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Government admits case for design in Planning Bill is 'unanswerable'

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Richard Rogers and the RIBA have withdrawn their amendments to the Planning Bill, following a government U-turn last Thursday on the role of 'design' in the reforms.

ODPM minister Jeff Rooker told the House of Lords that the case made by Rogers for the amendments was 'unanswerable' and promised to introduce changes that will put 'design at the centre of the reforms'.

The RIBA believes the government move represents a major victory in its campaign to ensure design quality features heavily in the bill, after it was omitted from the original draft.

Last week, a coalition of Conservative peer Lord Lucas, Rogers and the RIBA tabled two amendments that would have forced all planning applicants 'to attach statements of design intentions' with both full and outline planning applications. And a third would have forced 'all those exercising planning functions to do so with a view to the achievement of good design'.

Rogers told the House it was essential that the planning process be used for 'the promotion of sustainability and high-quality design', attacking the government's bill as 'short on aspiration'.

Rooker responded to Rogers' speech by promising that the government would introduce its own amendments to include design quality. 'I shall return to the deputy prime minister, who is in charge of the bill, and insist that the word 'design' appears in it. That is fundamental, ' he said.

RIBA government relations officer Steven Harding described the U-turn as 'fantastic news'. 'I am excited to have scored this victory and look forward to seeing the changes the government introduces, ' he said.

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