Tories plan industry advisory group
HOK vice-president works with Party to deliver high-level built-environment advice to ministers
The Conservative Party could create the government’s first built-environment advisory group now that it has succeeded in its bid to form a coalition government, following last week’s general election which resulted in a hung parliament.
Sherin Aminossehe (pictured right), vice-president of the HOK Planning Group, is set to lead the body. She first proposed it last year, and approached shadow planning minister Bob Neill with the idea in March.
The advisory group would exist alongside the Construction Industry Council’s all-party group for built environment professionals, which was announced last month.
Aminossehe’s group would comprise architects and construction industry professionals, and would offer detailed advice to ministers and civil servants, functioning in a similar way to the government’s Treasury advisory groups.
The non-party-political panel’s 15 members would meet twice a month, with a broad remit to advise on design, architecture and planning policy.
‘If you think how much money comes into the UK economy from construction, it’s something we need to think more professionally about,’ said Aminossehe. ‘The idea is for ministers to have really high-level professional advice.’
Brian Waters, president of the Association of Consultant Architects, said: ‘It sounds like a very good idea to have a non-political sounding board for the strategic-level politicians for dealing with the built environment.
‘It’s better than a personality guru or a tsar – a group has less chance of “falling out”,’ he added. However, Waters stressed that he does support the government’s chief construction ‘tsar’ Paul Morrell.
Architects should be ‘well-represented’ in Aminossehe’s group, according to Waters, because they would help ministers and civil servants better understand high-quality design – a field that Waters says has ‘a very considerable area of subjectivity’.
But Robert Adam of Adam Architecture disagrees. ‘Architects have no special place here,’ said Adam, ‘and, as they largely operate according to avant-garde ideals, they represent an in-principle anti-democratic aesthetic which should be treated with circumspection by politicians.’