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Coppergate II inquiry begins amid anger over alternative

Developer Land Securities has created a fallback position in the controversial Coppergate II inquiry beginning this week, the AJ has learnt. It has commissioned Sir Colin Stansfield Smith and John Pardey Architect to work with the original scheme's designer, Chapman Taylor, in developing an alternative scheme.

The reserve scheme is being worked up in case the developer loses the inquiry on the mixed-use retail development in York (AJ 6/13.12.01). English Heritage referred to the alternative in a minute from a meeting last July: 'A presentation was being made to CABE by the developers that afternoon on an alternative scheme which could be worked up irrespective of the public inquiry's outcome.'

The revelation shocked those currently battling the scheme at the inquiry. Philip Crowe, chairman of York Tomorrow Group, told the AJ: 'We suspected for a while that there was another scheme kicking about. But it's massively frustrating that we have not been told about this and that it has not been part of the discussion process.'

He added that he would be taking the matter up with CABE - which is also against the current Coppergate II scheme. 'The commission's position is untenable. If it has seen this alternative scheme, how can it not reveal this information - it's a terrible attitude. CABE needs opening up, they've got to come clean on this, ' said Crowe.

Peter Stewart, head of CABE's design review committee, told the AJ that he could not comment on an alternative scheme as it would have been dealt with confidentially. But he added: 'Coppergate II is a bit of a hangover, really. Land Securities would normally use more than one architect for such a large scheme - if it were started on today, that would probably have happened.'

Carole Souter, director of regional operations for EH, said: 'We have seen evidence of another scheme, but it has not been put forward, so we can't comment on it.'

Nigel Woolner, architect of the Coppergate II scheme for Chapman Taylor, Land Securities and York City Council all declined to comment.

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