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Bradford democracy design delay

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Bauman Lyons Architects' winning scheme in a high-profile competition to revitalise local democracy through design (right) has failed to get off the drawing board, more than six months down the line.

The practice won the chance to redesign Bradford town hall through the IPPR's Designs on Democracy competition, sponsored by the AJ. But Bradford council has distanced itself from the project, appearing to back out of its commitment to engage the winning team.

Designs on Democracy, held in January (AJ 23.1.03), aimed to 'stimulate debate about what design and architecture could contribute to democracy'.

Bauman Lyons Architects won with a radical solution for Bradford which involved the removal of the Grade I-listed council chamber and the insertion of an external transparent pavilion within the town square.

A member of the council took part in the judging, and the council pledged to work with the winning practice.

But six months on, Bauman Lyons had not received a single communication from the council about its winning project.

Bradford council's chief executive, David Kennedy, said in-house architects were examining the proposal, together with the runner-up schemes by Penoyre and Prasad and Witherford Watson Mann with Ken Worpole.

'We are not sure which elements of the three we will be taking forward, ' Kennedy said. 'A lot [of Bauman Lyons' scheme] involved changes to the building. It would have done several things that English Heritage would not have approved of.We are pondering Irena Bauman's proposals, but are also looking at other proposals.'

Since being approached by the AJ, however, Kennedy has contacted Irena Bauman to apologise for the lack of contact and explain the reasons for the delay.

'Our entry caused a lot of debate, ' Bauman said this week.

'Shortly after we won, the Labour group in council voted against it.

But this was just one section of the council, the local elections have now happened and councillors are now interested in parts of the proposal, particularly the idea of a Living Museum.'

IPPR senior researcher Ben Rogers said it would be 'really worrying' if Bradford was planning to 'cherry-pick' ideas from the various entries. 'I have been onto Bradford and reminded them that they had undertaken to work with the winner of the competition to develop the winning scheme and do their best to realise it.'

Two other councils took part in the competition, Stockport and Letchworth. Stockport remains committed to its winning scheme by ABK Architects but is understood to be looking for alternative funding after failing to secure a PFI bid.

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