Paul Hyett, who takes charge of the RIBA on Sunday, has pledged to use his two-year term as president to campaign for a dilution of 'excessive' English Heritage powers. Condemning the conservation body as 'essentially reactive', Hyett is to press ministers to review the influence the organisation has over the planning system.
'English Heritage has had, and does have, a crucial role but the balance has now been lost, ' Hyett told the AJ. 'I don't like reactive planning. Every initiative should be considered in its own right and we must embrace the future with confidence. I will press the government to review English Heritage.'
Hyett is particularly concerned about the noises EH has been making about tall buildings and sympathises with architects who have run into trouble over schemes drawn up for conservation areas.
'Sixty to 70 per cent of London is now in a conservation area. This is inappropriate, ' said Hyett.
'You can't per se say it's a nonsense to propose a tall building in, for example, Wandsworth, or Brick Lane or Old Street. They should be considered in their own right. Any presumption is ludicrous.'
He added: 'You can imagine it, can't you, 'Oh Mr Eiffel, don't build so high - just build it a little smaller.' Put it this way, Sir Neil Cossons is someone I look forward to meeting.'
Tackling the conservation body is just one of a raft of initiatives Hyett has sworn to press ahead with when he takes over from Marco Goldschmied on 1 July.Outlining his programme to the AJ, Hyett has also committed himself to smoothing over difficulties with the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, as well as boosting links with the regions and helping architects deal with new procurement methods such as PFI. An interview with Hyett will appear in next week's edition of the AJ.