Architects who take on planning-supervisor roles fear they have no power to prise out important information from clients.
Construction, design and management (CDM) rules identify planning supervisors as duty holders in building. Yet those who take on the job often enter a cat-and-mouse chase, with clients feeding them a welter of irrelevant data. In other cases, ever-more complex procurement like PFI throws up more confusion.
Paul Bussey, an architect and planning supervisor for RHWL said: 'I find I have no leverage to get information yet can be held liable by the HSE. Usually, designers and clients are forthcoming, but others are not, and some issue reams of paper which fail to clear up the matter. I have no idea what leverage I have to get more information.'
The Society of Planning Supervisors seminar last week also raised concerns over PFI and other complicated procurement, where the employer was often the person who did not provide the information needed.
George Ventris, a former Health & Safety Executive member who helped draft the cdm regulations, advised architects to kick up a stink if anything worried them. 'Make a fuss if something gnaws at your conscience, otherwise you have to leave it and pray.'
John Barber, a consulting engineer and barrister from Kings College London, said the Health & Safety Executive could serve improvement notices and fines for non-compliance. However, he said he was concerned the HSE was waiting for judges to legally define areas of practice.
'The HSE has enough capability with improved codes of practice to know precisely what they mean,' he told the society, a discussion forum on planning supervision. 'For them to say judges will tell us what they mean in due course seems to me an abrogation of responsibility.'
Alsop heads dozen practices for playful Dutch housing
Alsop & Stormer is working with a dozen practices on a major housing scheme with canalside cafes and an outlandish landscape.
Around 1000 flats and homes will be built in north Holland's Groningen for the£195 million CiboGa project. The other practices include the Holland- based British firm of Studio 333 and around 10 Dutch practices. Alsop & Stormer will design some housing and all of the landscaping on the 1.2ha site, called 'Landscape of Behaviour', which will include star-gazing cones, a 'Jesus route', an 'astrological constellation boardwalk' and 'ceramic puddles'.
Some of the houses will have studio spaces for residents to work from home. Blocks of flats will be no higher than seven storeys, and the site will include two large supermarkets. Cafes will be built beside a canal that runs through the site, said Alsop & Stormer architect Catja de Hass.
The contaminated site is to be excavated for underground car parking for 900 cars. This will give the site varying levels, said de Hass.
Building work, divided into six phases and starting next year, is due to finish in 2005.