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CABE blasts 'defensive' police headquarters scheme

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The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment has launched an assault on a pfi design for a police headquarters building in Sutton town centre, branding it 'defensive, unfriendly and anonymous'.

The U-shaped scheme with double-pitch roofs around a central car park, drawn up by architects Clifford Tee & Gale with Raymond Smith Partnership, is for Lain Hyder, named as the preferred bidder of one of two competing pfi schemes submitted for planning permission. It has street frontages on three sides and faces Manor Park and the town's war memorial.

But cabe's design review committee said the divisional hq was 'completely unacceptable', noting that 'the pfi process is not an excuse or an occasion for second-rate architecture on key town centre sites.' It added that police buildings were 'important as outward and visible signs of the relationship between police and the community they served', attacking the planning as well as the appearance of the scheme.

The commission actually prefers the rival pfi scheme by bdp, which it says is more varied andcontemporary and less unfriendly in its overall appearance - although still unpleasant for pedestrians at street level. It also includes a car park which will provide 'a grim outlook for half of the building's accommodation.'

cabe also criticised a reworked proposal by Livesey O'Malley for not making enough changes to its scheme for the Pinnacle building at Chiswick Roundabout. The architect, said cabe, has simply cut the building's height from 141m to 119m.

But cabe has given its strong support to a new design for an office building by Foster and Partners after branding its original efforts as potentially hostile to its neighbours (aj 4.11.99). The reworked designs for developer Minerva are for a 40,000m2 office building proposed opposite Cannon Street Station in the City. 'The [design review] committee is very pleased that the architect has been able to respond so positively to its criticisms of this scheme, and we believe that a building of real character and quality has emerged from this process,' it said. Minerva refused to release an image of the new scheme.

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