Your report (AJ 19.9.02) on CABE's views of the Hungate masterplan proposals in York (above) quotes author John Thompson as saying that CABE had misunderstood the intentions of the scheme, which is at outline stage. I don't think we did misunderstand them.
We review many projects at the outline stage and welcome the opportunity to do so - this is when the most important decisions are being made - and we do understand the difference between outline and detailed design. We have criticised some projects for trying to pin down too much at outline stage as well as others for showing too little.
What really matters is being clear about what you are trying to pin down and what you are leaving open - and why. If a scheme is being promoted with seductive visual imagery, what relation does this bear to what is actually intended, or defined? A particular difficulty with outline applications, in our experience, is that by agreeing the principles of development at this stage, a local authority is in a weaker position when it comes to negotiate the detail later.
Peter Stewart, director, Design Review, CABE