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'Cursory' CABE takes more flak for rushed review in St Austell

CABE has once again come under fire for not giving a scheme sufficient consideration during a recent design review.

After a government select committee report earlier this month condemned CABE's 'cursory approach', Chetwood Associates director Chris Slamon this week added further fuel to the debate.

The architect's revitalisation of St Austell town centre was granted planning permission last week, despite CABE savaging its design at a review meeting earlier in the year.

Because of time constraints faced by the independent design body, Chetwood's scheme was considered as a 'pin-up', where designs are sent in and mulled over quickly every fortnight. This is an alternative to the architect being given the opportunity to present it to a six- to eight-strong panel, which meets monthly.

Slamon said the practice had been frustrated by the lack of time given to the project by this process. 'Two minutes clearly isn't long enough to consider a complex scheme. Because of the time pressure I don't think they gave what we've done sufficient time, ' he said.

It its design review report, CABE slammed the mixed-use scheme's design and relationship to the site's topography, as well as comparing it to the nearby Eden project, which it referred to as 'an example of good contemporary architecture in its own right'.

But Restormel Borough Council planning officer Nigel Doyle, who considered the scheme, believes CABE ignored the demands of the site. He said: 'It's valid for them to have their own opinion on the design, but they ignored the development brief.

'One of CABE's criticisms was that the design didn't follow the site's topography. But that wouldn't have taken into account the demands of disabled users or national retailers, ' he added.

The scheme was originally presented to local CABE representatives in 2003, at a local urban panel meeting that also included members of the council, English Heritage and consultant Feilden Clegg Bradley.

In response to the criticisms, Peter Stewart, CABE's outgoing director of design review, said: 'Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?

We are an advisory body and the council is a decision-making body.'

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