Lord Archer has stolen a march on his rivals for the post of London mayor by appointing an ambitious trainee architect to form a design policy and use the power of architecture to try and put him into Lord Foster's gla building.
The millionaire best-seller writer has chosen Sherin Aminossehe, a graduate at University College London's Bartlett School, to make design a major vote-winner. He is the only candidate so far to give such a high profile to architecture. Aminossehe is working on an architecture manifesto to put before the people who go to the polls on 4 May.
She said Lord Archer was determined architects and planners would be brought into the heart of his power-making engineroom on the banks of the Thames. 'It is very important to have building professionals on board rather than civil servants,' she said. 'Professionals also know more than politicians on the issues of design.' She insisted it was too early to name names of professionals, but Lord Archer 'gets on with Lord Rogers quite well.'
Aminossehe, who recently finished a year out at Chapman Taylor and is now doing an ma in European property development and planning, will champion key issues. One of these is the need for an international conference centre for London near Kings Cross Station, she said. Archer's tall-buildings policy will continue the shift in emphasis away from skyscrapers. Archer also aims to create an orbital ring of bus lanes around inner London with fewer key bus routes piercing the centre.
Meanwhile, another mayoral hopeful, Glenda Jackson, said her policy would tie in closely with the Urban Task Force report. However, she wanted to move away from the idea that 'concrete was the exclusive material for building.' She hinted that the main thrust of her campaign would be on providing affordable homes on the lines of Greenwich's Millennium Village, and regeneration via central issues of transport and tackling unemployment.
Frank Dobson is hoping his backer for the mayoral race, construction and planning minister Nick Raynsford, will be his trump card for architecture and regeneration. A spokeswoman said Dobson was pulling together various policy packages and the one on architecture was due in two weeks.
Susan Kramer, the Liberal Democrat candidate, is emphasising energy conservation. She also wants to see stronger public consultation on all developments. She shared a gripe with Lord Archer that Lord Foster's gla building was too expensive.
'It is the wrong message for the mayor to give out if we work from a very smart building in an area with lots of deprivation. We would have a full public consultation on whether the building should change hands.'
Ken Livingstone did not return aj's calls.
Meanwhile architects will have their say on the mayoral debate in a conference during Architecture Week. The conference, 'Making London Greater - Briefing the Mayor' on 11 November, will be addressed by riba president Marco Goldschmied, Lord Rogers, Terry Farrell and Nick Raynsford (for details, tel 020 7307 3688).