TOP GUNS STEP IN AT WOOLWICH
Allies and Morrison has been recruited in a bid to rescue the highly-contentious Royal Arsenal scheme at Woolwich.
Developer Berkeley Homes turned to the practice after years of protracted delays over the controversial proposals to create nearly a thousand homes on the historic site in south-east London.
Drawn up by Broadway Malyan, the existing masterplan is being scrutinised by the ODPM, which called the scheme in earlier this year.
Although Greenwich Borough Council gave Broadway Malyan's plan outline permission in December, CABE mauled the scheme on three successive occasions, describing it as 'depressing' and 'lacking a strategy'.
As a result, the developer has now quietly instructed Allies and Morrison to review Broadway Malyan's masterplan and make a revised application.
John Anderson, the Berkeley Homes Group's urban regeneration projects director, said: '[Allies and Morrison] are looking at the original scheme in a lot more detail.
'It is a much more informed proposal coming through. The key area they are looking at is the relationship between the public realm and the proposed buildings.' 'We want to be on-site as quickly as possible and it is hoped the main planning application will be submitted in September. Provided we get committee approval we will withdraw the original planning application, ' he added.
While most of the bodies who have seen the latest proposals are tight-lipped about the revised scheme, the AJ understands it has been well-received.
CABE's policy director Matt Bell said: 'Allies and Morrison have a different reputation and will therefore do the job accordingly.' A spokeswoman for English Heritage admitted the organisation continued to have concerns about the current masterplan but remained confident 'an appropriate design solution' could be found.
She said: 'We are hopeful [Allies and Morrison] will be able to come up with proposals which will avoid the need for a public inquiry. So far we have only seen work in progress.' The position of Sergison Bates, previously commissioned to look at a masterplan for the site alongside Broadway Malyan, remains unclear.
Peter Vaughan, a director at Broadway Malyan, is adamant he has no ill feelings about Berkeley's decision.
He said: 'We have absolutely no sour grapes whatsoever about this. We were commissioned to prepare a masterplan for parts of the Woolwich Arsenal site and we were successful in gaining planning consent. There's not really a great deal more we can do about it.
'Architects do themselves a disservice when they bicker among themselves. All we want is the best possible solution for the site.
'There is no question that it [Woolwich Arsenal] has its challenges. But Allies and Morrison are extremely talented people and I am confident they will do a terrific job, ' he added.
The V&A Museum in London opened its £2 million Italianate courtyard garden designed by Kim Wilkie on Tuesday - a central feature of its rolling modernisation programme. The John Madejski Garden, named after its sponsor, has been designed to mirror the V&A's remodelled grand entrance, created by Pringle Richards Sharratt Architects. It features a stepped oval-shaped pool and fountains bordered by grass lawns and yorkstone paving. The pool can be drained for displays and receptions.