
Jun 16, 2014 rated it really liked it
If you go to the Broadmead shopping area in Bristol there are benches where you can sit and lean back and admire the weird pole things that pass for decoration or sculpture in the area. Right next to Broadmead, in the Cabot Circus shopping centre, you can sit admiring the vaulting glass roof and looking down at people milling down into the centre's plaza. But the benches there are giant flat blocks of stone. Lots of people seem to prefer to sit on the steps instead.

Why are those benches so obvio
Sep 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Although I agree with the thesis of this book and it makes some good points, I cannot help but wish it was a bit better written. The style grated with me as it included a number of habits that I’ve trained myself to avoid. Examples include frequent references to other sections (‘As described in chapter 7...’), repetitiousness, and use of anecdotal evidence whilst condemning others for doing so. Moreover, the author is clearly not versed in planning and thus does not explain legal concepts like S ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-uni, non-fiction
I will be starting my Masters in Spatial Planning in a few weeks time, and this was top of the reading list I was sent.

This book was incredibly thoroughly researched, and was a fascinating introduction to how cities work in 21st Century Britain. While I was reading this I was reminded of Private Island: How the UK Was Sold, another book from which I learnt a tremendous amount about my country, most of it eye opening (in a bad way).

I think it is awful that a lot of the information presented her
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
an absolutely excellent read, though a bit depressing about what we have let the UK become and a damming indication of New Labours policy (sell off the family silver cheaply to private capital) that they have built up on thatcherism.
Jun 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: urban-studies
Anna Minton has given us a treat with this engaging book, weaving together the privatisation of the space of the city, the urban failure that is housing policy since the 1980s and the paradoxical way that attempts to design cities and policy to make us ‘safer’ finish up making us more scared. This is an excoriation of the contemporary city and of state (nation and local) efforts to manage it through privatisation – in both its economic and its personal meanings. Throughout she manages to channel ...more
Tara Brabazon
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A remarkable book. Minton started writing this book at a time of economic prosperity (for some) and completed it in the wreckage of the Global Financial Crisis. Anger and seething resistance bubble through the pages.

What is happening to cities - London, Manchester, Salford, Edinburgh and Truro - is the punctuation of this book. The loss of 'public good' is clearly revealed and the consequences on people, families and the economy well configured.

Minton's argument is profound: “So many of today’s
Timothy Urban
Jul 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Rather dry (esp after reading A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain, also excellent) but a very focused and revealing look at the hopeless state of housing policy and planning in Britain today.

Thatcher may have created the problem, but it was in the Blair era that it was utterly compounded. Now housing has become a market driven investment opportunity few can offord, rather than simply places to live.

Minton's calm and considered book takes it all to pieces and shows what a shambolic approa
Jonathan Norton
Britain has a housing crisis. We also have a problem that the new developments which are going up are tending to be of the characterless, gated private-policed variety. This was originally printed in 2009 and has been updated to include a new chapter about the Olympics - which demonstrates that community action groups and pledges really don't count for anything once they've served their PR purposes. All the trends described here were put in a deep freeze following the credit crunch, but should b ...more
Clare O'Beara
This book looks at how public land in UK has been sold off to private developers for housing, shops and offices, sometimes all in the one development, and how gated developments are on the rise.
I like a lot of the research presented as to how ordinary people have become surrounded by 'tinned up' houses awaiting demolition. Those who don't want to move out of their community are just an obstruction with a tiny voice which the developers counter with legal challenges and further encroachment of t
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Caro Harper
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was good although not always accurate (I am a town planner in London). Compelling nonetheless, and raises lots of questions.
Brodie Mcgregor
The thesis of this book is important, however, I did not particularly like Minton's style to writing. At times her argument was polemic rather than considered and there is a lot of redundancy in her writing as there is too much repetition.

In many ways the book is paradigmatic of much that is wrong with British politics in that while the author tries to give examples out-with London her thesis and the book remains essentially Londoncentric. An obvious glaring omission for consideration is the 20
Jan 04, 2014 rated it liked it
Thorough and readable approach to a subject that doesn't get enough coverage. Focused on the UK. Unfortunately, the optimism expressed in the book's final chapter has proved unwarranted since the book was published (2009).
Mat Barnett
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it
A thorough dissection of the social and psychological cost of urban planning and misguided social engineering. Anna Minton raises urgent questions about the meaning of liberty in contemporary society and the importance of defending our public space.
Oct 18, 2009 added it
May be final straw that makes me leave labour party... Very good, there has been a revolution going on in regards housing and commercial development, but we missed it somehow. Also very good on how more CCTV does not reduce crime or even the fear of crime.
Nov 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Comprehensive debunking of the last 20 years of planning policy, private sector take-overs of our towns, and security focused design. Revealing. Disturbing.
Steve Mentiply
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