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Election 2010: Who gets your vote?

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Last night (22.04.10) the leaders of the three main political parties took part in the second Leaders’ Debate. Here, architects of all persuasions share their views on the policies outlined in their manifestos

Bill Dunster, ZEDfactory (pragmatic idealist)

I suggest voting to achieve a Lib Dem hung parliament with either of Labour or the Tories, preferably all three. The Lib Dems in ascendance means proportional representation, which allows people to support the Green Party in the future without feeling they’ve wasted their vote.

Chris Romer-Lee, Studio Octopi (left-leaning floating voter)
There is nothing concrete in the Conservatives’ manifesto on supporting the creative industries in this country. And, from a wider social perspective, there are no proposals to build more affordable housing or policies on regeneration.

Jeremy Till, University of Westminster (lefty)
One key issue is the supply of housing and whether it is dealt with by market forces, as proposed by the Tories. The other is the procurement of public buildings – a travesty under the private finance initiative (PFI) because it hands control over to the private contractor.

Nick Willson, Nick Willson Architects (floating voter)
The manifesto highlights for me include Labour’s pledge to continue to rebuild and refurbish secondary schools; the Liberal Democrats’ proposal to regenerate and improve energy-efficiency in homes; and the Conservatives’ proposal to free up class uses in buildings.

Chris Williamson, Weston Williamson (left of centre)
These are not manifestos; they are random proposals. I was hoping to find some inspiration and some enthusiasm, something to help the country feel good about itself. Instead I re-read Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture. Now that’s what I call a manifesto.

Ben Vickery, Populous (floating voter)
All three parties have policies to reduce energy consumption in buildings and encourage energy generation from renewable sources. But the measures don’t seem of sufficient scale to achieve the emissions-reduction target that has been agreed – 40 per cent by 2020.

Ian Tant, Barton Willmore (floating voter)
Fitting a cigarette paper between the three main parties is proving difficult this time around, and the fields of planning, housing and development are no exception. These manifestos speak of how planning should work, but not why.

Charlie Baker, URBED (left-leaning green)
There’s not a lot between the parties when it comes to sustainability, and I worry there is still denial about the scale of the task ahead. Most measures appear to be enhanced Labour ones. Labour’s rhetoric is good, but they need to stop talking about it and get on with it.

How the manifestos compare



Implement minimum design standard for all new public buildings

Public investment

Build affordable housing for low-income working families
Rebuild and refurbish secondary schools
Boost primary health and community care services
Support Crossrail and high-speed rail links


Drive affordable housing through local government
Create ‘city regions’ to boost local economic development
Allow local communities to elect ‘mayors’


Set up green investment bank
Create 400,000 green jobs
Insulate all lofts and cavity walls by 2020
Place smart energy meters in all homes

Stephen ‘Red blood’ Davy, Stephen Davy Peter Smith Architects

There seems to be an element of growth in the economy at the moment and it’s unfortunate the election is now. If Labour stays in power there will be continued spending on health, education and housing. If a new party gets in there could be a natural pause, which could be detrimental to growth. Change is a big word at the moment, but I think it’s more about continuity. It’s important to focus on maintaining funds for registered social landlords and local authorities for housing. There is a need for more housing, and if this continues as a priority it will help sustain economic growth.



Scrap politicised/non-technical quangos (such as the ARB)

Public investment

Abolish Infrastructure Planning Commission
Match council tax receipts from new homes
Allow good education providers to set up academy schools
Deliver 25 per cent of research and procurement contracts through small and medium-sized enterprises
Support high-speed rail


Adhere to previously published paper on localism
Abolish regional planning
Abolish regional spatial strategies
Abolish building targets
Permit building-use changes within local plan


Create ‘green infrastructure bank’
Give £6,500 to every home for energy improvements

Sherin ‘True Blue’ Aminossehe, HOK

I’m not your typical Tory voter. I’m pro-Europe and left-of-centre on foreign policy, but on education and the economy I feel I can’t vote for any other party. Planning or property has always been the poor relation to health and education. These three manifestos are no exception, even if they are bound by the common thread of ‘localism’, which is misunderstood by all parties as a way to attract NIMBYs, rather than an attempt to get democratic buy-in from the population at large. However, they all ignore the elephant in the room. They do not state how they will deliver good public buildings and regenerate communities when cash is scarce.


Liberal Democrats


Reduce VAT on refurbishment
Boost retrofitting

Public investment

Abolish Infrastructure Planning Commission
Bring 250,000 empty homes back into use
Amend Building Regulations to ensure new homes are energy-efficient
Build more sustainable homes
Fund improved energy-efficiency in schools
Set up UK Infrastructure Bank
Support high-speed rail


Restrict Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to economic development only
Remove duplication within RDAs
Reduce budget of RDAs


Set up 10-year energy-efficiency programme
Give £10,000 to every home for energy improvements
Create 40 per cent energy from non-carbon sources by 2020 (100 per cent by 2050)
Set up better feed-in-tariffs

Nigel ‘Golden Liberal’ Ostime, 3DReid

As Nick Clegg demonstrated in last week’s televised Leaders’ Debate (15 April), the Liberal Democrats are coming up with the freshest thinking, backed by financial analysis to give it credibility. The Conservatives’ proposed decentralisation of planning has the potential to clog up the process even more (meaningmore NIMBYs). Do the Conservatives include CABE as one of the quangos to be abolished? This would be a backwards step for the quality of our built environment. Labour’s proposal to introduce smart meters in all homes seems a sensible one.

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