John Harris

Journalist & Author

Save the library, lose the pool: Newcastle finds self-help has its limits as cuts bite

Community groups are trying to fill the gaps but the hacking back of council services has just begun, John Harris finds
On a weekday morning in Blakelaw, two miles from the heart of Newcastle, the scene inside a community centre suggests a perfect example of what David Cameron used to call the “big society”.
Local women have gathered for a “coffee and conversation” session, while people nearby are cutting flyers for a residents’ association’s…

The Bristol conundrum: ‘Gentrification is a danger – and if you’re poor, you’re really, really stretched’

In the last of his series of urban dispatches, John Harris encounters a city where civic pride and cultural vivacity are tinged with fears that Bristol is changing in ways some people find hard to take
“Bristol is perhaps the one southern city which really feels independent of London,” writes Owen Hatherley in his brilliant architectural travelogue A New Kind Of Bleak. During the six weeks I have spent immersing myself in four English…

‘Send more rich people!’ The reinvention of the once-great naval city of Plymouth

Plymouth relied on its dockyards for 350 years and when they fell into decline the city started to question why it existed at all. In the latest in his series of urban reports, John Harris finds an insight into the future of all British cities
Twenty years after their cultural peak, the 1990s seem to have been fixed in the culture as a decade of primary-coloured hedonism, and politics almost wholly free of substance: the…

The great reinvention of Manchester: ‘It’s far more pleasant than London’

A median age of 29? The tallest all-steel apartment building in the UK? Actual enthusiasm on the streets? In the latest in his series of urban reports, John Harris marvels at the improbably glitzy revival of England’s second city
Jake Stainton is 23. For his sins, he grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon – but from his late teens onwards, he and a few friends began a once-monthly ritual involving a weekend drive up north, and a…

Can a new Bradford emerge from a hole in the ground?

Once a booming textile capital, Bradford has long fallen on hard times. Regeneration efforts have been patchy, but a new shopping centre opens this week. Can it help to overcome the austerity and lazy racial stereotyping that dog the city?
For most of the past 10 years, the centre of Bradford has been dominated by a vast empty space. Some locals called it “the hole in the heart” or the “Bradford Hole”; others knew…

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