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Don't plan to step through the gates of hell

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What little I have had to do with the planning system has been profoundly depressing: the earnest superficiality of committees and the architect manquÚ pretensions of planning policemen who have originally read geography or maths or, worse, done a planning diploma. In the old days the local architecture school used to send over the tired and weary, the aged and under-occupied to give planning students their mandatory six hours of architectural history and design.

So it is really no wonder the present generation of middle-management planners trots out tired and weary design solutions under the impression they are on the cutting edge of design.

I know planners aren't supposed to act as architects but as we all know, that is precisely what the sad little dears love.

Now from this dank undergrowth comes a site with possibly the most depressing content I have seen for a long time. It is at www.

planningmatters. co. uk, and is endorsed by the Royal Town Planning Institute, whose commercial arm produced it. It describes itself as a portal.

Sorry, it describes itself as 'a unique professional knowledge and Lifelong Learning portal' - those funky capital letters, yo! I have no doubt that as a teaching package it is absolutely fine but I am sure the CIA handbook on applying electrodes to victims' testicles is also instructive.

So what can we retrieve from all this?

I have no doubt that the big firms have already done it, but here's the scam.

Get your currently least-favoured associate director to pay the hundredquid subscription, download the learning package and burn midnight oil soaking up all those tips about how to tell architects how to design planners' architecture - but make provision in next year's accounts for post-trauma therapy sessions. Brilliant. You bypass all those rejections, resubmissions and appeals because now you know exactly how the mind of the planner really works.

sutherland. lyall@btinternet. com

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