Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

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60 seconds: Nothing to Loos

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60 seconds: Nothing to Loos

Afternoon,

It is something I always preach to the development industry: Ask communities what they want, NOT what you THINK they want.

Too often we are asked to ‘sell’ a project to the community. We are brought in at the stage where a fully worked-up masterplan – down to the last tree – has been formulated and there is no wiggle-room for change or amendment.

Local residents then have two choices: like it or lump it. Guess which is most common.

So, you must think outside the box, or, indeed, the (water) closet.

aca469b1-848b-497e-98f6-f843cd6a7e81According to the British Toilet Association (I promise I’m not making that up), there are now 39% less public facilities in the UK than in 1998.

Public houses, where at one time you could nip in for a ‘quick one’, now have armed guards on their loos – or at least coded locks.  And in a real touch of irony, many of our public loos are now bars, which in turn, put even more pressure on the system. Not to mention our bladders.

In Kentish Town, London, there is a real posh cocktail bar in a disused public toilet. It maintains the original porcelain tiling as well as a wall of urinals (this season’s must have interior fashion statement apparently).

Local residents, who are not short of a penny, put up the ‘engaged’ signs when the plans were first mooted, but the developers had the guts to hold out. They even named a cocktail ‘NIMBY’ (said to be a very bitter drink).

What lessons for developers then? What could you put into your Section 106 or CIL agreement? Remember, you must give people what they want not what you think they want.

So why not offer new loos as part of the 106. You could even be those new super-duper ones where the door shuts behind you and you get the awful feeling you’re about to be hosed down.

After all, there’s nothing to lose.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


This week at Curtin&Co
This week Curtin&Co is delighted to introduce the latest member of our team, Sachin Shah, who has joined our London office as an Account Manager.  Sachin was the Labour Leader of Harrow Council between 2016 and 2018.  As Leader of the Council, Sachin chaired Harrow Council’s Regeneration Board, steering the Council through consultations on controversial schemes in marginal council wards, as well as setting the direction on the £1.75 billion programme.  He has been a member of Harrow’s Planning Committee since 2011 and so has substantial experience in understanding the needs and aspirations of councillors who consider planning applications.Curtin&Co has expanded our London team.  Please contact us for further details about our credentials and how we can assist you on your developments.

In the news
The grass is always greener 
New green belt housing applications push total to a record 460,000

Miss EU 
Weaker pound encourages Eu buyers back to London


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 seconds: Gardeners’ World

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60 seconds: Gardeners’ World

Morning,

Parents, show your kids the back door… and into the garden.

Of course, you love them dearly but listening to Drake (he’s not a duck) on repeat at full volume coming from the spare room is not fun.

But now there is an answer to your prayers: move them into the back garden.

You’ve heard of glamping – glamourous camping, although I think this is the ultimate oxymoron – well now we have the deluxe version.

1f04fbe4-827c-4546-b6d8-5fd58e5b6971It’s called the Conker.

Now when I was a young man, long before Play Station and smartphones, we used to divert ourselves by playing conkers: you got a chestnut on a piece of string and tried to bash the other boy’s conker. At one stage I had ‘conker 29’ having beaten others (sorry younger people if you find this boring.)

Creative engineer Jag Virdie has come up with a truly conkers idea. (Even though he is called Jag, he worked for Rolls Royce. Strange.)

Mr Virdie is offering a 13ft diameter sphere in people’s back gardens (what’s one of those; young people ask me), called the ‘Conker’.

Aren’t millennials lucky?  Enough space for a bed, microwave and a toilet! No doubt they’ll be available for rent in London soon enough – only £700p/w.

Multiple pods can be fitted together in a modular style leaving enough room for a double bed, kitchenette and even an en-suite.

Young people can stride boldly into the world, displaying their independence. By moving ten yards away.

So, if you’re fed up of your teenager slobbing about the house (who isn’t?) and have always dreamed of having them mere yards away from your door, safely cocooned in their own nut-shaped domain, (who hasn’t?) and you have £21,000 to spare then the Conker could be the solution for you.

