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Planners clash over Scots parliament car provision

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Enric Miralles' £60 million Scottish Parliament building could be delayed by planning fears that its proposed 135 parking spaces may turn it into an environmental blot.

Debate on the detailed drawings, worked on with rmjm and Benedetta Tagliabue, is due to end in a few weeks. But talks have been focusing on 'whether or not they will get away with a ridiculous amount of parking where other developments are more restricted,' said a planner from Edinburgh council.

A ruction could be highly embarrassing for Labour, which promised an environment-friendly parliament and pledged to follow the planning process closely. The Scottish Office wants a car space for every Scottish mp, plus six spaces for disabled drivers. It argues that security risks rule out sharing spaces with employees.

But Ian Spence, Edinburgh's design and conservation manager, said its long-standing policy is for one car per 500m2. 'Our policy is to try and restrict private non-residential parking in the centre. But the Scottish Office may argue this is a one-off building and there are no parking standards for a parliament building. We are seeking negotiation.'

Planners cannot, however, block the scheme which has Crown immunity from planning restrictions. But Spence said they had enough clout to influence the powerbrokers. 'They want to go through us as if it were a formal planning process. We work closely with the Royal Fine Art Commission and the public. It's a brilliant building but we have been consulting the Scottish Office at every stage and will continue to do so. They will listen to our concerns.'

rmjm directed enquires to the Scottish Office, which said the parking levels were essential for security, and the management system does not allow msps' car spaces to be used by anyone else. He would not speculate on a possible compromise, but said the office would listen to all queries.

Pressure has also come from a local campaign group, the Cockburn Association. It said that if government policy were to be judged by its actions, the so-called integrated transport policy stood for little. Tory councillors condemned Labour's philosophy of 'do as we say, not as we do.'

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