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Crest brings in Cullinan for troubled Canon's Marsh job

Edward Cullinan Architects has promised to listen to Bristol residents over its designs for the £300 million redevelopment of Canon's Marsh in the city centre after it was drafted in to revive the troubled development last week . The prac t ice has been p icked to masterp lan the s ite after Arup Associates was dropped by developer Crest Nicholson in May, following a high-profile local campaign against its scheme and planning rejections.

Cullinan beat off competition from Terry Farrell & Partners, Rick Mather Architects, Richard Rogers Partnership, MacCormac Jamieson Prichard and Burrell Foley Fischer in an interview process. The final choice was understood to be between Cullinan and Farrell.

'The whole thing will be about listening, ' said Cullinan partner Robin Nicholson. 'On the Arup scheme it sounds as though there wasn't any consultation.This will be a new story.' The scheme will remain mixed use with housing, commercial and leisure elements, but the prominence of each element will depend on the result of the public consultation.

Crest Nicholson has appointed research organisation Opinion Leader Research to conduct consultation with local residents before a draft masterplan is drawn up by the end of the year. The consultation process is set to be the second largest ever undertaken in the UK with regard to a development scheme. The biggest has been the consultation on the South Bank Centre in London, which is currently drawing to a close after more than 200,000 questionnaires were sent out to local residents.

Ferguson Mann Architects, the Bristol-based opponents of the Arup Associates scheme, welcomed the fresh selection.'I think this is an intelligent decision, ' said partner George Ferguson. 'This scheme needs the thoughtful approach that Ted Cullinan and Robin Nicholson can offer, rather than the knee-jerk approach we have had until now.' However, he warned that the brief might still be flawed. 'The contract still divides up the uses on the site and I'm sure the masterplanners will want to tackle that, ' he said. Ferguson has drawn up his own alternative £200 million scheme for the site.

A panel, including groups representing the public such as the Bristol Civic Society, Bristol Cathedral and the city council, made the selection of the new masterplanner.

Crest came under fire for failing to select a single local practice on its latest shortlist, but the winning practice sought to calm fears of London bias by saying there is 'a strong desire' to appoint local practices to design the individual buildings on the controversial scheme.

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