One of the reasons developers switch architects after they have won planning consent is because the 'name' proves truculent in incorporating reasonable concerns about maximizing the lettability or saleability of the scheme - which could have been accommodated without trashing the design. I have seen it happen.
If the mooted legislation is enacted I predict more Mexican stand-offs between owners, architects and planners unless negotiation to resolve such situations is part of the equation. If a developer wants to sell the site or change the scheme, we'd be on an even stickier wicket if that ability was restricted. The market is already partially paralysed by a planning system that costs us billions in slow, poor decisions.
Do architects really deserve that power? If they can't handle clients creatively and come to a compromise that works, like the rest of the professional world has to in its everyday transactions, then why shouldn't an owner switch designers? 'You are the weakest link. . . Goodbye!'
It is no good ramming these rules down our throats.
Good developers are getting better and more numerous. A more effective method of raising standards would be to embarrass developers (and local authorities) over the poor quality of schemes, which can have a significant impact on market perceptions. I'm sure the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, with more resources, could be even better at the maintenance and promotion of objective aesthetic standards.
There are plenty of developers who could do with feeling the justified wrath of Sir Stuart Lipton and his aesthetic cohorts.
The bigger culprits are local authorities, which have in recent times failed to show leadership on this issue and who have embraced mediocrity and worse (it's all over, like a rash) - they are the dissipated remnants of their Victorian, Edwardian and immediate post-war forebears who sought out excellence.
Lee Mallett, Wordsearch, London EC1