Primarily designed for students who have returned home and yearn for their independence (and parents who yearn for their independence too), the pods offer peace and tranquillity for all involved. And all within easy reach of Mum to still do the washing and ironing.

Heaven.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


In the news

You’ve been Gazumped
Survey finds that banning gazumping is top housing policy change wanted in Britain

Broken London
Brokenshire attacks Khan’s London Plan

House Arrest
Commitment to help ‘mortgage prisoners’

On The Rebound 
UK house prices experience ‘modest rebound’ in July


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 seconds: Divorce and Mrs May

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60 seconds: Divorce and Mrs May

Morning,

Divorce can be a messy business. Especially when one side does not really want to divorce. The lawyers hover like vultures to fight their side for their own cause.

This week, we’ve seen two high profile divorce cases hitting speed bumps. Seemingly, being unhappy isn’t a reasonable case for divorce. Poor Tini Owens had her appeal dismissed by the Supreme Court, meaning she must remain married to her husband until 2020.

84459f0e-c5b3-4e0c-b277-051b2ccc0494As parliament heads into its summer break, Theresa May might even be dreaming of the UK’s divorce from the EU, given the pressure stepping up from across the political spectrum for a second referendum. The cynics in the room might raise a legitimate question as to which divorce will be finalised sooner – Mrs Owens’ or the EU.

Now, the problem with divorce goes back to our teenage years when we’ve all had the ignominy of being dumped. The person being dumped naturally feels aggrieved even if it was obvious that the relationship had nowhere to go. There is often a feeling of: ‘I wished I had dumped them first’.

So think how the poor old EU felt when the people of the UK decided to dump them.

Then we are insisting that we want to set the terms of the divorce. Is it any wonder that the austere M. Barnier and M. ‘Jolly’ Juncker are waiting like boxers in the corner of a ring for poor old Mrs May?

Meanwhile, the glamorous Mrs Owens (still her husband’s name) must live in a loveless marriage until she and her husband have been separated for five years. She failed to convince the judge that her husband’s behaviour was ‘unreasonable’ – certainly not a fault that can be levelled at the Brexit campaign.

Perhaps she should have enlisted the services of that renowned legal firm: Johnson, Gove & Davis.

See you in Court.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


In the news

Jail Housing Rocked
Up to 5 years in prison for criminals who use UK property market for money laundering

Summer time (housing) sadness
UK housing market lull drags into summer, says Nationwide

Quality street
Government publishes NPPF with vow to deliver quality homes


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Seconds: Taxation is a taxing business

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60 Seconds: Taxation is a taxing business

Evening,

So, you think Mrs May has problems?  Well they pale into insignificance compared to the poor old Prime Minister of Haiti.

He’s just had the boot. (We will come back to footwear later).
Why, you may ask, was he kicked out and what’s it got to do with me?

Mr Lafontant made a number of mistakes which led to his downfall.

His first was to impose taxes on fuel at 40%.

Here he could have learnt a lesson from the UK which tried to raise taxes on fuel much more subtly every year through the fuel escalator.

But this was not a tax rise – no, it was designed to cut down on car use and so protect the environment. As if.

This all came to a grinding halt in 2000 when the truckers of the UK blocked the oil refineries. Mrs May is now tempted to reintroduce the escalator in order to pay for the NHS’s 70th birthday present.

In poor old hurricane-ravaged Haiti they take all this a little more seriously and in the riots that followed, three people died.

Mr Lafontant then made a second mistake.  He tried to sneak the price rise through during the World Cup.  The Haitian’s own football team is no great shakes, so the locals are huge Brazilian followers.  It was during this match that this price rise was announced.

The PM was sure the South Americans would easily defeat the bureaucrats of Belgium, and in the ensuing euphoria, no one would notice the price rise on fuel.  Oops.

Sneaking tax prices through the back door goes back a long way.  Income Tax was introduced in the UK as a temporary measure in 1799 to cover the cost of the Napoleonic Wars.  It still is a temporary tax and has to be reviewed every year.

