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RIBA guru hits out at Barker Report

Kate Barker's planning report makes gaining planning approval easier for architects on all counts except when it comes to design, the RIBA's senior planning expert has claimed.

Peter Stewart, chairman of the RIBA planning group, said that design still remains the burning issue in planning and Barker's recommendations fail to acknowledge this.

Speaking at the RIBA Council he said: 'The Barker report offers 32 recommendations, 31 of which make gaining planning easier for architects, but one recommendation makes it more difficult - and that's the one to do with design.

'It's very important we latch on to design, and ministers at the Department for Communities and Local Government agree that it should be harder to build rubbish. But we must get together to consolidate our concerns before putting our recommendations to the government ahead of the White Paper.'

Stewart's was one of many voices at the council, which, although generally supportive of the review, still had concerns over the future of the planning process.

A major worry was that there were too many 'lay people' in planning making design decisions, and RIAS president Doug Read suggested a system of design champions, which is already in place north of the border.

'It is something that has worked very successfully in Scotland, and it should be going on down here [England],' he said.

by Richard Vaughan

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