Revealed: Design for London’s £1.3 million handout to three practices
Lib Dems to question why East, MUF and KCAP together received 40 per cent of the fees paid out by the Greater London Authority’s in-house design team in the six years before it was shut down
Nearly half of the £3.2 million in architectural fees paid out by Design for London over the past six years went to just three practices, a Freedom of Information request by the AJ has revealed.
East Architecture, the practice co-founded by former head of Design for London Mark Brearley is among the top three firms, having received more than £442,000 in fees between 2007 and March of this year, when DfL was wound up.
Over the same period, MUF earned £464,000 in fees, while KCAP received £409,000.
The figures have raised a question about the awarding of contracts by Design for London, the now defunct Greater London Authority’s in-house design team. Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, intends to ask London Mayor Boris Johnson about the findings in May.
Pidgeon’s question reads: ‘The awarding of contracts by Design for London to architect firms appears over a number of years to have been awarded to a relatively small number of firms.
‘Can you give an assurance that the correct process of advertising future contracts and inviting tenders has always been carried out to the highest standards and that active steps have been taken to ensure that tenders are sought from the widest range of architect firms?’
Brearley was investigated – and cleared – of any favouritism towards practices as a senior member of the GLA’s Architecture & Urbanism Unit (AUU) during an official internal inquiry in 2006 into possible conflicts of interest.
In response to the revelations, Brearley, now visiting professor at London Met, told the AJ: ‘I do not benefit when East or any other practice win work.’ He also said: ‘I have not had any interest in East for well over a decade.’
Brearley added: ‘The DfL team has consistently promoted the most open procurement processes possible in each case, including many open tenders, various forms of special contest, and use of unusually inclusive framework agreement panels.’
A statement from GLA said: ‘Procurement undertaken by the Greater London Authority – and formerly by the London Development Agency – is and was conducted in a transparent manner and in accordance with published guidelines.’
A spokesperson for MUF – which earned the most fees over six years from DfL – said the practice had given 60 per cent of its total fee income to its team of consultants. MUF said: ‘Sadly, the amount of fees ascribed to MUF come from our being lead consultant with multiple consultants.’
A spokesperson added: ‘In the mid-1990s being committed to urban design and public space was a minority interest with few opportunities.
‘Surely one of Design for London’s achievements is that now the field is widening, with other practices branching out, and others stepping up.’
|Work carried out by architectural practices for Design for London since 2007 by fee value|
|Witherford Watson Mann||£278,744.99|
|Maccreanor Lavington (UK)||£261,780.00|
|Terry Farrell and Partners||£190,500.00|
|Adams & Sutherland||£111,943.54|
|Peter Beard Landroom||£110,706.50|
|Allies and Morrison||£43,878.00|
|Stephen Taylor Architects||£35,000.00|
|David Kohn Architects||£32,500.00|
|General Public Agency||£31,026.43|
|Kinnear Landscape Architects||£25,000.00|
|Urhahn Urban Design||£24,925.00|
|Maccreanor Lavington (Dutch Office)||£20,000.00|
|Gross Max Landscapes||£14,755.00|
|Alison Brooks Architects||£10,000.00|
|Maxwan Architects and Urbanists||£9,380.00|
|Edwin Heathcote Architect||£1,500.00|
|Tim Ronalds Architects||£600.00|
|Rogers Stirk Harbour||£500.22|
|Burns + Nice||£496.25|
|Ian Ritchie Architects||£281.25|
|Feilden Clegg Bradley||£150.00|
|Studio Egret West||£95.76|
|Penoyre & Prasad||£14|