For local authorities, (giving capping of Council Tax) their only real means of raising additional funds are through Section 106 agreements or CIL.

Now whether these are blackmail or bribery is another question.

Let’s presume it is not top of Mrs May’s shopping list nor indeed is her footwear.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


This week at Curtin&Co

It has been a very busy week for Curtin&Co. Firstly, we were delighted to be part of the project team that secured consent for a temporary storage facility at Wyton Airfield, Huntingdonshire on behalf of J Waltons.

“We were highly impressed with the insight Curtin&Co gave to the local political landscape and the impetus which this gave to securing a contentious planning permission at RAF Wyton in the face of significant resistance from some local Parish Councils. We’d highly recommend Curtin&Co to anyone seeking to secure strategic development proposals.”

Brian Mullin
Partner, Marrons Planning

Secondly, we were delighted to be part of the project team that secured consent for a mixed use development of 81 units at New Kent Road, Southwark, on behalf of Capital Homes. Congratulations to everyone involved!

Finally, Curtin&Co hosted its annual Summer reception on the Terrace Pavilion at the House of Commons. Thank you to John Healey MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, for speaking at the event.  Also, a big thank you to Andrew Lewer MP, for sponsoring the event. And of course, thank you to everyone who attended – it was a fantastic afternoon!

In the news

Bleak house 
James Brokenshire provides stronger powers for councils to tackle empty homes

Curtin&Co’s David chats to City AM 
Opinion: How can the government claim to care about housing when it’s just appointed its third housing minister in seven months?

First-time buyers stamped out
Stamp duty clogging up property ladder as first-time buyer sales overtake home movers

Sea-riously good views
Sea view can add more than 50 percent to price of a home


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Seconds: Play your (electric) cars right

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60 Seconds: Play your (electric) cars right

Afternoon,

When I worked in the nuclear industry – one of my career high points along with being a cockroach exterminator in New York (seriously), we’d ask people where electricity came from. The answer invariably was: the plug.

The latest government tizzy is all about electric cars. The government is planning to make sure every new home has an electric car charging point.

Brilliant. But where is the power going to come from? Yep, surprisingly a power station of some sort; be it wind, fossil fuels or nuclear.

In all fairness to Mrs May, she was decisive enough when she was first elected, waving through Hinckley and the third Heathrow runway. No dithering there.

The problem with these electric cars is that they are not addressing the problem of the level of traffic on the roads. There is almost an acceptance that the car is the right of every citizen. So who will build the infrastructure to house these noiseless beasts?

Governments of all shades have spent years trying to get us up on bikes (a ‘no’ from me – you won’t catch me in lycra), into busses and trains, or pounding the footpaths. Whole housing developments have been built on the issue of ‘sustainability’ which, rightly translated, means a car-free world.

No doubt electric car technology will improve but at the moment home charging takes ages and it’s simply more convenient to top your car up with petrol or diesel.

In addition, the chargers are fragile; in Scotland, someone put a Cadbury’s Creme Egg in one and it wrecked it. No, the egg wasn’t deep fried.

Although cutting carbon emissions is an important goal, mandatory charging points with every housing development creates yet another consideration for house builders and yet another factor that will push up prices.

That being said, they might be a good route to achieving buy-in from local communities, and I’m sure they’ll go down well with planning committees. They love all of that green stuff.

I’m off to find my fuse box.

Have a great weekend.

Tom


This week at Curtin&Co

This week Curtin&Co is delighted to introduce the latest member of the team, Joanna Christophides, who has joined our London office as an Account Manager. Joanna has an extensive background working in both local and national government. Previous to this Joanna was a Councillor for the London Borough of Haringey for 8 years, where she sat on Haringey’s Planning Committee. She was also campaign organiser for the Labour Party in Haringey and before that worked for a number of London MPs. She is a brilliant addition to our London team. Welcome Joanna!

