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Creativity is slapped down, not encouraged

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Having read your article profiling planning minister Tony McNulty (pictured) (AJ 6.3.03), I would like to take issue with his call to developers 'to live a little dangerously' and to 'be creative'.

As developers we did precisely that on not just one but two occasions, and got slapped down both times on appeal by the department McNulty heads up. These were no suicide missions - each had considerable local support (the second even got a resolution to grant consent from the local council), but were targeted by a minority determined to ensure that pushing design boundaries was not the way to win brownie points.

We fully anticipated the appeal inspector and indeed the secretary of state to back us up in view of the high-profile noise, PR and spin about appropriate design - but not a bit of it. On the second occasion we wrote in despair to Richard Rogers in his capacity as chairman of the Government's Urban Task Force, urging him to encourage ministers like McNulty 'to spend less time yakking and more time getting the message down to his people on the ground' - after all, what difference does it make what the captain says if he's not talking to the engine room?

We can only hope McNulty has started to do this - otherwise all his lofty words about design and living dangerously will achieve precisely nothing and developers responding to his call will continue having to scrape themselves off the foot of the cliff-face.

Richard Bellman, Quada (Harbourside) Ltd, Putney, London

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