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Leeds tower practice set to bypass a third CABE report

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A practice still smarting over two bad CABE reports has told the AJ that it may bypass a third head-to-head with the commission over its plans to build the tallest tower in Leeds (AJ 26.4.01).

Abbey Holford Rowe said a detailed planning decision on its scheme for 30 storeys of offices and a hotel at Bridgewater Place was likely to be made by August. It is conducting informal briefings with city planners but is unsure about going back to CABE's design review committee.

Partner Dominic Boyes said: 'There's a feeling CABE is too remote from the site to understand its proper context. CABE has had input twice as an informal consultee at the request of the planning case officer.'

Further changes to the design have been made since the last CABE report in May. These include improving the 'verticality' to make it look taller and thinner. The £40 million scheme had very strong support from the planners, he insisted.

That CABE report, however, said the architects were trying to achieve too much in the same scheme and that it did not work well either as a tall building or as a composition of smaller structures.

'This building fails in its ambition as a gateway to the city centre, ' said the last report. The first report in November called the design 'slab-like'.

But Boyes said CABE did not have a good site appreciation in its first report, even though a case officer came up to Leeds in advance of the architects' London presentation. 'Questions asked by commissioners were not necessarily about the scheme but its relationship with the city centre, ' he said. 'But the purpose of the original visit was to understand the site. This curtailed the time we had to discuss the scheme.'

He said the 22-month building project could still begin by the end of the year.

'It's like a modern village and a fantastic icon for Leeds, ' said Boyes.

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