In the news

Electric cars are charging ahead
Charge points could be requirement in new build homes

Curtin&Co’s Katie chats to Planning Resource about Kit Malthouse
What Kit Malthouse’s appointment as housing minister means for planning

Curtin&Co’s David chats to Planning Resource about Dominic Raab
Raab moved from housing and planning post to take on Brexit brief

And Finally…

Bot the builder
The future of building? Watch the French ‘builderbot’ that 3D printed a family home for five in just 54 hours


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Seconds: The only way is Essex

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60 Seconds: The only way is Essex

As Mrs May heads for the biggest showdown of her life, after the last biggest showdown and just before the next biggest showdown, she should look East to the fine County of Essex.

In particular, she should look at Babergh and the town of Hadleigh. ‘To hell with the will of people’, could be town’s new motto.

There seems to be a bit of in-fighting – to put it mildly – between the good burghers. The former Deputy Major, Bill Wilson, called for a poll of the people with one simple question (a bit like Brexit): “Would you like the current Councillors of Hadleigh Town Council to resign?”

8de787a5-ebc6-4b02-a844-521e866be298Babergh and Mid-Suffolk District Councils organised the poll which resulted as follows:

Yes: 489 votes
No: 252 votes.

None of your close margins of 52-48 like Brexit: this was a clear vote for those calling for the end of what they termed a ‘dysfunctional council.’

But, and there is always a ‘but’, the turnout was only 11% which Mr Wilson attributes to short polling hours, no postal votes and England playing football. For local government, 11% is not bad, in my view.

So the Town Council bent to the will of the people? Not a bit of it. They refused point blank to resign, rightly saying that the poll had no legal status.  What the District Council was doing wasting money running it, is a different question.

The current Mayor, Peter Matthews, said it ‘would be business as usual’ until the elections next May’ pointing out that the ‘out’ vote was only 6% of the Town’s population.

Now there are lessons here for the Prime Minister. If she can’t get any agreement at Chequers, she should pop down to Hadleigh to get some real lessons in democracy and the ‘will of the people’.

If you see a fast car heading east on the M25 this evening, you’ll know who it is.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


This week at Curtin&Co

Curtin&Co was delighted to be part of the project team that secured planning consent for a new filling station in Worcester on behalf of Forelle Estates.

“We are enjoying a good run at planning having secured several consents in the past year and have found the work of Curtin&Co to greatly assist help build support for our applications”.

Mike Price,
Managing Director, Forelle Estates

This week in the news
Policy Exchange: housing speech​
Speech by the Secretary of State the Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP

Building More, Building Beautiful – Policy Exchange report
How design and style can unlock the housing crisis

Tackle five-year land supplies to help solve the housing crisis
The Times Red Box piece by James Cartlidge, MP for South Suffolk

And Finally…

Chapel on the Hill
Ed Sheeran’s plans for private chapel on his estate refused


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Seconds: Housing by any other name

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tom3c70f0c3ca84

60 Seconds: Housing by any other name

Evening,

“The devil has all the good tunes” is an old Irish saying. And it’s truer today than ever.

So let’s start with a little test:

(a) What was Donald Trump’s slogan for the presidential election?

What was Hilary Clinton’s?

(b) What was Guinness’s traditional advertising slogan?

What is it now?

(c) What is CPRE’s slogan on housing?

What is the slogan of the development industry?

If you got all six right, you should really get out a little more. Answers at the bottom of this post.

To sell anything you need a good slogan or catchphrase and at the moment the house building industry does not have one.

It wasn’t always that way. The First World War had a lot of outcomes and one was the sudden realisation of the health of the recruits. So. Lloyd George instituted a campaign of ‘Homes Fit for Heroes.’ Now that’s got a ring to it.

b521b6b8-15f9-4059-9fa8-855bbd2a5b4aThe aim was to build half-a-million homes within three years, but in the end only 200,000 were built. Is this beginning to sound a little familiar?

Poverty was again the main driver for the next boom in housebuilding with a 1930 Act to clear slums. Now, we can all sign up to ‘slum clearance’ and in the years between the wars, a million council houses were built.

