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Bradford council faces boycott following dispute with URBED

Masterplanner URBED has threatened to organise a boycott of Bradford City Council after it shelved the practice's plans for the regeneration of the city centre, developed together with Penoyre and Prasad.

URBED won the competition to masterplan Bradford last September, but its winning design has been completely sidelined from the area's regeneration scheme. And now it plans to organise a boycott by local masterplanners if the council puts the brief for the area out to another competition.

URBED and Penoyre & Prasad's designs were dumped after regional development agency Yorkshire Forward established an Urban Regeneration Company for the city. With more cash to spend the scale of the scheme increased dramatically.

URBED design director David Rudlin said he received notice that Bradford was putting its masterplan on hold just two weeks after winning the competition last year.

And now, he claimed, the council is going a step further and is readying itself to re-tender the whole scheme. Rudlin said he is furious with the way his firm has been treated, describing the council's managers as 'dysfunctional'.

'For the whole of the last year, the council has been telling us that the plan has only been postponed, so we worked with them to find ways to rework the design and extend the project, ' he said.

'But it seems certain it has now decided to kill our designs altogether.'

So the firm is now considering a more aggressive approach - to write to the other practices on the original competition's shortlist, which includes BDP, to suggest a joint legal claim for abortive expenses.

'A claim like this could certainly get the council's attention, ' Rudlin added.

However, Bradford City Council's head of regeneration, Martin Banzeller, dismissed URBED's complaints, saying it has no legal rights in this situation. 'We had not signed a contract and although we respect the fact that they must have put a lot of effort in, we did not promise to pay them expenses, ' he said. 'We were within our rights to pull out. We never promised URBED that we would appoint them. There was a chance that we might have stuck with them after we got the offer of the Urban Regeneration Company, but it seems unlikely now.'

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