After the Second World War came another boom with more Homes for Heroes and the 1960s boom in house building, an all-time peak.

Then came the New Towns, a slogan in itself. Even the most hardened NIMBY should be able to sign up to these as they are the ultimate BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

So we need a catch-phrase for today. And this isn’t easy: ‘Pads for Young Professionals’ doesn’t have a great ring to it nor does ‘Flats for Attic Floppers’ nor ‘Joints for Juniors’ (Sorry I’m running out of ideas.)

But if we are to sell the idea of housing we need what is known as a descriptor.

Have a good weekend.

Tom

Answers:

(A) Make America Great Again
Can’t remember

(B) Guinness is good for you.
Made of more (what tosh)

(C) Concreting over the Countryside
Mmmmmmm


This week at Curtin&Co
This week Curtin&Co is thrilled to have been part of the project team that secured planning consent for a new filling station on Nunnery Way, Worcester, on behalf of Forelle Estates.

And Finally…

You khan’t build there
Sadiq Khan’s London Plan: Bromley councillor starts in Mayor’s back garden

Lib Dems e-Vince desire to enter the housing debate
Vince Cable Housing Speech, 26th June 2018

Live and Leftwin
Independent review of build out: draft analysis


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288


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60 Seconds: Keep your head in the sand

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tom3c70f0c3ca84

60 Seconds: Keep your head in the sand

Morning,

You’ve jumped through all the hoops to try to get your planning permission: archaeology, ecology, hydrology and seismology.

Not to mention sustainability, viability, feasibility and arability. And of course there is infrastructure, architecture and leisure.

And then you get a recommendation for refusal. Why?

You have not considered Smartphone-ability. This does not refer to the strength of the mobile signal or the interference your structure may cause.

No, structures must be designed to be safe for mobile phones users who, like ostriches, walk around with their heads in the sand.

9fbd376f-245d-4377-897a-d44b965858c1The latest victim of the safety police is a stretch of water (what we used to call a feature) called The Rill on the south back of the Thames. This lovely rivulet – a couple of feet wide – breaks up the ‘More London Estate’, 13 acres of concrete which was a finalist in the Carbuncle Cup for badly designed development.

And why is being filled in? The ostriches kept tripping into it while tweeting at the same time. No one has been seriously hurt.

I owe one to The Guardian who have been digging up (bad pun) some more nonsenses which have become the victim of the Smartphonholics™.

Salisbury Cathedral had to remove a lovely statue of clasped hands because the ostriches kept banging their heads into it.

They have the right approach in Honolulu – you get a $35 on the spot fine for crossing the street while looking at your phone, trying to get a date on Tinder or Grindr. Dead right.

Is there anything really that urgent? Don’t answer that.

So when you are submitting that planning permission and if you including a water feature, then be sure to get some Great Crested Newts to move in.

That way it won’t be concreted over.

Have a good weekend.

Tom


The week ahead

A school will receive an architectural prize even though locals claim it has caused traffic bordering on “carnage”

Khan he do it again?

London Mayor Sadiq Khan to seek second term

For the millennial, not the few 
Tory MPs challenge May to adopt radical housing agenda in bid for younger voters’ support

Lover not a fighter

Local people should learn to love new homes and not fight them, says James Brokenshire

And Finally…

Football’s coming homes
Final green light for Gary Neville’s St Michael’s scheme from housing secretary


Curtin&Co specialises in the fields of Community Consultation and Political Engagement, especially around development, and Reputation & Crisis Management.

Curtin&Co has grown rapidly to a team of over 20 highly qualified political, community engagement and reputation management specialists, having been founded by Tom Curtin in 2009.  In 2016, Curtin&Co was delighted to be listed in PR Week’s Top 150 Public Relations consultancies at number 86 and in the Top 10 Public Affairs consultancies at number 8; a recognition of the quality of the service and growth achieved.

To find out more visit www.curtinandco.com or call Helen Barrett on 0207 399 2288